A few months ago, I was part of a select group of mommy bloggers who attended an advance screening of “A Monster Calls” and interviewed the lovely actress Felicity Jones, who plays the Mom (or Mum) in the movie. Felicity Jones most recently starred in Inferno alongside Tom Hanks, and shooting down Storm Troopers in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
In A Monster Calls, Felicity Jones takes on the role of Mum, the very ill mother of Conor, played by young Scottish actor Lewis MacDougall. In this emotionally charged role, Felicity’s performance brought tears to my eyes. [Click here to read my previous post about A Monster Calls]
Here are some excerpts from the roundtable interview:
What was it about the script that appealed to you, and spoke to you?
It was a combination of reading the script and then I read the book. I actually read it when I was on holiday and I was on holiday with a couple of friends. I was so overwhelmed after I’d finished it, I said, “Just going to be two minutes,” and then I sort of crept off and went into the sea and just like burst into tears. ‘Cause it just hits you in that gut level, and I just thought, “Well, if-if the book can be that, then-then hopefully the film can, too.”
How was it working with Sigourney Weaver?
She’s fabulous. I just watched Working Girl recently. And I just remembered how kind of-of fantastic she is. Sigourney‘s a real hippie, as well. So I really empathize with her on that level. Just again like Lewis, (she is) very focused. I think that’s the thing I find with people, particularly’ve stayed the course, you know, survived the business for as long as she has.
What was it like working with Lewis MacDougall?
He’s such a wonderful young actor. He takes it very seriously. He works incredibly hard, and he’s really bright. He just had it. I mean, it wasn’t like we had to do anything special for him, or do, you know, we were just all in awe of him really, and he gave it everything. From the very beginning, he just always came out with the most kind of insightful, credible things and ideas about the character and the script.
What drew you to this particular movie?
I think it was the authenticity. It just felt very real. It felt honest, and it didn’t feel like it was, trying to pretend that things are more easy then they are in reality. It felt very truthful. I was very close to both my parents, but I grew up with just my mother, and she was, a single parent, and I guess some of that resonated when I was reading the script, and that sort of touched me.
Not everyone lives happily ever after. It’s messily ever after
I love the fact it depicted real life. One of my favorite lines throughout the whole movie was “Not everyone lives happily ever after. It’s messily ever after.” And it’s true. Life gets messy and you’ve got to make the best out of it.
How did you prepare yourself to play a chronically ill patient?
I like to do a lot of research. I like to kind of get really stuck in and understanding what that person is going through, and so I met with women who had cancer, and luckily had survived it. I spoke to a woman (who) was very open about the emotional side of it, as well as the physical side of how chemotherapy affects every bit of your body.
So it was a very very open dialogue, and then I spoke to her doctor, and her oncologist about the specifics, the kind of medical facts of that. So, I just kind of attack it in every different direction, and try and find the absolute honesty of that experience. But also at the same time, I found these women just didn’t want to be defined by it. The thing that appears always the same, is people just want to go back to being normal.
Do you have a preference for a particular type of movie or role?
It’s like, it’s nice to do the mix, really. And it depends on the character, and if I feel engaged by it. You always know when you sit down and read a script, and you don’t move, that it’s something good. When it’s not good, you just, you’re like, making tea, or you’re going “All right, ugh, I can’t believe I’ve got to read this.” Variety’s the spice of life.
A Monster Calls
In theaters Dec. 23, 2016 (select cities); Jan. 6, 2017 (nationwide)
Story: A visually spectacular and unabashedly emotional drama from director J.A. Bayona (“The Impossible”). 12-year-old Conor (Lewis MacDougall) is dealing with far more than other boys his age. His beloved and devoted mother (Felicity Jones) is ill. He has little in common with his imperious grandmother (Sigourney Weaver). His father (Toby Kebbell) has resettled thousands of miles away. But Conor finds a most unlikely ally when the Monster (portrayed by Liam Neeson in performance-capture and voiceover) appears at his bedroom window one night. Ancient, wild, and relentless, the Monster guides Conor on a journey of courage, faith, and truth that powerfully fuses imagination and reality.
Director: J.A. Bayona (“The Impossible,” “The Orphanage”)
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell, Lewis MacDougall, and Liam Neeson
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Official Website: focusfeatures.com/amonstercalls
Disclaimer: I did not receive financial compensation for this post. I was invited as a member of the media to preview the movie to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions are 100% my own. Images and story summary provided by Focus Features