Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'

The actress stars alongside Eddie Redmayne in the Oscar-tipped film due to be released in the New Year

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The Independent Culture

Felicity Jones, who plays Stephen Hawking’s first wife in the forthcoming biopic about the scientist, said she did not want to portray her as a “saint”.

The actress appears as Jane Wilde who married Hawking after they met at Cambridge University despite being told by doctors he only had two years to live.

Wilde stayed by Hawking’s side as his Motor Neurone Disease deteriorated, transforming him from an able-bodied doctoral student to a quadraplegic unable to speak.

Warning: This story contains spoilers

Their love story is told in the new film The Theory of Everything, based on Wilde’s own memoir, Travelling to Infinity – My Life with Stephen, and starring Eddie Redmayne as Hawking.

But Jones – who met Wilde before filming the movie - said that although she thought her resolve to stay with Hawking was admirable, she didn’t want to depict her as too pious a character because she had had an affair.

“I was keen I didn’t want her to be a saint. She has this extraordinary capacity for love and care, and a strength and a willfulness, but also she was a woman who had her own sexual identity, who wanted her own career - so I was also keen to show a nuanced character,” she said.

Wilde and Hawking went on to have three children together, and although no sex scenes are shown in the film, Jones said she and Redmayne wanted to convey their passion for each other.

“We were keen to show that both Stephen and Jane are very passionate people and had a huge amount of intensity in their relationship,” she said.


The couple later split and Wilde went on to marry family friend Jonathan Jones, who she is still with today.

Jones said she tried to research the character as much as she could in a “full frontal attack of understanding Jane”.

The 31-year-old said she was particularly taken by the graceful way in which Wilde moved, and worked with Redmayne so that their physicality would serve as a counterpoint to one other. 

“The way Jane moved was really interesting when I met her. She has a very balletic way of holding herself and in many ways Eddie and I approached Jane and Stephen like a dance. They almost become one person,” she said.

The actress added that playing a real-life character came with a huge “responsibility” and she was relieved when Wilde told her how moving she had found the film after seeing it for the first time

The Theory of Everything is released in the UK on 1 January 2015.

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