Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones are together again. But this time, it’s Jones who’s taken on the physical transformation.
It might not be visible to the uninformed eye at first, like Redmayne’s was for their first film together, The Theory of Everything, but Jones had to take on grueling training and perform insane stunts for her role in The Aeronauts. Jones plays a 19th century hot air balloon pilot named Amelia Wren who won’t let anything hold her down—literally and figuratively.
The movie blends fact and fiction in a captivating way. Redmayne plays real-life meteorologist and astronomer James Glaisher and Jones plays the fictional, fearless and famous daredevil, a crowd-pleasing and stronger-than-she-looks hot air balloon pilot. The film revolves around the pair’s attempt to ascend higher than any humans in history. For Jones, it’s about the flight. For Glaisher, it’s about revolutionizing meteorology. It is an amalgamation of real events, with a fictional character at its helm.
“It’s a strong film based on historical facts with fiction involved,” Redmayne explained. “Felicity’s character is based on a woman named Sophie Blanchard who was basically Napoleon’s aeronaut and her husband died—like Wren’s did—and she kept ballooning and became this huge superstar, like Wren,” he said.
Aspects of their flight were very real, like seeing butterflies and hearing noises from London’s streets thousands of meters above the ground, but they were pieces from many different flights, “not from the Glaisher flight,” Redmayne explained. “All of that was true, it’s all from this book called Falling Upwards. It’s almost the greatest hits of 19th century ballooning.”
The film inspired by the flight turned into what might be most riveting period films you’ll ever see. One that sees Jones climb to the top of the balloon mid-flight (with some help from a stunt double and studio).
“It was all to do with her character that I found it so compelling,” he shared.
Plus, he got to reunite with his friend: “It was also getting to work with Felicity again.” While there’s no doubt that their first film together was challenging, this was a different challenge. Redmayne was attracted to the idea of “getting to play to the challenge of being in this tiny space.”
“There’s no question that Felicity is essentially a hero, saving Glaisher,” Redmayne pointed out.
Jones’ character not only saves Glaisher more than once, her renowned and respected reputation as a balloon pilot is inspiring and her boldness bewildering. Her physical, mental and emotional strength to captain that ship when Glaisher proves basically useless turned this movie in to an unexpectedly inspiring one about, sure, the discovery of modern meteorology, but also a woman who shattered through the glass ceiling on a hot air balloon. And Redmayne recognizes the value in that.
“I think it is important. Incredibly important,” he said of seeing a 19th century woman depicted in that way today. Particularly, he said, because he has a young daughter. “She’s only three and a half but she saw the trailer and was excited by the prospect of it,” he said of his daughter’s reaction to the film’s ambitious female lead. “So of course the stories that you want to put out in the world are the ones that are inspiring for everyone.”
He loves the way it turned out: “On the one hand it’s this intimate drama. On the other hand it’s this macro film.” [Source]