When “Star Wars” spin-off “Rogue One” hits theatres on Dec. 16, audiences will get treated to a new kind of Disney princess with Felicity Jones’ fierce Jyn Erso.
“The first film I ever saw at the cinema was ‘The Little Mermaid’, so I wanted to be Ariel,” the 33-year-old British actress tells Glamour. “Now I am playing a Disney princess. A very contemporary, kick-a$$ Disney princess!”
Jones’ character Jyn Erso follows in the footsteps of Daisy Ridley’s Rey, who audiences met in last year’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, as a fierce, feminist presence in the “Star Wars” universe. A strong, determined female character is exactly what self-proclaimed feminist Jones says she was looking for in a role.
“The opportunity to play someone determined, who’s trying to find her skills as a leader; to be in a fantasy movie; to be able to do a leading female role in a film of that scale—that’s very, very rare,” she says. “She’s obviously completely her own woman, but I felt like [she] was a rather beautiful blend of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo — and that came up in discussions around designing the costume.”
According to the Oscar-nominated Jones, Jyn Erso will throw off the shackles of Princess Leia’s gold slave bikini, eschew romance and sexualization, to become a role model for both males and females.
“Everyone wanted to create a character that was not in any way objectified. We didn’t want to sexualize Jyn,” she states. “Gareth [Edwards] said very early on, ‘I want guys to watch it and be like, ‘I want to be Jyn!’ A female friend of mine said, ‘I love that Jyn looks how we look, with trousers and a long-sleeved top.’ We aren’t in hotpants. When do women walk around wearing hotpants?”
“I’ve always been a feminist, and what I love in my work is being able to explore a full-sided woman and not patronize her,” she says. “Particularly with Jyn, it’s such a rare opportunity to be able to play a female who’s not just thinking about [romantic] relationships.”
Jones hopes that adding another strong female character into a big screen blockbuster will pave the way for more female-led action movies.
“I hope now with ‘Rogue One’ we’re in a place where of course women are going to be leading action films as well as men. I feel like Sigourney Weaver in ‘Alien’ and Jennifer Lawrence in ‘The Hunger Games’, and then obviously Daisy in ‘The Force Awakens’, all passed on the baton,” she says.
Part of that baton-passing isn’t just for women in front of the camera. The actress is a strong supporter of equal pay for women around the world.
“I want to be paid fairly for the work that I’m doing. That’s what every single woman around the world wants. We want to be paid on parity with a man in a similar position,” Jones says.
The actress reportedly earned more than double her male co-stars for “Rogue One”.
“I think it’s important to talk about it,” she says, referencing Patricia Arquette and Jennifer Lawrence, who have publicly spoken out about earning less than their male counterparts. “Now younger actresses will have a confidence in those discussions with their agents and be able to say, ‘Can we make sure that I’m being paid the right amount for the work that I’m doing?'”