Felicity Rose Hadley Jones was born and raised on October 17, 1983 in Bournville, an affluent suburb of Birmingham, the daughter of Julia and Gareth Jones. Her maternal grandparents are Geoffrey and Rose (Day) Hadley, and her uncle is actor Michael Hadley. Her parents met while working at the Wolverhampton Express and Star. Her father was a journalist while her mother was in advertising. They divorced when she was three, and she was brought up with her brother by her mother alone.
After Kings Norton Girls School, Jones attended King Edward VI Handsworth School, to complete A-levels and went on to take a gap year (during which she appeared in the BBC series Servants). Then, she read English at Wadham College, Oxford, graduating with an upper second in 2006. While studying English, she appeared in student plays, including Attis in which she played the title role, and in 2005, Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors for the OUDS summer tour to Japan, starring alongside Harry Lloyd.
Jones was encouraged to take up acting by her uncle, the actor Michael Hadley. Her mother was also passionate about film and theatre. She began acting at 11 years at an after-school workshop funded by Central Television. Jones appeared in the first series of The Worst Witch, after which she was replaced by Katie Allen. She left the series because she missed home. When Weirdsister College began in 2001, Jones returned as Hallow. During the shooting of Weirdsister College she was just seventeen, lived in a flat in Richmond and had a private tutor to get her through her A levels. Her longest and probably best known role overall was on the BBC Radio 4 soap opera The Archers, where she played Emma Carter (who is now played by Emerald O’Hanrahan).
In 2003, she starred as Grace May in the BBC drama Servants. She took the leading role in the 2007 ITV adaptation of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, and made her stage debut in Polly Stenham’s That Face at the Royal Court Theatre in April 2007.
In 2008, she appeared in the films Brideshead Revisited and Flashbacks of a Fool, the Doctor Who episode “The Unicorn and the Wasp” and a revival of Enid Bagnold’s The Chalk Garden at the Donmar Warehouse theatre in London. In January 2009, the five-part TV serial The Diary of Anne Frank, in which Jones played the role of Margot Frank alongside Tamsin Greig (as Edith Frank-Holländer) and Iain Glen (as Otto Frank), was broadcast on BBC One. Later that year in May, she performed in a rehearsed reading of Anthony Minghella’s Hang Up at the High Tide Festival. Jones played the role of Julie in Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s 2010 film Cemetery Junction. She also appeared in Soulboy and in Julie Taymor’s big screen adaptation of The Tempest as Miranda.
On 29 January 2011, Jones won a Special Jury Prize (Dramatic) at the Sundance Film Festival for her performance as Anna in Drake Doremus’s Like Crazy. She had to do her own hair and make-up in the film, while the dialogue was entirely improvised. Her performance earned comparisons to Carey Mulligan’s Academy Award-nominated role in An Education. She also received the Best New Hollywood Award for this film at the 2011 Hollywood Film Awards. She appeared alongside Gossip Girl actor Ed Westwick in Chalet Girl, a romantic comedy released in March 2011, for which she had to undergo two months of snowboarding training and work undercover in a chalet at St Anton, scrubbing toilets and partying at the Krazy Kanguruh bar in preparation for the role. Jones said that the role was “something of a relief” after a string of costume roles and she was also keen to take on a comic role. Jones performed in Luise Miller, a new translation of Schiller’s Kabale und Liebe by Mike Poulton at the Donmar Warehouse theatre in London, in June and July 2011. Jones lived with a Catholic family and attended Mass to prepare for the role. In 2011, Jones was announced as the new face of Burberry. In November, she was also announced as the new face of Dolce & Gabbana. She also co-starred in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which was released on 2 May 2014. She played Felicia Hardy; an assistant of Harry Osborn.
Her current highlight is her 2014 performance as Jane Hawking in the film The Theory of Everything, a biopic charting the life and love between Jane Wilde Hawking and the world renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, with Eddie Redmayne starring as Hawking. The film has received critical acclaim mostly due to her and Redmayne’s brilliant performances. For her role as Jane, she received widespread acclaim and nominations from numbers of organizations, including an Academy Award for Best Actress, a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, a Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Actress and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.
In February 2015, she was cast in the Star Wars spin-off film, Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One with Gareth Edwards directing.
In 2013, she split from her boyfriend of ten years, Ed Fornieles, who is a sculptor and internet artist. She and Fornieles met at Oxford when he was at the Ruskin School of Art.