You may recognize Julia Jones from her many roles in some fan favorites, including Twilight, The Mandalorian, Westworld, and more. Her latest film, Think Like a Dog, brings out the fun for the whole family. I, along with a few other bloggers, talked with Jones about her role and some of her others from the past.
Let's jump in!
You mentioned in a previous interview that you grew up with a dog named Greta, and I would love to hear your thoughts on the family dynamic and how you think pets play a role in that.
I think that first of all, pets are just sort of this source of unconditional love and entertainment. So I think that they can really bring family together in a way. Everybody kind of shares a mutual sense of affection for this animal, and you got that in common, no matter what's going on. Then they're also like really fun things to play with. It's fun to be outside. They keep you present. Something that the movie addresses is just that they are concerned with what we might think is a simple way of thinking or of being. Where it's really just about food and sleeping, water, and love, those are things that maybe we as humans ought to just think a little more about.
Your scenes with Bryan Callen were always so funny, was there a lot of improvisation happening or was it all script?
JJ: It was definitely not all script. And also I feel like the script was constantly evolving, so everything, even if there was a page that had those words on it, it all felt really spontaneous. Bryan is a great improviser, and probably a half or a third of some of the scenes that we shot is in the film because he'll just kind of go on and on, you don't want him to stop because he's really funny.
Yeah. I feel like that scene where you guys were dancing and in the actual home probably was one of those scenes.
JJ: Yes. There was definitely more to that cause I remember giving him a look that I don't remember seeing in the film. I can remember just shooting him looks because he is, so I'm entertaining. Absolutely.
Was it hard keeping a straight face?
Obviously, I had every scene with Bryan, and we spent a good amount of time together. We were in Beijing together, and we were on the same schedule. Developing that back and forth, and the banter was something that absolutely happened offset. He is extremely funny. He is very, very funny. Lots of times, he would just go off on these things, and yes, everybody would try not to laugh. That's your job, to not laugh! She [Agent Monuz] was such a high strung character that when we were doing scenes, he was definitely not funny to me at all. He was really, really annoying me!
You were really in character!
JJ: I guess so! It was very effective. Off-camera it was a whole different story. It was really hard not to laugh.
What was it like working alongside your four-legged co-stars?
I love working with the dogs. For me, there is an element of spontaneity that comes when working with dogs. I feel calm and relaxed working with them, especially big dogs like the Henry dog. These dogs are extremely professional and really well behaved. Everybody just wanted to be around the dogs. I definitely was hanging out with the dogs offset.
Did you visit anywhere special when you were filming in Beijing?
JJ: I did actually. I went to the Great Wall of China, which was extraordinary. I had the best time. I got in touch with some people who lived over there through mutual friends. I would try and have dinner with somebody pretty much every night. I loved hearing about, you know, trying to process what I was experiencing and seeing during the day with their experience as a person who's been living there and then I went to Shanghai afterward. That was a really fun, different experience too.
Any other fun moments on set you want to share?
JJ: One of my favorite memories from making this film is we filmed a lot of it in New Orleans. We would have these days when it would be pretty wild with children, extras, drones, and all these dogs. The neighborhoods were so welcoming, and they would let us do makeup touchups in their houses. They would say, “Come on in! Do the touchups in here. Your trailer is too far away.” People would get beach chairs and at 9 am in the morning you would get out of the car to start filming and there would be all these people with their beach chairs and bottles of wine. They set up their chairs and watched us film. It was like a community theatre production.
And also, Gil, our director who is just infectious and loves what he does so much, he was really passionate about this story. While we were rehearsing, we often didn't use the dogs so that the dogs could rest. Gil would play the dogs in our rehearsals. And that was really special.
Each of your characters is strong, confident, intelligent women. I know they get that from you! What other ways do you think they are like you?
That's really hard. I sorted start from the opposite place of that strangely. I'm more focused on how to make them less like me in a way because I know that the qualitative things that are inherent to me will probably come through in some way. I'm always so focused on what other external factors does this person have to deal with that don't really have anything to do with me.
What are your favorite nerdy things?
I'm a book worm. I'm really interested in just reading, and I'm kinda obsessive about it. I'll get into something and not be able to put it down. Whether it's a book or I'll get obsessed with a specific director, and I just want to see all of his films at once.
Or, oh my gosh, I've been doing puzzles in quarantine. These like 1000 piece puzzles that I've been extremely obsessed with! That was a phase about a third of the way through that I will always remember. It was the most peaceful part of this!
How does your love of reading books impact the way in which you prepare for a role?
JJ: I think that reading books impact the way that I see the world to begin with. You try to understand things that you haven't experienced, or you try to understand what it's like to live in a place that you've never been, or different things that are going on that are outside of your little world that you inhabit. And I think that the broadening of your perspective that you can get from reading is a start. It's the starting point for acting in a lot of ways for me because, as an actor, you're kind of tapping into experiences that you often haven't had in your real life.
Reading is a huge part of it. Research is a huge part of most of the roles that I take on. I think it's always a default. If I'm not quite sure where to start or what to do, it's either a book or a film or something; it's some kind of content to just watch and just see what makes you think of or how it connects to what you're working on. You just kind of gather a lot of information and just see what sticks.
Some of the things that you've worked on like Longmire and obviously the Twilight saga, those were books before they became, you know, a TV show and movies. Were those things that you read first before you got involved?
JJ: You know, I find that I have actually done a lot of things that were books before. It depends, forTwilight I definitely read before we filmed. I mean, you'd take those books up, and you can't put them down first of all, but you also want to be as much on the page of your audience as you can. And a lot of your audience has read and feels like they already have relationships with these characters. So you want to kind of honor that.
For Longmire, television is a little bit different because it happens faster, and you don't tend to have as much time to prepare. Like I probably would've read Longmire if I had had more than 48 hours to get on a plane and start filming. So it depends, I don't have a rule about that if sometimes you just feel like, ‘Oh, I should, I want to know all of this.' And sometimes you just wanna come up with it yourself.
When the new Midnight Sun book comes out, is that something on your reading list? Will you be planning to read that?
JJ: Um, yeah. Yeah. I love it.
Do you think it's going to kind of restart the fandom to kind of come out of the woodworks again?
JJ: Oh, absolutely. I think it already has. I mean, I'm not very active on social media, but can I get it? I can get a sense of when something's going on just from; however, that works. I think I would think that a lot of people are gonna read it and it ties into the previous books, and I think that's great.
You've played a lot of roles with fantasy sci-fi, and dystopian worlds. How do you like to prepare for some of these roles?
JJ: It depends, every single project and every single character is really different. It especially depends on whether it's a film or television because the timing tends to be really different. With these dystopian worlds or these things that are a little bit stretched from our exact reality. You just rely a lot on your imagination, and you have to trust the people that you're working with. And I've been really fortunate.
Is there a particular role that you think stands out as your favorite?
JJ: Hmm, I mean, there are projects that I feel like just sort of checked all of the boxes for me, and I would say that Westworld and The Mandalorian are both the first two that come to mind. But character-wise and I know you have, they're all just so it's like your children, it's like, I can't, you can't pick a favorite child. You kind of just love them differently. That's really how I feel about them.
So I also want to say that I'm a huge Mandalorian fan. I'm a huge Star Wars fan, but your episode, chapter four, was actually my favorite episode in the entire series because Omera seems to have a character with a lot of history worth telling, and rumor has it that she makes an appearance in season two. And I know you can't divulge much, but would you like her to appear in more Star Wars universe as in like books and comics?
JJ: I am a big Omera fan. Yes. I feel like there's a lot that I don't know about Omera too. So I would like love to spend more time with her and to read or see the different versions of her history and her story.
Ok, honest question. Is there a picture of you and baby Yoda on your phone?
JJ: You know what, the answer is no, there's not a picture of me and Baby Yoda on my phone. There are probably, definitely some pictures on my phone that probably shouldn't maybe be on my phone, but even I was way too scared to take a picture with Baby Yoda.
What's it like to be a part of those and kind of come into things, especially ones where you've come in, like kind of partway where they've already had like these, almost like cult followings when you've joined.
JJ: It varies, there are different elements to each one. For example, Twilight and Westworld are such different experiences. You always sort of feel like you have a family when you're working on a film, but it's like you're joining a family, a huge family. And the connection that you have with the cast and the crew and the filmmakers there's an added element to it. Cause it's not just about getting together and telling the story that's very beloved by millions of people, but you're also, kind of in it together. You're kind of like a traveling circus or something, and you have to navigate the reception of it as well. It is nice to do that with your colleagues as opposed to just kind of off on your own.
What is your dream role? What would you absolutely flip out over being cast for?
I think it would be something that encapsulates a whole bunch of qualities all at once in a big experience. I've always wanted to be a part of the Bourne Franchise. You get these smart, dynamic, athletic, international roles, with a lot of things to play, skills to acquire, and fun places to travel. You get to work with these people who are extraordinary and talented. Those are the sort of things that would make me really excited about a role. Anything that's new and a challenge is really interesting to me. I also love to produce and be involved with developing. I would love to find something to option that sort of a thing.
Working with people that are A. good people. They're talented, and they're gonna help sort of elevate my performance, and there would be an audience. I also really appreciate working on projects with some social relevance that's important to me. I'm up for anything if it feels right. I kinda like to not know what it's going to be or what it's going to look like next. So I also love to travel.
Check out some of the great organizations that Julia Jones loves to support.
- Best Buddies
- American Indian College Fund
- Amazon Deforestation
- Disproportionate cases of COVID among the indigenous.
Check out Think Like a Dog available on June 9th!