She has earned Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominations in the category of Best Actress in a Drama Series for her performance as Betty Draper, the wife of high-powered, philandering advertising executive in the acclaimed series “Mad Men.” Now, January Jones plays another strong wife role, this time to Liam Neeson‘s character, in Warner Bros.’ new riveting action-thriller “Unknown.”
In the film, Dr. Martin Harris (Neeson) awakens after a car accident in Berlin to discover that his wife, Liz (Jones) suddenly doesn’t recognize him and another man (Aidan Quinn) has assumed his identity. Ignored by disbelieving authorities and hunted by mysterious assassins, he finds himself alone, tired, and on the run.
Nearly everywhere he looks for help, Martin is turned away, the first being the most devastating—when he goes to see his wife. Expecting her to be relieved to see him and to run to him with open arms, he is stunned when she greets him with nothing more than the guileless stare of a complete stranger.
January Jones was drawn to “Unknown” for the unique qualities of the story. “This was something I hadn’t read before; it was so interesting and intricate,” the actress offers. “It reminded me of those old spy movies, with a sense of danger and intrigue, but also a hint of glamour to it.”
Jones also enjoyed the enigmatic way her character was written. “Nothing was set in stone with Liz; she was very smart, but also inscrutable, and I loved how unpredictable she was. You know that Martin loves her, but her side of the story isn’t quite clear, so there was a lot to play around with,” she says.
“January is an intelligent actress and her work is very layered,” director Jaume Collet-Serra says. “She’s also beautiful in a way that is reminiscent of the femme fatales of the `50s, so she really had all the qualities we wanted to play this indefinable figure.”
“Liz Harris is the icy, sexy blond who is right in the heat of things,” producer Joel Silver comments. “January was wonderful at giving you just enough to let you know there’s more to her story, without giving anything away.”
Upcoming on the big screen, January will star as Emma Frost in the action adventure “X-Men: First Class,” due out this summer. In addition, she stars with Nicolas Cage in the thriller “The Hungry Rabbit Jumps,” under the direction of Roger Donaldson.
Jones recently starred with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Kenneth Branagh in the comedy “Pirate Radio,” written and directed by Richard Curtis. She had previously worked with Curtis as a member of the ensemble cast of his romantic comedy hit “Love Actually.”
Her additional film credits include the true-life drama “We Are Marshall,” opposite Matthew Fox and Matthew McConaughey; the indie “Swedish Auto”; Tommy Lee Jones’ “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” which debuted to critical acclaim at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival; the comedy “American Wedding”; Peter Segal’s “Anger Management,” alongside Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson; “Full Frontal,” directed by Steven Soderbergh; and Barry Levinson’s “Bandits,” with Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton and Cate Blanchett.