After making the buzz at the last Sundance Festival, the film “CODA” finally arrives on our screens on August 13, 2021 on Apple TV +. This is the American remake of the French film with 7 million admissions “La Famille Bélier”. We caught up with Emilia Jones, the performer of the lead role (Ruby) to discuss this experience that will remain etched in her memory.
CODA with Emilia Jones: what is it?
After winning all the prizes at the last Sundance festival, the film CODA directed by Sian Heder (Tallulah) finally arrives on our screens, on Apple TV +, on August 13.
Ruby (Emilia Jones), aged 17, is the only member of her family who is not deaf, hence the acronym of the title (“child of deaf adults”). Her life comes down to acting as an interpreter for her parents (Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur) and working every morning, before heading to class, on the family fishing boat with her father and older brother (Daniel Durant). But when Ruby joins her school choir, she discovers she has a gift for singing and quickly feels an attraction to Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), her duo partner. And when her choir director (Eugenio Derbez), a firm but enthusiastic mentor, invites her to apply to a prestigious music school, she finds herself torn between her family obligations and the pursuit of her dreams.
If these lines remind you of something, it’s okay. CODA is the American remake of the successful French film The Aries Family released in 2014. Except for a few details. In CODA, which takes place in Gloucester, Massachusetts, Ruby’s parents are not farmers, but fishermen. To interpret them, unlike Karin Viard and François Damiens, the producers called on real deaf actors (Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur), which gives the whole a touching authenticity. Ruby’s brother is also played by a deaf actor: Daniel Durant.
Meet Emilia Jones (Ruby)
If for The Aries Family, the producers hired a singer (Louane) to play the lead role, Emilia Jones (Ghostland, Locke & Key) told us not to have never took singing lessons before filming of CODA. A surprise, as her singing talents are obvious.
I had never taken singing lessons. When I sang I just hoped it was good. I knew Ruby had to be the best to be chosen, so a voice in my head told me I had to be good enough to be chosen. I had never sung live like this. Ruby is in this situation too. She’s stressed out when she sings, isn’t sure she’s good, and needs to challenge herself. Getting away from it all and singing, she loves it. And me too.
For the film, Emilia Jones also had to learn the sign language. An enriching experience that she will not soon forget:
It was the best experience of my life (…) sign language is so physical that it allowed me to escape and embody what I really wanted to convey. We cannot hide behind words. So it was very different. It was a real challenge. In general, when I play, I find that it doesn’t take too much to get the message across. I think internalizing emotions sometimes has more of an impact than revealing everything. This is how I work. And for CODA it was quite the opposite. I had to embody the text, to convey the message with my body (…) it allowed me to connect more to the text, and to transmit more emotions.
Regarding the remake of The Aries Family, Emilia Jones admits watching the original right after being cast for the role of Ruby but believes that the two films are quite different:
I watched it right after I landed the part, and I thought it was great. I find both films a declaration of love to the family. They make us laugh and cry at the same time. Even though it’s a similar story, I find them different. That’s what I liked too. May this remake have its own identity.