CODA: The Amazing Emilia Jones Talks About Taking on Joni Mitchell

Dept. Chats and Confabs


Seventeen-year-old Ruby (Emilia Jones) is the sole hearing member of her family. Besides trudging through school, her days are spent working on the family’s fishing boat and acting as an interpreter for her parents. Things begin to change, however, when she joins the school’s choir club and discovers a passion and a gift for singing. Soon, the young Ruby finds herself caught in that age old dilemma of the obligation she feels towards her family and pursuing her own dreams. CODA (which stands for Children of Deaf Adults) is a beautifully made coming of age tale that takes the familiar and transforms it into something that feels fresh.

In this Goggler exclusive, we speak to the amazing Emilia Jones about taking on something as daunting as singing Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.”

Umapagan Ampikaipakan: Emilia, you were absolutely astounding in this. I was speaking to Siân and we were talking about Joni Mitchell and the expectation that comes with singing one of her songs. Now you pull it off incredibly well. I’m sure there won’t be a dry eye during that scene when you sing “Both Sides Now.” Can you talk to be about what it was like for you in taking on something like that? 

Emilia Jones: I mean, it was daunting, that’s for sure. But in all honesty, it was the perfect song for for our film, and for Ruby at that moment in the film. I was talking to Siân recently, and she was watching a Joni Mitchell documentary, and Joni was saying that when she wrote “Both Sides Now” she was kind of meditating on fantasy and reality, this kind of childlike optimism versus adult reality. She said that the song was the work of her childhood’s end. So it’s the perfect song for CODA because Ruby is coming to the end of her childhood, and she’s at that moment in life where she feels torn between the people that she loves and also creating an identity apart from them. She has to come to terms with separating from them. So I thought it was the absolute perfect, perfect song to choose. So as daunting as it was, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. 


UA: This was a completely new world for you. You didn’t just have to sing, and learn how to gut a fish, you also had to learn a whole new language. How long did it take for you to be proficient?

EJ: So I was filming a Netflix show at the time in Toronto, and we were kind of working 75 hour weeks. And so every weekend I would practice my sign language and my singing. For nine months I trained. And I was constantly finger spelling in between takes and things. So I worked solidly for nine months. I was training for the role. But when we pulled production forward, I lost two months of prep, which meant that I was focusing a lot on my lines and less on general conversation. But when I got to Massachusetts, and I had intense training, and I met Troy, Daniel, and Marlee, and worked with them, I realized actually that I signed so much in the film, and I had worked on so much ASL, that I knew a lot more than I thought. So I turned up and I met Troy, Daniel, and Marlee, and I was signing, and we were having conversations. And it was kind of a moment for me when I was like, “oh my goodness, I’m learning a skill now.”

I was at the Lock & Key premiere a year ago, and there was a gentleman there, and he wanted me to sign something and take a photo, and he said, “I’m deaf.” He was trying to show me what he wanted. And I said, “I know sign.” And I was like, “I did a movie called CODA and I learned ASL.” And his face kind of lit up. He was so happy that someone had taken the time to learn his language. So both those moments were very freeing. And it made me go, “I need to keep this up and for the rest of my life.” Because this is a skill that now I have for life. And I’m so grateful because I don’t think I would have learnt it unless I did CODA.


UA: You mentioned Lock & Key. We’re big fans of the series. What can we expect from Season 2?

EJ: Oh, what a question. Okay, I’m going to try not to spoil anything. So we’re filming Season 3 at the moment and it’s very exciting. It feels like there’s a lot going on in the Lock & Key world. Season 2 is a lot of fun. In Season 1, you’re kind of following these characters, and they’re kind of at breaking point. They’re trying to trying to come to terms and deal with the horrendous incident that happened. Each character is flawed which, I think, at the beginning of the show was quite interesting to watch. A lot of characters on screen, and on TV, are not flawed and I liked that all these teenagers messed up and things like that. But in Season 2, everybody is happier and calmer, and we’re having a lot of fun with the keys, which I think is going to be interesting for people to watch. I loved filming it. There are lots of twists and turns. Lots and lots of keys. I’m going to shut up before I spoil anything and get into trouble.

Since you’re here, why not check out our interviews with CODA writer/director Siân Heder and Oscar winner Marlee Matlin. You can also read our incredibly gushy review of the film here.

CODA is now streaming on Apple TV+.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

Previous Story

The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf Review

Next Story

10 Thoughts I Had While Bored Watching Netflix’s Beckett

Latest from Interviews