'Theory of Everything,' a film study of Stephen Hawking's universe

Mon Sep 8, 2014 2:37pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Mary Milliken

TORONTO (Reuters) - Actor Eddie Redmayne spent seven months working with a choreographer to prepare for the biggest role of his career, ironically a man whose body is reduced by disease to miniscule movement in his hand and face.

That man, British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, is one of the most recognizable figures in the world and landing the role in the film "The Theory of Everything" gave Redmayne "a moment of euphoria followed by a moment of deep fear."

Redmayne, a 32-year-old Londoner, says he went "old-school" in his preparation and spent months with the choreographer at clinics with patients of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He took photos of a young Hawking to an expert to study the stages of his decline over 25 years, including the loss of his voice.

"I spent six to seven months working with this dancer to embed it my body," Redmayne told Reuters over the weekend ahead of the film's premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival Sunday.

By the time shooting started, Redmayne's goal was to have the physical part down so well that he could concentrate just on the emotions.

It looks like he pulled it off, judging by Hawking's critique.

"He gave Eddie the enormous compliment of saying 'I thought it was me on screen,'" said director James Marsh. "That tells you a lot about Eddie's performance. It passed the biggest test."

Variety critic Justin Chang said "Redmayne's performance nails all the outward manifestations without unnecessary exaggeration," and predicted the Focus Features film would fare well critically and commercially when it opens in North America on Nov. 7.   Continued...

Eddie Redmayne stars as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.
REUTERS/Focus Features