Redmayne grabs 'glint' of Stephen Hawking in 'Theory of Everything'

Tue Nov 4, 2014 9:58am EST
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Every day before filming began on "The Theory of Everything" Eddie Redmayne would gaze at three photos to help him convey the essence of Stephen Hawking, the brilliant British scientist he portrays in the film.

The 32-year-old actor had spent months working on portraying the near total physical paralysis of the astrophysicist and author of "A Brief History of Time," who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease.

But Redmayne ("Les Miserables") knew he had to project Hawking's wit, lady's man charm and mischievous glint, hence the photographs of Albert Einstein sticking out his tongue, actor James Dean and the joker in a pack of cards.

"They would sit on my trailer wall and before going to work I would take a last glance and remember to find that glint," he said.

"The Theory of Everything," which opens in select U.S. theaters on Friday, is a love story that chronicles Hawking's romance and marriage to his first wife, Jane, played by British actress Felicity Jones ("The Amazing Spider-Man 2"), and is based on her memoir.

It begins with their meeting at Cambridge University in the 1960s, his diagnosis at age 21 when he is told he has two years to live, and follows them as they overcome the obstacles of his illness, through their lengthy marriage and his international fame.

Redmayne met Hawking just days before filming and worried the meeting would undermine his preparation. But instead it gave him exactly what he needed.

"What I took away from the experience of meeting him was his razor-sharp wit, his capacity not to miss a beat," Redmayne said. "He sees everything. He controls a room. He has a formidable power, like a sense. He emanates strength."   Continued...

Cast member Eddie Redmayne poses during "The Theory of Everything" premiere in Beverly Hills, California October 28, 2014. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian