Screening Series: ‘Theory of Everything’: Eddie Redmayne on becoming Stephen Hawking

Actor Eddie Redmayne says that becoming Stephen Hawking took a team, in this highlight from the Envelope Screening Series presentation of “The Theory of Everything.”


To portray the famed cosmologist Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything,” Eddie Redmayne had to come up with just the right equation: part physical transformation, part emotional understanding, part personal interpretation.

At a recent Envelope Screening Series presentation of the film, the 32-year-old actor talked about his extensive preparation to play one of the greatest scientific minds on the planet, who also lives with a debilitating motor neuron disease.

“I had this instinct to go back to a kind of more old-school way that certainly they used to do in Hollywood, of surrounding yourself with a team,” Redmayne said. “My instinct was that everything would affect everything. So anything you were doing physically, if it was veiled by the wrong costuming, then it wouldn’t work, and that in turn would have to work with whatever you were doing makeup-wise.”


For Redmayne, it took a village to bring Hawking to life on screen, including director James Marsh, costume designer Steven Noble, makeup artist Jan Sewell and movement director Alex Reynolds.

Because the film chronicles the onset of Hawking’s disease but was shot out of order, Redmayne and costar Felicity Jones (playing Hawking’s first wife, Jane) had to come up with a system to keep the physicality of his performance consistent.

“Because every day both of us were jumping between playing Stephen and Jane in their 40s to their 20s, and because this disease, the decline of it is so specific — that once a muscle stops working, it never starts again — there needed to be a rigor, a technical rigor in the prep that we could do,” Redmayne said.

“I wrote out a sort of chart with all the muscles as they were declining, and where he was vocally, and whether he was on a stick or two sticks, or which chair … in order that we had that clarity when it came to actually playing together.”

For more from Redmayne, Jones, producer-writer Anthony McCarten and producer Lisa Bruce, watch the clip above and go here for other Envelope Screening Series videos.

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