Eddie Redmayne’s performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything is expected to earn him an Oscar at Sunday night’s Academy Awards. Redmayne has already won a BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild award for the performance. The man he plays, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, told press at London’s Science Museum that he wanted to give Redmayne some help by authorizing the use of his distinctive voice. He also regretted, in a tongue-in-cheek manner, that he couldn’t also give Redmayne some of his other assets.
“[I wanted] to give him a bit of a boost in his efforts to win an Oscar.”
“Unfortunately, Eddie did not inherit my good looks.”
Those who have seen The Theory of Everything will no doubt remember the scene where Hawking is fitted for his synthesized voice. The immediate reaction of his family upon hearing it was not a dislike of its mechanical tone, but rather, its accent. Hawking is English, but the machine does not have a British accent.
“Before I lost my voice, it was slurred, so only those close to me could understand [it]. But with the computer voice, I found I could give popular lectures.”
“Although it gave me an American accent, I have kept that voice, because it’s now my trademark.”
For his part, Redmayne has expressed gratitude towards Hawking and his family for their generosity during the making of the film. After the BAFTAs, he spoke of the trust Hawking’s family placed in him as he portrayed their personal story on-screen.
“I can’t tell you how kind they were to us. I mean it’s a scary thing having your life put out to the world, but I’m one of those people that when I see a film I believe it to be absolutely true.
And so trusting people to take your life, knowing that it’s going to shift and change in the process, isn’t a decision that’s taken lightly I suppose.”
Entertainment Weekly noted that The Theory of Everything steers clear of some of the more dramatic details in Jane Hawking’s book, upon which the movie is based. Nonetheless, EW has high praise for Redmayne’s work, in particular his physical portrayal of Hawking.
“Redmayne’s astonishing transformation lends a touch of magic to the material. Even when he’s in a wheelchair, his torso twisted, his limbs gnarled, and his ability to speak severely limited, the actor conveys Hawking’s genius and humanity (not to mention his crackling wit). It’s like watching an escape artist who’s bound and gagged free from a straitjacket.”
The Theory of Everything is up for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Redmayne, and Best Actress for Felicity Jones.
[Main image: Eddie Redmayne at the 87th Annual Academy Awards Courtesy of Getty]