Eddie Redmayne did a great deal of preparation for his role in the upcoming Stephen Hawking biopic, The Theory Of Everything. After studying ALS patients and working with a choreographer, the Les Miserables star practiced to perform Hawking's many phases of degeneration in body and voice - as per Hawking's suggestions of slurring his voice. This realism worried the film's producers about the inevitability of subtitles – but it was ultimately decided that there was something bigger and more important at stake with the performance.
In a piece about Redmayne's buzzed-about turn in the biopic, Yahoo Movies has revealed some fascinating details about how the actor was personally coached by Stephen Hawking in how to speak like he did during his unfortunate decline in health due to the ravages of ALS. Discussing the subject of his performance, Redmayne recalled the notes that Hawking gave him in capturing his vocal character during crucial scenes:
"Stephen asked me if I was playing him before the voice machine, and when I said yes, he said, ‘My voice was very slurred.' At that time, the producers were a bit scared of getting to a place of incomprehensibility, because they didn’t want subtitles. But when Stephen said that, it re-invigorated me to go back and say ‘Look, we have to be true to what this disease is.’"
A compromise had to be struck, and thankfully it was to be had after the inclusion of his wife Jane (played by Felicity Jones) as a translator for her rapidly less-vocal husband. Subtitles or not, Eddie Redmayne was dead set on staying true to his portrayal of Stephen Hawking, which means that in addition to perfecting the speech patterns themselves, he had to discipline his body to be able to move and hold his body in the same fashion that Hawking did at various times in his life.
With a shooting schedule that meant Redmayne would be randomly jumping around the events that occur in The Theory Of Everything, Redmayne and trainer Alex Reynolds had to keep a close eye on the progression of Hawking's condition, and what point they needed to be at for what day they were shooting. But even with all of this attention to detail, he still couldn't get down the act of the grimace without guidance from the man who has worn it for so long. This amazing attention to detail not only shows how dedicated Eddie Redmayne was to portraying Stephen Hawking with the highest degree of authenticity, but also how Stephen Hawking was a very good sport when it came to the making of a film about his life.
From the looks of Hawking's final judgment of the film being "broadly true," as well as his being brought to tears by The Theory Of Everything, it's a safe bet that Eddie Redmayne's efforts have been a most successful venture. But will they be successful enough for the young actor to attract the attention of the Academy Awards voters? If the buzz on the street is any indication, it looks like Redmayne will be in good company with Benedict Cumberbatch at the 2015 Academy Awards.
The Theory Of Everything will be getting a limited theatrical release on November 7th, which will hopefully yield a wider release onto more screens soon in the following weeks. After that, you'll be able to see Eddie Redmayne swing to the other side of the Hollywood pendulum in Warner Bros' former tentpole vehicle turned dark horse sci-fi picture Jupiter Ascending, which will bed released on February 6, 2015.