Birdsong's Eddie Redmayne set to play Stephen Hawking in biopic Theory of Everything

The Les Miserables star is set to be directed by Oscar-winning Man on Wire filmmaker James Marsh
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Eddie Redmayne has given it rock all in Les Miserables, smooched Michelle Williams in My Week With Marilyn, and found himself broken-hearted on the frontline in Birdsong. But now the British actor is poised to undertake a challenge of a very different kind, playing Professor Stephen Hawking.

In what could become a career-defining role, Redmayne has been cast in a film by Working Title about Hawking and his wife soon after the former begins to develop motor neuron disease , according to Deadline Hollywood.

The film, from Oscar-winning Man on Wire director James Marsh, is called Theory of Everything.

Redmayne has also been scouted to star with Carey Mulligan in Far From the Madding Crowd, but it is believed he would prefer to work on the Hawking film.

The 31-year-old is among a number of leading young actors who are in line to play eminent innovators, mathematicians and scientists in forthcoming biopics. Benedict Cumberbatch is due to play Alan Turing in The Imitation Game and Ashton Kutcher is Apple founder Steve Jobs in jOBS.

Sherlock star Cumberbatch also played Hawking in a BBC drama about the theoretical physicist’s life in 2004.

Hawking’s popular 1988 book A Brief History of Time remained a best-seller for more than four years. He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a form of motor neurone disease, shortly after his 21st birthday.