Eddie Redmayne did not watch Benedict Cumberbatch play Stephen Hawking before The Theory of Everything

Both actors have now portrayed the physicist on screen to widespread acclaim

Jess Denham
Wednesday 10 December 2014 11:21 GMT
Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything
Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything (Universal)

Eddie Redmayne has said that he did not watch Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Stephen Hawking in preparation for his own Oscar-tipped performance in The Theory of Everything.

The British actor, 32, stars as the world-renowned physicist in the acclaimed film, due for release on New Year’s Day 2015.

But his “old pal”, Sherlock star Cumberbatch, played the role first in BBC TV film Hawking ten years ago and earned a Bafta nomination for his efforts.

“I thought long and hard about [watching] it,” Redmayne told the BBC ahead of the movie’s London premiere last night.

“I heard it was breathtaking. I knew myself well enough to know that if I watched it I’d try to steal little bits.”

The Theory of Everything follow’s Hawking’s life from his studies at Cambridge University and his relationship with first wife Jane Wilde to his harrowing diagnosis with motor neurone disease aged just 21.

Redmayne first met Hawking just days before he began shooting the movie, at which point he had undertaken four months research into the lives of those with motor neurone disease.

“He has a real force of charisma and humour and incisive wit and a sense of mischief,” Redmayne said.

“I describe him as a lord of misrule. Even though it’s difficult for him to communicate he’s absolutely in charge of a room. He’s gone from icon to idol status in my mind.”

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