Ladies and gentlemen, Eddie Redmayne is about to explode
An actor or actress can be on the periphery of stardom for what seems like an eternity before the right role comes along at the right time and transforms his or her career. Do you know how many times you probably saw Michael Fassbender on screen before he technically broke out four years ago? Did you know Benedict Cumberbatch had been a working actor for almost a decade before he finally got Hollywood's attention after "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and "Sherlock" (2011)? Enter the latest star on the verge of global recognition: Eddie Redmayne.
Ironically a good friend of Cumberbatch's, the London native has been a fixture in front of moviegoers since he earned his big break starring alongside Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie in Robert De Niro's "The Good Shepherd" (2006). And, he’s actually worked pretty consistently since, starting with "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (2007), starring as Kristen Stewart’s love interest in the Sundance indie "The Yellow Handkerchief" (2008) and landing a role in the studio period piece "The Other Boleyn Girl" (2008). He became the global face for Burberry in 2008, won a Tony Award in 2010 for the play "Red" and was the man Marilyn Monroe left behind in "My Week with Marilyn" (2011). Most moviegoers recognize him, however, from his beautiful singing voice in Tom Hopper’s Best Picture nominee “Les Misérables” (2012). The 32-year-old clearly hasn’t been hiding, but unless you’re a hardcore cinephile or movie musical fan, you've likely just recognized his face. You've heard this before and you'll hear it again, but in Mr. Redmayne's case, it's the absolute truth:
That's all about to change.
Redmayne is a sly charmer. He’s funny, candid, self-deprecating and he’s been doing this long enough to say the right things to perk up an interview. It's a few days following the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of "The Theory of Everything" and Redmayne is sitting comfortably in a nondescript hotel suite for what is only the beginning of a mountain of interviews he'll do for the James Marsh-directed biopic. But, again, he's done this before. He knows exactly what to say.
"The first time in my life I have sort of almost a six pack," Redmayne says. "I didn't get my day of going to the beach."
While it's hard to imagine the slight Redmayne never having achieved this feat without having to attempt just a few simple crunches, it's his way of poking fun at the dramatic turn he made from playing an otherworldly villain in the Wachowskis' "Jupiter Ascending" to one of the greatest cosmologists we've ever known, Stephen Hawking, in "The Theory of Everything."
Based on Jane Hawking’s memoir "Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen," "Theory" centers on the relationship between Hawking and his first wife, Jane. Given only two years to live following a diagnosis of motor neuron disease, the couple raised three children while Stephen continued to deteriorate physically and flourish professionally. Directed by James Marsh, an Oscar winner for the documentary "Man on Wire," the film is an honest portrayal of a marriage that can only take so many obstacles before the core relationship begins to fracture. Not only is Redmayne superb as Stephen, but Felicity Jones is awards-worthy as Jane as well.
"I remember when I first read the script I was working on 'Jupiter Ascending' and I was having to go and attempt to get a six-pack [for that role]," Redmayne says. "I was working with this trainer and eating chicken and doing sit-ups, eight zillion sit-ups."
What he soon discovered was that his trainer on "Jupiter" also had experience with patients who suffered from the same condition that changed Hawking's life. That was Redmayne's first "in" to the character and it was conveniently close. Soon after "Jupiter" wrapped, however, the actual physical transformation began. He had to lose all the muscle he'd gained for "Jupiter" (a stone, or 14 pounds) and begin to train his body to tighten up as he attempted to achieve what Hawking still goes through on a daily basis. Redmayne had the luxury of about five months to prepare for the film and he needed it.