Stephen Hawking has given his official stamp of approval to the new film about his incredible life, The Theory of Everything.
In an exclusive video, the famed theoretical physicist gives his first public comments on the film saying, “I thought Eddie Redmayne portrayed me very well” and that “at times, I thought he was me.” Hawking, of course, speaks using his distinctive computerized voice that he lent to the production for Redmayne to use in later scenes.
Redmayne is a leading Oscar contender for his career-defining turn as Hawking, who he portrays from his young and healthy days as a student at Cambridge through his struggle with the debilitating motor neuron disease that has left him almost fully paralyzed. The actor studied photos of Hawking for months, consulting with doctors, experts, and movement coaches to internalize and master the complicated physical devolvement.
He also worked on mastering Hawking’s ever-more-slurred voice (the scientist lost it totally in 1985), motivated in part by his meeting with Hawking five days before production started.
"Stephen asked me if I was playing him before the voice machine, and when I said yes, he said, ‘My voice was very slurred,’” Redmayne told Yahoo Movies last month. “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.’”
As director James Marsh says in the video, Redmayne went through a great deal of hardship to nail down each complicated aspect of the role, which was made even more complicated because they could not shoot the film in sequence. Hawking agrees with the director. ”I think Eddie’s commitment will have a big emotional impact,” he says.