Stephen Hawking is one of the most famous scientists on the planet. An icon in the fields of physics and cosmology, the author of A Brief History of Time has led a life filled with tremendous success and terrible physical hardships. Hollywood is bringing his life story to the big screen on Nov. 7 with the biopic The Theory of Everything. But rather than focus entirely on his discoveries, the film appears to find its emotional core in the relationship between Hawking and his first wife, Jane Wilde.
The first trailer for the film above gives viewers a chance to see Eddie Redmayne (My Week with Marilyn, Les Misérables) inhabit the famous physicist. Redmayne, slight of build and floppy of hair, bears a striking resemblance to the young Hawking when he was a star student at Oxford. He also appears to capture the extreme physical deterioration Hawking faced after he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in his twenties. The progressive neurodegenerative disorder eventually caused paralysis in Hawking and an inability to speak without the vocal synthesizer that has since become his trademark. (The famous voice even makes a quick cameo in the trailer.)
Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane Wilde in 1965; Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything
It’s unclear if The Theory of Everything will take artistic license with Stephen and Jane’s marriage. The real story has a messier end then you might guess from the high romance of the clip. The two were married for thirty years and had three children, but divorced after Stephen left to live with one of his nurses, who he later married. This won’t even be the first dramatization of Hawking’s life: In 2004, Benedict Cumberbatch played him in a British TV movie called Hawking.
Felicity Jones, who plays Jane, spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the role. “I had huge empathy for their situation,” Jones said. “So it’s quite intimidating when you’re playing someone who’s alive, but I can’t imagine what it’s like for them. It must be very strange to have someone playing your life, but they were supportive of the film and very trusting of us.”
Redmayne has remained mostly mum about his role, but he did briefly speak about it at the GQ Awards. Asked what he did to prepare for the role, Redmayne admitted that he studied art history in school, so his knowledge of physics was a bit lacking. “It’s taken me several months of just trying to get my head into the world of what that is,” he said.
Below is a trailer from last year’s TV documentary called Hawking with some footage of the real-life man himself if you want to see how Redmayne stacks up at first glance:
Photo credit: Focus Features