By Clark Collis
Updated August 15, 2014 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Liam Daniel

Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in a film that tracks the famed theoretical physicist’s relationship with his first wife, Jane (Felicity Jones), and the struggles they faced after he was diagnosed with the crippling degenerative illness ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). ”At age 21, he was a vibrant, funny young man and he fell deeply in love with this woman,” says Redmayne. ”Our film is about how they defied all the odds.” To prepare for the role, the actor met with Hawking himself. ”Even now, when he’s unable to move,” the actor says, ”you can still see such effervescence in his eyes.” Director James Marsh, best known for his work on documentaries, including the 2009 Oscar winner Man on Wire, studied archival images to give the film authenticity.

Say Yes To The Dress
The filmmakers studied the Hawkings’ 1965 wedding photos to re-create the event in the film. ”When we had photographs and documentary footage of Stephen that related to our story, we tried to reproduce them as best we could,” says director James Marsh.

Cane Enabled
Hawking had been diagnosed with ALS just a few years before his wedding, but the photos revealed that he was already severely affected physically. ”His choice to have a walking stick even in that staged photo meant that the decline was strong enough that he couldn’t stand by himself for that moment,” says actor Eddie Redmayne.

Full Beam
The archival shots showed something else to Redmayne. ”There are some photos where he is incredibly smiley,” says the actor. ”It was a great moment of happiness.”

The Theory of Everything

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 123 minutes
  • James Marsh