Movie Talk

Eddie Redmayne to Play Young Stephen Hawking in 'The Theory of Everything'

Movie Talk

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Eddie Redmayne, left, is set to play Stephen Hawking

Eddie Redmayne, left, is set to play Stephen Hawking (Photo: Getty Images/AP Photo - circa 1986)

After impressing critics and film fans with his performances in "Les Miserables" and "My Week with Marilyn," British actor Eddie Redmayne will soon be tacking his most challenging role to date in the true-life story of one of the world's most influential scientists.

Redmayne will be playing famed physicist Stephen Hawking in the upcoming biopic "The Theory of Everything," which is expected to focus on Hawking's life in the mid-1960s, according to Deadline. Working Title, the British production company that also brought "Les Miserables" to the big screen, are behind the project.

Beyond his skills as an actor, Redmayne seems an ideal choice to play Hawking – he looks youthful enough to be convincing as a young man of college age, and pictures of Hawking in his days at Oxford and Cambridge prove the actor bears a genuine resemblance to the physicist in his youth.

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"The Theory of Everything" will examine an especially tumultuous period in Hawking's life. In 1963, during his first year of graduate studies at Cambridge, the promising physicist was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and was expected to live no more than two years. Hawking fell into a deep depression and abandoned his work until he fell into a relationship with fellow student Jane Wilde, a friend of his sister. The two fell in love, and Wilde gave up her studies to marry Hawking and serve as his helpmate.

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From left: Stephen Hawking and his second wife, Elaine Mason; and his first wife, Jane. (Photo: Getty)

Hawking said that his marriage to Wilde gave him "something to live for," and he dove back into his groundbreaking research while also beating the odds, remaining alive and productive to this day. (It's not known how far the story will follow Hawking and Wilde's relationship — their marriage began to deteriorate with time, and in 1995, the two divorced, with Hawking soon marrying Elaine Mason, his nurse.)

"The Theory of Everything" won’t be the first time Hawking's story has been brought to the screen. In 1991, documentary filmmaker Errol Morris made "A Brief History of Time," which not only explored the theories in Hawking's book of the same name, but also chronicled the physicist's life and times. And in 2004, Benedict Cumberbatch played the title role in "Hawking," a British made-for-TV movie about his rise to fame and struggle with MND; this was before Cumberbatch caught the eye of American viewers in the TV series "Sherlock," the "Hobbit" films, and "Star Trek: Into Darkness."

Hawking has also popped up as himself on several TV shows, making a cameo appearance on "The Big Bang Theory" and voicing himself on "The Simpsons" and "Futurama."

Anthony McCarten is writing the screenplay, and James Marsh (best known for the documentary "Man On Wire") has signed on to direct.

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