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‘Theory of Everything’ Star Eddie Redmayne Knows How to Play the Oscar Game

'Theory of Everything' Star Eddie Redmayne Knows How to Play the Oscar Game

Campaigning for a little golden statue during film awards season isn’t for every actor. Just ask Michael Fassbender or Mo’Nique, both of whom famously opted out of schmoozing their way to the Academy Awards (they earned nominations regardless for “12 Years a Slave” and “Precious,” respectively — Mo’Nique even won). For up-and-coming British actor Eddie Redmayne, that clearly isn’t the case.

The “Theory of Everything” star was in his element at Tuesday’s posh luncheon for the Focus Features’ Oscar hopeful, wining and dining with the Academy and charming members of the press (myself included).

Shortly after sitting down at The Lotos Club in the Upper East Side, a beaming Redmayne launched into conversation, professing his admiration for Indiewire (no joke), telling me that he was “gagging” to see “Interstellar” and “Birdman,” and that he loved “99 Homes,” which stars his “best friend” Andrew Garfield. After learning that I pursued acting before becoming a journalist, Redmayne recounted the time he flubbed his audition for the role of Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit” trilogy by putting on an affected voice and a bad experience as a waiter at the British equivalent of the Daytime Emmy Awards.

In short, Redmayne knows how to charm and lead a discussion — factors that will no doubt help him in the months ahead as he’s paraded by Focus throughout the Oscar season.

READ MORE: Watch: New ‘The Theory of Everything’ Trailer Might Make You Burst Into Tears

Thankfully for Redmayne, he also has a great performance to tout. In “The Theory of Everything,” directed by Oscar-winner James Marsh (“Man On a Wire,” “Project Nim”), the actor undergoes a startling physical transformation to play renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who suffers from a debilitating motor neuron disease that renders him speechless. Redmayne revealed in a post-lunch discussion, moderated by “The Hours” director Stephen Daldry, that he took a whopping four months to prep physically for the performance by meeting with ALS specialists and working with a dancer. “It was like training for a marathon,” he said of the experience, which prompted a woman at my table to mutter, “Wow.” 

The talk wasn’t all grandstanding however. “The Theory of Everything” is light on science and heavy on romance by tracking the complicated relationship with Hawking’s first wife, Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones), who Hawking leaves over the course of the film for his nurse, whom he later married. As Marsh’s film makes very clear, Hawking is a ladies’ man (despite his affliction, his automatic systems aren’t affected) — a fact Redmayne was more than happy to address.

“When I was lucky enough to meet Stephen, I had an hour to myself with him,” Redmayne recounted. “Felicity was outside in the car. I was so nervous to meet him. By this point I had spent months researching him. I hate silence, so when I met him I just basically vomited forth information about Stephen Hawking to Stephen Hawking. He sort of just looked at me and then was warm and wonderful. But the second that Felicity walked in, I became invisible.”

“The Theory of Everything” opens November 7.

Watch the entire post-lunch discussion below:

READ MORE: Toronto Review: Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones Salvage Stephen Hawking Biopic ‘The Theory of Everything’

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