Eddie Redmayne’s Statement On Stephen Hawking’s Death Calls The Physicist “The Funniest Man” He’s Met
After learning about the renowned physicist's death, Eddie Redmayne gave a statement on Stephen Hawking that included a heartfelt message to his family. “We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet,” Redmayne said, according to People. “My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family.”
Hawking passed away at age 76 in the early hours of Mar. 14, and Redmayne — who portrayed Hawking in the 2014 biographical drama The Theory of Everything — is just one of many celebrities paying tribute to his legacy.
Before Redmayne began filming The Theory of Everything, he spent four months doing a deep dive into Hawking's extraordinary life, according to Variety. "I tried to read literally everything I could get my hands on," Redmayne said. The actor worked with a physics teacher, interviewed patients at a neurology clinic, and even called in a choreographer to help him in accurately depicting Hawking's physical limitations.
Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease, at the age of 21. Doctors only gave him two years to live after his diagnosis, and while the disease eventually caused him to become largely paralyzed, he refused to let his physical limitations define his existence.
"I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many," Hawking wrote via his website, according to CNN. "I have been lucky that my condition has progressed more slowly than is often the case. But it shows that one need not lose hope."
After extensive preparation, Redmayne finally met Hawking in person a few days before The Theory of Everything began filming, according to Variety. “It was complicated when I met him, because by that point, I’d spent so much time researching him,” Redmayne said. “It was the trepidation of not only meeting someone with an extraordinary brain and iconic status, but also — what if I got it wrong?”
Of course, Redmayne did not get it wrong. His portrayal of the physicist won him an Academy Award for Best Actor in 2015, and Hawking himself had nothing but high praise for his performance. “I thought Eddie Redmayne portrayed me very well,” Hawking wrote on Facebook after seeing the film, according to People. “At times, I thought it was me.”
In fact, Hawking enjoyed the film so much that he allowed the filmmakers to use his trademarked, computerized voice — a detail they'd tried to reproduce for the film with difficulty, according to Variety.
“Seeing the film has given me the opportunity to reflect on my life," Hawking continued in his Facebook post praising the biopic. "Although I’m severely disabled, I have been successful in my scientific work. I travel widely and have been to Antarctica and Easter Island, down in a submarine and up on a zero gravity flight. One day I hope to go into space.”
He continued, “I’ve been privileged to gain some understanding of the way the universe operates through my work. But it would be an empty universe indeed without the people that I love.”
But for many people — both in Hollywood and beyond — who admired Hawking and his accomplishments, the universe likely feels a little empty in the wake of his passing. Among the many remembering Hawking are actors like Emmy Rossum, and Benedict Cumberbatch — who portrayed Hawking in Hawking, the 2004 TV movie — former Vice President Al Gore, pop stars from Cher to Katy Perry, and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
He may not have made it to space in his lifetime, but perhaps Hawking now has a place among the stars.