Eddie Redmayne Recalls Meeting Stephen Hawking, Telling Him, "We're Both Capricorns"—Check Out His Reply

British actor portrays the world-renowned physicist in The Theory of Everything

By Corinne Heller Sep 18, 2014 5:19 PMTags
Eddie Redmayne, M MagazineCourtesy M Magazine

Eddie Redmayne had what sounds like a rather awkward first meeting with Stephen Hawking, who he plays in the new film The Theory of Everything.

The 32-year-old British actor recalled in an interview with M magazine, which features him on the cover of its Fall 2014 issue, trying to find something to discuss with the 72-year-old world-renowned physicist, who suffers from a motor neuron disease, is confined to a wheelchair and communicates with a voice box. The topics of conversation included, well, Hawking.

"Here I was, filling the air, telling him about himself," Redmayne said. "I was a nervous wreck. He was laughing a lot. I couldn't tell if it was with me or at me. Probably a bit of both."

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And then the actor began to talk about something very far away from science.

"He makes a big point in his books that he was born on the eighth of January, which is the date of Galileo's death," Redmayne told M. "I said, ‘You're the eighth, and I was actually born on the sixth of January, so we're both Capricorns.' Long pause, and then the famous computerized voice: 'I'm an astronomer, not an astrologer,' Hawking said."

"I thought, 'Holy s--t. Stephen Hawking thinks the actor who's playing him thinks he's Mystic Meg or Shelley von Strunckel," he said, naming two astrologers.

The actor also told M he was "riddled with fear" about playing the "extraordinary man" and "living icon" in The Theory of Everything. He said he spent several months visiting a motor neuron disease clinic to prepare for his role.

"And then you feel a responsibility to the science and a need to find the emotional truth of what happened between these people," he said. "All of these things were pretty challenging, and I was fueled with fear from the word go."

The Theory of Everything also stars Felicity Jones as Hawking's love interest, Jane, plus Emily WatsonDavid ThewlisCharlie Cox and Harry Lloyd. The movie is set for release on Nov. 7.