The life of theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking is told in the new feature film The Theory of Everything, which is showing in cinemas now. British actor Eddie Redmayne plays the man with the extraordinary mind who was diagnosed with the motor neurone disease when he was a graduate student at Cambridge.
Redmayne has been nominated for an Oscar for his performance. Hawking has said he found the actor so convincing that there were moments during the film when he thought he was seeing himself on the screen. The actor prepared for the role by spending time with MND patients and doctors – but he made a decision not to watch the 2004 film Hawking in which his friend Benedict Cumberbatch played the scientist.
“I thought long and hard about it, ” Redmayne said. “I heard it was breathtaking. I knew myself well enough to know that if I watched it I’d try to steal little bits.”
As it happens, Cumberbatch is also nominated for an Oscar this year for his portrayal of another British scientist – the Enigma code breaker and computer pioneer Alan Turing, in The Imitation Game.
Hawking, who is now 72, has lived with MND for 50 years, defying medical expectations that he would die young. Since 2005 he has communicated by means of a device which he controls with his cheek muscles at the rate of one word a minute. He is perhaps best known for his attempt to explain theoretical physics to a lay audience. Hawking’s book A Brief History of Time was published in 1988 and has sold about nine million copies.
For those readers who are interested in watching Benedict Cumberbatch play the part of the physicist, Village Roadshow Entertainment is giving away five DVDs of Hawking. To enter, follow this link. https://cosmosmagazine.wufoo.eu/forms/win-1-of-5-copies-of-hawking-2004/