LOS ANGELES – Focus Features is circling the wagons with the release of James Marsh's Stephen Hawking biopic “The Theory of Everything” imminent. Tuesday night's Los Angeles premiere was well-attended and response has the studio excited, while the film's stars, Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, along with producer Lisa Bruce and screenwriter Anthony McCarten took part in a Wednesday afternoon luncheon in West Hollywood to bend the ear of select press.
Redmayne – dapper as ever – spoke a little about the work that went into training his muscles so they wouldn't flare up after bending his frame into that of the ALS-afflicted Hawking for a number of scenes in the film. While he's confined to a wheelchair for much of the film, it's still quite a physical performance in that regard. “There were things like emergency acupuncture, if you tweaked something,” he said.
I also asked him about Hawking's popular-science tome “A Brief History of Time,” which he praised for – at least in the early stages – making the heady subject matter quite palatable for the general reader. “By page 15 I'm thinking, 'I get this! I'm about to learn the secrets of the universe,'” he said. “But somewhere between the second and third chapter, I was lost…I mean, I studied art history!”
Jones, meanwhile, talked at length about Marsh's documentary background and how, much like “The Theory of Everything,” his Oscar-winning doc “Man on Wire” was “about a strong personality, but without judgment,” she said. “I think you feel empathy for everyone [in this film].”
That empathy regards the direction Hawking and his wife Jane's lives take as his ailment becomes more and more of a burden on their relationship. But when infidelity comes into the picture, there are no pointed fingers. It's just a crushing acceptance that actually leads to one of the film's most devastatingly beautiful but heart-wrenching moments between Redmayne and Jones (and one that would make a juicy Oscar clip for either).
But how did Hawking feel about the fact that Jane's book would be the source of McCarten's screenplay? The writer and novelist – who has been trying to get “Theory” made for nearly a decade – quipped, “What man wants his story told by his ex-wife? But he's a very, very generous man…He's such a fascinating figure, this man telling us about the universe through his computer. When he saw the film, he wept.”
“The Theory of Everything” opens Nov. 7.