“We all have the sense of Stephen Hawking, the icon,” Eddie Redmayne says in an explanatory video for the science-minded biopic, “The Theory of Everything.” What fewer people know, according to the Best Actor candidate, is the life before Hawking published “A Brief History of Time” catapulted the wheelchair-bound scientist to mainstream fame. For instance, Redmayne was not aware that Hawking's motor neuron disease only began inhibiting him while pursuing a doctorate in his twenties. We forgive you, Eddie – mostly because there's even more to discover in “Theory of Everything” than the straight-forward facts.
From “Man on Wire” director James Marsh, “Theory of Everything” chronicles Hawking's more emotional pursuits, delving into his relationship with Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) and the ailment that would challenge and warp their marriage (the couple divorced in 1995 after 30 years of marriage). The film flirts with Hawking's cosmological theories, but the focus is on the give and take of its two leads.
Particularly relevant to the movie's character-driven soul are Jones' dramatic observations in the above video. While Redmayne has earned raves for his transformative role, it's Jones who surprises. In the actresses' hands, Jane fights through and survives physical trials of her own. Jones makes a compelling case in the featurette that “Theory of Everything” needed to happen so that audiences realize how intertwined Hawking's successes are intertwined with his ex-wife's. She's right.
“The Theory of Everything” hits theaters Nov. 7