by Jade Inglada
What began as a question soon became the development of a different love story from the life of physicist Stephen Hawking, unveiled through the film “The Theory of Everything.”
The film is based off of his wife’s, Jane Hawking, memoir, “Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen.”
Stephen Hawking, played by Eddie Redmayne, is a student at the University of Cambridge when he is soon diagnosed with motor neuron disease, which is related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and only has two years to live.
He falls in love with fellow student and soon-to-be wife Jane Wilde, played by Felicity Jones, and the story follows their lives as they dive into an uncertain future together.
Producer and screenwriter Anthony McCarten revealed the film had spent about 10 years in the making.
McCarten first approached Jane about turning her book into a movie in 2004. She was cautious about his proposal, but was willing to hear him out.
Although Jane did not immediately give her approval like he had hoped, she told McCarten to write a script for her to read and then they could talk again.
“In time she (Jane) grew in confidence. We built trust between us, and Jane, her children and finally Stephen were able to grow into the idea of a film made about this delicate material,” McCarten said.
Jane eventually turned over the rights for the film eight years later.
When it came time to watch it, Hawking had tears running down his cheeks by the end, McCarten said. Jane felt as if she were walking on air.
McCarten said the gratitude he felt was the most satisfying feeling.
Redmayne pursued the film in its early stages, determined to be part of it. He had attended Trinity College, Cambridge University in his youth and had seen Hawking across the campus. He could only compare Hawking’s presence to that of a rock star.
According to Redmayne, he originally believed the film was going to be a biopic, but upon reading the script he found it exceeded all of his expectations.
He spent four months prior to the 45 days of shooting doing as much as he could to immerse himself in different dimensions of Hawking’s life to prepare for his role.
“What I love about my job is you never know what path you’re going to go down next or what part you’re going to be playing,” Redmayne said. “The variety is what keeps you excited and passionate about what I do.”
He made weekly visits to patients with ALS at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Queen’s Square, London.
Some patients invited Redmayne into their homes and allowed him to witness the emotional side of ALS and how it affected families.
Despite the many accomplishments Hawking made throughout his career, McCarten said that it was more important to him that the film focused more on the ALS story and struggles he and Jane faced together more than the science.
“Theirs is a unique love story,” McCarten said. “It’s not one audiences will be used to and it’ll take them on an unusual journey.”
McCarten said that while the end result of some films lead to disappointment because the idea wasn’t executed properly or it was lacking, he was happy with the overall outcome and the hard work from the crew and actors that went into it.
Both Redmayne and McCarten took away similar ideas inspired by Hawking by the end of the film: living life to the fullest and appreciating what a person has. “Sometimes we forget we only have one shot,” Redmayne said.
“If you keep an active, curious mind and a sense of humor, then you can overcome everything life has to throw at you,” McCarten said.
“The Theory of Everything” was released in theaters on Nov. 7 and it’s rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and suggestive material.