Les Misérables star Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, a film that tracks the famed theoretical physicist’s relationship with his first wife, Jane (Felicity Jones), and the struggle they faced after he was diagnosed with the crippling degenerative illness ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). “At age 21, he was a vibrant, funny young man, and he fell deeply in love with this woman,” Redmayne says. “Our film is about how they defied all the odds.”
To prepare for the film, which is released Nov. 7, the actor met with Hawking himself. “Even now, when he’s unable to move, you can still see such effervescence in his eyes,” he says.