Following the early Wednesday passing of famed British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, stars from the late scientist and author’s biopic, The Theory of Everything, paid their condolences to the “beautiful mind” who inspired them throughout filming.
“We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet,” Eddie Redmayne, who won the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Hawking in the film, said in a statement. “My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family.”
Felicity Jones, who played Hawking’s wife Jane, shared the same admiring sentiments. “So sad to hear of Stephen’s death. Stephen Hawking pushed the boundaries of who we are and what we believe,” the actress said in a statement. “An extraordinary human who could bring humor to the most despairing moments and find hope in the unknown. He showed the world that anything is possible. My thoughts are with his wonderful family in this difficult time.”
Theory of Everything director James Marsh recalled Hawking’s support throughout filming, even offering the filmmakers use of his own voice after noticing their struggle to accurately portray his electronic voice.
“I had the privilege of making The Theory of Everything, which was a film primarily about Stephen’s marriage to Jane, his first wife. I can’t say he was thrilled about the idea when he heard about it but he was typically gracious about it and raised no objections,” Marsh’s statement read. “When he came to our set as we re-created a May ball in a Cambridge College, he quaffed a lot of champagne and gave us his more active blessing. We showed him the film when it was finished and then had an agonizing wait as he methodically rendered his verdict via his speech device. It took about fifteen minutes. His judgment was generous — he declared the film to be ‘broadly true.” He also noted that we hadn’t quite got his electronic voice right and wondered whether we would care to use his actual voice. So the finished film does indeed use Stephen’s signature voice and was all the better for it.”
Anthony McCarten, who wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay, praised the physicist for surpassing the difficulties of living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
“Stephen Hawking’s life was devoted to wondering and to wonder. Upon hearing that he died today, my first thought was that if you’d told him at 21, when he received the cold verdict from a doctor that he had two years to live, and there was nothing they could do for him medically, that he’d never have imagined he’d live another 55 years,” the statement read. “He was a molecular miracle, both physically and intellectually, and it was one of the great honors of my life to have met him, spent some time with him, and been his cinematic biographer”
Added McCarten: “I will always remember his reaction to his first viewing of The Theory of Everything. As the lights rose in the private theater, his nurse wiped a tear from his cheek and he began to type — a laborious process for him — his verdict: ‘Broadly true.’ His place in history is assured, for his pioneering work on understanding black holes and the early universe, but I will remember him for his bravery, his wit and the object lesson he delivered every day, that life is what you make it. Travel well Steve, to your rightful place among the stars. I trust that in death you have fulfilled your life’s ambition, to know the mind of God.”
Diagnosed with ALS at age 21, Hawking went on to win numerous awards for his research in the field of theoretical physics such as the Albert Einstein Award in 1978 and a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
Hawking is survived by his three children, including journalist and novelist Lucy Hawking.