Hollywood Remembers Stephen Hawking

Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch and other stars and fellow scientists honored the famed genius in statements and on social media.

Stars paid their condolences to famed British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, the author of the worldwide best-selling book A Brief History of Time and the subject of the Oscar-winning film The Theory of Everything, following his death on Tuesday night. He was 76.

Diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at age 21, in 1963, 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 achieved worldwide fame when his book A Brief History of Time became a worldwide best-seller and sold 10 million copies.

"We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet," said Eddie Redmayne, who won the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Hawking in The Theory of Everything, in a statement. "My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family."

Felicity Jones, who played Hawking's wife Jane in Theory of Everything, said in a statement, "So sad to hear of Stephen's death. Stephen Hawking pushed the boundaries of who we are and what we believe. 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."

"I was so sad to hear that Stephen has died," said Benedict Cumberbatch, who portrayed him in BBC TV film Hawking, which focused on his early years as a PhD student. "I send my heartfelt love and condolences to all his family and colleagues. I feel so lucky to have known such a truly great man whose profundity was found both in his work and the communication of that work. Both in person and in books. He virtually created the publishing genre of popular science. A heroic feat to bring the wondrous complexities of the universe to all outside of specialists in this field. But truly courageous when considering it was achieved by a man who lived a life trapped in his body from the age of 21 when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. His support of the sciences, art, education and the NHS and charities such as the MND foundation will also live on as will his wickedly funny sense of humor. I will miss our margaritas but will raise one to the stars to celebrate your life and the light of understanding you shone so brightly on them for the rest of us. You were and are a true inspiration for me and for millions around the world. Thank you."

Anthony McCarten, who wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Theory of Everything, said in a statement: "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. 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. 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."

And Theory of Everything director James Marsh opened up about working with Hawking on the film in his own statement: "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. 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 15 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.

Our film tells the story of his diagnosis and increasingly debilitating illness, and the stark fact of that was that he was given just a few years to live whilst in his early 20’s, during the first blush of his courtship of Jane. So if there is one consoling fact on this sad day it is the fact of his miraculous longevity.

He lived an incredibly full and productive life, both as a scientist and husband and father. I am not the best person to talk about his contributions to theoretical physics, other than to note that they were original, substantial and significant. His mind was preoccupied with the fundamental questions of our existence, our place in the universe and the nature of the universe itself. In essence, here was a man who could barely move and yet his mind was able to wander the cosmos using the vehicle and language of mathematics.

Every single day must have been a challenge and a struggle to transcend the cruel ravages of his disease. His endurance, his bravery and his productivity were humbling and remarkable. Above all, he was unique in every way."

"His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it's not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018," tweeted Neil deGrasse Tyson.

"RIP Stephen Hawking. Genuinely very sad to hear that. If you haven’t, read A Brief History of Time. It’ll make the world feel more amazing and beautiful and strange. It’ll also make you feel smart and stupid all at once," wrote comic actor Kumail Nanjiani.

"Our world has lost a shining light. Stephen Hawking defied expectation," tweeted journalist Dan Rather. "Blessed with a brilliant mind and uncommon grace, he opened so many minds to the wonders of our universe. Courageous and unbowed by adversity, he believed deeply in the power reason. May he rest in peace."

Read more stars' reactions below.