Film Journeys time once again with Adam Jennings, and this time we’re taking a look at highlights from the career of Eddie Redmayne, OBE … hang on, ‘OBE’?
Yup, I was surprised at that too. He was awarded the order in 2015 for services to drama.
FILM 1: FANTASTIC BEASTS & WHERE TO FIND THEM (2016)
Released in cinemas last week, but still doing strong business a week later is FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM, the start of a new, five part franchise all taking place in the wizarding world of the Harry Potter universe. It’s set about 70 years before Harry Potter was born, and so doesn’t feature many characters from that series, (in fact it only really briefly mentions one or two … sort of), but it still holds the charming curiosity of those films; helped in part by the fact that this is author, J.K. Rowlings, first foray into screenwriting.
Eddie Redmayne plays Newt Scamander, the British wizard who travels to New York in 1926 with a suitcase full of magical creatures and a plan to document how harmless they are, in a book intended for other wizards. Fans of Harry Potter will know that this book becomes a standard text for students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
It’s in New York that, by a series of unfortunate events pretty much out of Scamanders’ control, some of his magical beasts escape, and thereby we have the ‘…and where to find them’ tagline. During his adventures to find and recapture them, he comes into contact with, and befriends Tina, Jacob and Queenie, (each played well by Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol respectively).
Is it a Harry Potter film? No, not quite. Is it fun? Yes, of course – it’s great fun and well worth seeing on the big screen; however a tiny word of caution, it’s rated a 12A, meaning those under 12 can go see if accompanied by an adult, but there are some quite intense scenes – brief, but intense. If your younger ones have seen all the previous Harry Potter films, they’ll be fine with this though, as it’s generally lighter in tone.
FILM 2: SAVAGE GRACE (2007)
Our second film is SAVAGE GRACE, from 2007. This is based on the true story of the charismatic but mentally unstable Barbara Daly, (played by Julianne Moore), who married above her class to Brooks Baekeland, heir to the Bakelite plastics fortune. Their only child, (played by Eddie Redmayne), is a failure in his father’s eyes, and as he matures and becomes increasingly close to his alienated mother, the seeds for tragedy are sown.
Redmayne plays the son, Antony, with an intensity he often displays in his work; and it’s a complex role he’s got on his hands here. It’s a performance well worth checking out, but for the sake of clarity, given the incestuous storyline for Eddie, this is definitely not a family film!
FILM 3: THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (2014)
Our final film for this Film Journey is THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING from 2014.
This film is, simply put, a look at the relationship between the famous physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife, Jane. Over the course of their marriage as Stephen’s body collapsed and his academic renown soared, little faults were exposed that tested the foundations of their relationship and dramatically altered the course of both of their lives.
Redmayne plays Hawking, with Felicity Jones – soon to be seen as the lead in the new STAR WARS film, as his wife; and his performance captures the physicality of the man exceptionally well. Biopics are always tricky for an actor to get right, as we’ve said on Film Journeys before. You want to get the emotional character of the person through on screen, but you want to steer away from merely an impression. This becomes harder when the person you are portraying is still alive, but when you are dealing with someone as well known as Stephen Hawking and also with the physical challenges he faces in real-life, that’s a tough job.
During press interviews to promote the film, Eddie himself, talked about how daunting it was to play someone like Stephen Hawking; joking that he “panicked through out of the filming”.
Eddie won his first Oscar for this film, so that panic must have helped! And it goes to show that not only are challenges a good thing, but also that even those at the top of their game don’t just whiz through it.
How about some honourable mentions?
- Les Miserable, where he sang live as they filmed
- The Danish Girl, where Eddie was nominated for many awards including an Oscar
- Jupiter Ascending, one of those films you can’t stop watching but for all the wrong reasons! Eddie actually wont the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor for this film … it was the same year he was nominated for an Oscar for The Danish Girl though. So, you know … swings and roundabouts!