Going to see The Theory of Everything? Bring the tissues. This emotional film tells the powerful love story of acclaimed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne ) and his wife, Jane (Felicity Jones ), as they meet at Cambridge, fall in love, and then learn of his Motor Neuron Disease diagnosis. (Remember the viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? It’s the same disease.) We caught up with the stars earlier this year when they stopped by our pop-up portrait studio at the Toronto International Film Festival. “For me, this film is an unconventional love story about love in all its different guises,” Redmayne told InStyle of the movie, which is based on Jane’s memoir, Traveling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen. “It’s young love, it’s passionate love, it’s family love, it’s love of a subject like science. But it’s also about the flaws and humanity.” Those aren't the only juicy tidbits Redmayne and Jones revealed when they stopped by InStyle's #TIFF14 pop-up portrait studio. Scroll down for seven fun facts about the movie, and check it out in theaters starting Nov. 7.
1. Eddie Redmayne feared the judgment of Stephen Hawking.
“When I got cast in this part it was like, the most extraordinary opportunity,” Redmayne said. “He is such a formidable man, and so there was a moment of complete ecstatic euphoria that lasted about a second and a half, and from then it’s just been fear and trepidation. Because when you’re playing somebody who’s alive, you know that ultimately you’re going to get their judgment. And so when Stephen saw the film and Jane and the Hawking family saw the film, and enjoyed it, that for us was the greatest compliment.”
2. Redmayne went through intense preparation.
“I spent six or seven months going to ALS clinics in London, meeting doctors and lots of people suffering from that disease and their families and basically tried to immerse myself and work out what Stephen’s physical decline would have been,” he said. “I wanted to do all that work first off so that when we actually came to filming, it was just about Felicity and I engaging and the emotion and the humor and the wit and all of those aspects. Stephen is properly one of the funniest men I’ve ever met.”
3. To prepare, Felicity Jones spent hours with Jane Hawking.
“It was so intimidating," she said. "There is a responsibility to play someone who’s actually living and I just wanted to capture her essence, the essence of a woman who’s very, very strong willed. She has a force-like character, and she’s someone who doesn’t take no for an answer. I wanted to show how dealing with someone with disability, it really tests you as a person. And it makes you tough. Mothers and wives are fascinating and interesting people. Sometimes in Hollywood films they’re not played in the truthful way they should be.”
4. Jones read Jane Hawking’s book six times during the process.
“I read it cover to cover!” she said. “Before filming, during filming—I’ve come back to it often. She’s very candid in the book, so it was really helpful as an actor to have that almost internal monologue of Jane so that I could inhabit her as much as possible. It was just so important to tell Jane’s story, because she is a phenomenal woman. And Stephen said it himself, he wouldn’t have survived without Jane. Jane’s persistence, her care, and attention was mindblowing. Often with people who are famous or very successful, there’s someone in the background who’s doing a lot of the hard work who you never see, who’s doing a lot more of the less glamorous thing. It was so important to me to tell the story of someone who is incredibly complicated and interesting in her own right. There was no way that I was going to let her be relegated to the wife role.”
5. Redmayne was on crutches the first day on set.
"I hadn’t slept the night before [the first night of filming], I was so nervous," he said. "I was being picked up at 5 a.m., so I basically started the film without a night of sleep—the only night of my life in which I have not slept a wink. And on that first day, the first scene was him young and healthy, and then at lunchtime I was on two walking sticks, and then in the evening I was in the third chair because we couldn’t shoot chronologically. And so that day was a real trial by fire. That was day one.”
6. This project has taught Redmayne to live life more fully.
“One of the Motor Neuron nurses I had spoken to told me that living with Motor Neuron Disease is like a death sentence. So you have to live life to the fullest when you have that sort of thing hanging over you. You have to make sure you exploit every minute of your life, because who knows. We all forget, because of course we get caught up in our own things, but that’s something I take away from the experience.”
7. Redmayne thinks the Ice Bucket Challenge is THE BEST.
“This disease has been around for a long, long time, and they are really struggling to get any closer to finding a cure, and that’s massively due to investment. So the Ice Bucket Challenge for me has been the most wonderful thing, because it’s made people aware. There is confusion because there are so many different terms for the disease, like ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, MND for Motor Neuron Disorder. So this makes people aware, and at the same time, they have raised a lot of money. I did it! I did it with Jamie Dornan. He’s one of my best mates."
Watch a trailer of the movie below.