The world has suffered a great loss. On Wednesday, March 14, the family of famed physicist Stephen Hawking revealed that the beloved scientist had passed at the age of 76.
"We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today,” Hawking’s three children wrote. “He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years."
People from various fields paid tribute to the late icon, who had suffered from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. British actor Eddie Redmayne won an Oscar in 2015 for his portrayal of Hawking in 2014 biopic The Theory of Everything, which chronicled the physicist's scientific feats while exploring the complexities of his marriage to first wife, Jane, whom Felicity Jones played.
VIDEO: Eddie Redmayne, Who Won an Oscar for His Portrayal of Stephen Hawking, Remembers Late Physicist
Eddie met Stephen five days before shooting began on the film and described the experience as “this astounding moment with this man who’d become an idol in my mind.”
“I actually had feared, ‘What if this man ends up in reality being nothing like what I predicted?’” Redmayne continued. “Fortunately, in that meeting, he just emanated humor and wit and a joy of life. It became absolutely clear in meeting him that the illness is secondary.”
It seems the feeling was mutual. After viewing The Theory of Everything, Hawking commended Redmayne on his performance, writing, “I thought Eddie Redmayne portrayed me very well in The Theory of Everything movie. He spent time with ALS sufferers so he could be authentic. At times, I thought he was me. Seeing the film has given me the opportunity to reflect on my life. Although I’m severely disabled, I have been successful in my scientific work. I travel widely and have been to Antarctica and Easter Island, down in a submarine and up on a zero-gravity flight. One day I hope to go into space. I’ve been privileged to gain some understanding of the way the universe operates through my work. But it would be an empty universe indeed without the people that I love.”
Upon hearing of Hawking’s death, Redmayne shared the following statement with Deadline: “We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet. My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family.”
In addition to Redmayne’s Oscar, the actor received a Golden Globe, BAFTA, and SAG award for his portrayal of the late Hawking. The film itself received great acclaim, earning Oscar nominations for best picture, best actress (Felicity Jones), best adapted screenplay, and best original score.