Having shot to stardom as Marius Pontmercy in the 2012 epic period musical Les Misérables, Eddie Redmayne got his first Academy Award three years later for The Theory of Everything, which speaks volumes about the powerhouse performer that he is. As the British actor turns 41, we pick five performances that we think are his best till date.
Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything
For James Marsh’s 2014 biopic of the world’s most celebrated scientist of the 21st century, Eddie Redmayne did the unbelievable by giving us as close a copy of Stephen Hawking as possible. Redmayne portrayed in acute detail Hawking’s physicality and the processes of losing his ability to speak and move due to Lou Gehrig’s disease. The performance fetched him his first Academy Award for Best Actor.
Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
Redmayne’s chameleon-like ability to become different characters came to the fore with full force in the 2015 film The Danish Girl, where he played a transwoman and not a hair on him looked out of place. Loosely based on the lives of Danish artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegner, the Tom Hooper directorial had Redmayne as Lili and captured her transformation from the male gender, as the first known person to undergo sex reassignment surgery. Redmayne received his second Best Actor Academy Award nomination for this challenging and brave role.
Newt Scamander in The Fantastic Beasts series
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, a Harry Potter film franchise spin-off directed by David Yates in 2016, found Redmayne playing the gawky Newt Scamander from the J.K. Rowling novel series. Redmayne appeared as Newt in two more films in the franchise — Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. But our favourite is the first film, set close to 70 years before the start of the Harry Potter series, that shows Newt writing the book Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them that Harry would later read at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Tom Hayden in The Trial of the Chicago 7
Set in 1969, Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 follows the infamous Chicago 7 trial, where a group of anti-Vietnam protesters were charged with crossing state lines with the intention of inciting riots. The 2020 film deals with themes of racism, liberalisation and feminism, and Redmayne shines as Tom Hayden, an anti-war American activist who is convicted of inciting riot, despite the presence of actors like Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Charles Cullen in The Good Nurse
Redmayne plays Charles Cullen, a nurse who’s also a serial killer, in the 2022 Netflix thriller The Good Nurse, and he seems to have tapped into the sinister mind of a murderer. Redmayne goes head-to-head with his co-star Jessica Chastain in this Tobias Lindholm directorial, as he’s undone by his fellow nurse Amy Loughren (Jessica) who finds clues to suspect Cullen of murdering hospital patients with lethal doses of insulin.