Within nerd spheres, Eddie Redmayne is perhaps most well known for portraying the adorably awkward Hufflepuff, Newt Scamander. Redmayne took up his wand in the lead role during the first movie of the series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (a spin-off of the Harry Potter franchise) in 2016. He continued his role during the second movie (Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald) and will hopefully continue throughout the next three planned movies in the series.
However, beyond the lovable Newt, Redmayne has portrayed countless other characters that span multiple genres, displaying his truly versatile nature as an actor. As such, we want to introduce you to a few more characters from his catalogue.
The Theory of Everything (2014)
Redmayne’s outstanding performance as the infamous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything is one of his most popular roles to date. Redmayne’s heartbreakingly beautiful portrayal of Hawking’s descent into the throes of ALS and the challenges that accompany it in the biographical romantic drama garnered him multiple prestigious awards in 2015, including a BAFTA, Oscar, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award. While the film does extensively explore the effects that ALS had on Hawking’s life, it never neglects his life’s work and the advancements he made in theoretical physics. Stephen Hawking himself is said to have cried while watching the film. Redmayne truly outdid himself in this piece, earning accolades and professional clout alike in this truly wonderful movie.
Les Misérables (2012)
Les Misérables, a historical musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s book of the same name, was a raging success back in 2012, making almost $442 million at the box office. With a star-packed cast including Hugh Jackman (Valjean), Anne Hathaway (Fantine), Russell Crowe (Javert), Amanda Seyfried (Cosette), Helena Bonham Carter (Madame Thénardier), and more, Redmayne was one of many talented individuals whose performance made this production such a standout piece. Redmayne’s portrayal of Marius Pontmercy, a man who falls in love with Jean Valjean’s adopted daughter, Cosette, and subsequently finds himself embroiled in a small revolution, was truly amazing, doubtlessly influenced by his background in theatre. Redmayne’s musical prowess stood out just as much as his acting did with multiple emotion-filled performances such as “Do You Hear the People Sing?” (one of my personal favorites), “One Day More,” and “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.” Redmayne’s phenomenal performance in Les Misérables can definitely be considered one of his “breakout” roles that catapulted him into the spotlight of the general public, as his popularity has only increased exponentially since its release back in 2012.
Black Death (2010)
Black Death sees Redmayne take on another historical role. This time in the role of a monk, Osmund, who leaves his monastery with a group of men sent by a bishop in order to investigate a village that has not yet succumbed to the plague. They believe the reason to be the supernatural work of a necromancer. Redmayne is excellent in his portrayal of the wide-eyed innocence of Osmund as he must face the realities of the world during the Black Death. He also has great chemistry with Sean Bean and Carice van Houten (yes, this film has Game of Thrones vibes) whose characters, Ulric and Langiva respectively, have a tempestuous relationship with Osmund. As the story unfolds, you begin to question whether what you see, courtesy of Osmund’s point of view, is real as Redmayne portrays an amazing depth of grief as Osmund mourns his previous life and struggles with his faith. However, be warned, as this film is rather gruesome, so it is not one for the faint-hearted.
The Aeronauts (2019)
The Aeronauts sees Redmayne reunited with Felicity Jones, whom he starred alongside in The Theory of Everything, in a 19th century drama loosely based on a true story. James Glaisher (Redmayne) is a meteorologist who wishes to go up in a hot air balloon to study the weather and atmosphere. He is accompanied by Amelia Wren (Jones), the fictional replacement for real-life aeronaut Henry Coxwell, who wants to break the record for the highest recorded flight. Redmayne plays the straight-laced scholar who becomes tempered by Amelia’s courage and vivacity. Jones and Redmayne have great chemistry and it truly brings the friendship of their characters to life. While I thought this may be a tame movie about a hot air balloon journey, the movie delves into the back-stories and motives that led to the pair taking their fateful journey. It also includes several moments that scared the life out of me, even though I don’t have a fear of heights!
My Week with Marilyn (2011)
My Week with Marilyn is based on the true story of Colin Clark (Redmayne) as he determinedly pursues a career in film production. He manages to land a job on Laurence Olivier’s production of The Prince and the Showgirl, starring Marilyn Monroe. Once Marilyn’s husband returns to the U.S., Colin and Marilyn spend a week together exploring the British countryside and they form a bond as Colin gets to know the woman behind the famous name. Redmayne perfectly portrays the naivety of Colin and the conflict he experiences as he is torn between what others tell him his relationship with the actress should be and what he wants for himself. Once again, Redmayne manages to shine amongst a star-studded cast including Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Emma Watson, and Dominic Cooper.
Tess of the D’Urbervilles (2008)
Redmayne also appears in the television mini-series Tess of the D’Urbervilles. The series tells the solemn tale of Tess Durbeyfield (Gemma Arterton) as she encounters tragedy after tragedy, based on the classic Thomas Hardy novel. Redmayne plays Tess’s love interest, Angel Clare. Angel is a son of a reverend who encounters Tess first at a May dance and later as they both work on a dairy farm. Redmayne once again flawlessly plays the dashing English gentleman. He somehow manages to make you feel sympathetic towards Angel’s point of view even as he contributes to Tess’s misfortunes and makes you want to curse at his hypocrisy.
Redmayne’s career has definitely been a diverse one, what with his start in theatre, his dalliance in modeling, and his undeniable success on screen. He charisma and personality effortlessly makes us fall in love with his characters. His past performances have only endeared us more to the lovable Newt Scamander and we can’t wait to see what he does next.
We only managed to touch on a few of our favorite projects so make sure you head over to Redmayne’s IMDb page to browse his full filmography.