Eddie Redmayne, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in the biopic The Theory of Everything, paid tribute to the brilliant physicist and bestselling author who passed away on Monday.
“We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet,” he said in a statement. “My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family.”
A spokesperson for the family told NBC News that Hawking “died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of this morning. His family has kindly requested that they are given the time and privacy to mourn his passing, but they would like to thank everyone who has been by Professor Hawking’s side—and supported him—throughout his life.” Hawking suffered Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) since age 21 up to his death.
The writer and producer of the Oscar-nominated movie about Hawking’s life, Anthony McCarten, also released a statement to ET. “Stephen Hawking’s life was devoted to wondering and to wonder,” he began. “He was a molecular miracle, both physically and intellectually, and it was one of the great honors of my life to have met him, spent some time with him, and been his cinematic biographer. I will always remember his reaction to his first viewing of The Theory of Everything. As the lights rose in the private theater, his nurse wiped a tear from his cheek and he began to type — a laborious process for him — his verdict: ‘Broadly true.'”
“His place in history is assured, for his pioneering work on understanding black holes and the early universe, but I will remember him for his bravery, his wit, and the object lesson he delivered every day, that life is what you make it. Travel well Steve, to your rightful place among the stars. I trust that in death you have fulfilled your life’s ambition, to know the mind of God,” McCarten concluded.
Redmayne recalled the memorable experience of meeting the famous scientist for the first time.
“I spent half an hour telling him about himself,” he shared. “It takes him a while to speak, so there were lots of pauses and silences. It got so bad that I was filling the air reminding him that he was born on the 8th of January, which is Galileo’s birthday. And I said I was actually born on the 6th of January, so we’re both Capricorns. When the world ‘Capricorn’ came out of my mouth, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so horrific in my life.”
Redmayne said that Hawking clarified this piece of information saying, ‘I’m an astronomer not an astrologer.'”
The 36-year old British actor gave Hawking a special recognition during his acceptance speech at the 2015 Academy Awards. “Um, this Oscar…This belongs to all of those people around the world battling ALS. It belongs to one exceptional family, Stephen, Jane, Jonathan and the Hawking children,” he said. “And I will be its custodian and I will promise you I will look after him. I will polish him. I will answer his beck and call and I will wait on him hand and foot.”
Hawking sent his congratulatory message to Redmayne after he won the Best Actor award. “Congratulations to Eddie Redmayne for winning an #Oscar for playing me in The Theory of Everything movie,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “Well done Eddie, I’m very proud of you.”