James Marsh

Director was thrilled with casting choices for the biopic of the renowned physicist

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING directed by James Marsh, written by Anthony McCarten based on the book by Jane Hawking, with Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox and Emily Watson. An eOne release. 123 minutes. Opens Friday (November 7). For venues and times, see Movies.

It’s the day after The Theory Of Everything’s world premiere at TIFF, and James Marsh is very happy with the way the screening went.

“Post-production kind of exhausts your interest in a subject,” he says of his Stephen Hawking biopic, “but you don’t really finish it until you see it with an audience.”

The director – whose credits include the documentaries Man On Wire and Project Nim – is especially pleased that the Toronto audience responded to his actors the same way he did. Marsh can’t say enough good things about Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, who play the world-renowned physicist and his wife, Jane, from their college years to middle age.

“Once I’d met Eddie, I knew,” he says. “He was so on fire for the role, and also so smart to realize how much commitment he needed to do this. There’s months and months of boring, repetitive preparation. You need to train like an athlete. We both had a lot of anxiety about the film – could we make it work? could he pull off this physical performance? – and I knew that he could. I totally believed that he could.”

As for Jones, Marsh says he’d been looking to work with her since seeing her breakout performance in Like Crazy.

“I saw it and thought, ‘She’s really amazing, and she’s British!’” he laughs. “We had this scrappy little audition that I filmed. They were great choices. The only choices, really.”

Also happy with the choices: the real Stephen Hawking, to whom Marsh showed the film a few weeks earlier.

“His main reaction was surprise that it’s not just awful,” Marsh says with a chuckle. “In a British sort of idiom, that’s pretty good praise.”

Interview Clips

Marsh on doing justice to Stephen Hawking’s sense of humour:

Marsh on the irony of directing Man On Wire while suffering a terror of heights

normw@nowtoronto.com | @normwilner

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