How Eddie Redmayne’s body coped playing Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything

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In his numerous interviews Eddie Redmayne, actor, mentions that he was constantly assisted by both a choreographer and an osteopath to play the role of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, a 2014 British biographical romantic drama film directed by James Marsh.

Eddie Redmayne: “When I hired the choreographer, I told her I wanted to spend enough time in these positions that my body started relaxing in them. She suggested that I see an osteopath. This osteopath basically mapped my body during rehearsal, every two days, and it was amazing. She said the shape of your body starts changing, especially by being in the position that Stephen is in, which specialists call “windswept,” this sort of S-shaped thing. But also my face was affected because Stephen speaks out of the side of his face a lot.” (http://deadline.com/2014/12/eddie-redmayne-discusses-his-career-making-performance-in-the-theory-of-everything-1201286456/)

We asked Melbourne based osteopath Bill Adamson about how manual treatments and osteopathic techniques can be beneficial for an actor who is working on such a demanding and complex role.

“We each have our own individual postures. And our bodies get used to these postures and find them comfortable. As anyone that has tried to change their posture can attest to holding a different posture is painful. This happens because muscles are used to being at a certain length and tension, if you make them act in a different way, they aren’t used to it, get tired and then start to get sore. Joints are similar, if they are compressed or stretched for too long they will also get a bit irritated and then become sore.”

“Holding Hawking’ posture would have very physically taxing for Eddie Redmayne.”

“Try it yourself. Sit in a chair, lean yourself to the left so your sternum is to the left of your left thigh, then tilt your head back to the right such that your eyes are level. How’s your right low back feel? How’s your neck feel?”

“I imagine Redmayne’s Osteopath would have compared Redmayne’s ‘normal’ posture to the posture he was being required to hold. The Osteopath would identify which muscles Redmayne would have to contract to hold himself in Hawking’s posture as well as which joints would be compressed because of it.”

“Osteopaths are very effective at looking at the big picture of an individual’s pain and discomfort. In a perfect world we would identify the causative factors in an individual’s pain pattern and ameliorate, or ideally, remove them. However, in Eddie’s case the causative factor was his acting, and there is no way we can tell an actor playing Stephen Hawking to sit up straight and keep moving around. This is why it is a great idea to have Osteopathic treatment at the end of each day’s shoot.”

“Osteopaths excel at difficult cases, for any profession that is required to hold different positions or move in a difficult manner osteopaths can help. Cyclists, circuses and dance troupes for example have a long history of utilising the skills of osteopaths.”

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