10 Surprising Facts About Eddie Redmayne

Miikka Skaffari, Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize
Miikka Skaffari, Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize

With his immense talent and considerable charm, it didn’t take long for Eddie Redmayne to make the leap from up-and-coming teen actor with a couple of TV roles on his resume to Academy Award winner.

Three years after his breakout role in 2012’s Les Misérables, Redmayne won the Best Actor Oscar for his brilliant portrayal of the late Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything (and earned a second nomination the following year for The Danish Girl). Adding to his fame, Redmayne then joined the Harry Potter franchise, starring as Newt Scamander in 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

As Redmayne prepares to reprise the magical role for the Fantastic Beasts sequel, The Crimes of Grindelwald, we’ve gathered up some surprising facts about the 36-year-old actor.

1. HE WAS CLASSMATES WITH PRINCE WILLIAM.

The actor has revealed that while in school at Eton College, he was classmates with Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. The two were even elected for The Eton Society, an elite group at the school, and played rugby together. “He’s a wonderful man,” Redmayne told Glamour. “I always felt slightly sorry for him because everyone wanted to tackle the future king of England. He took all the hits.”

Other famous schoolmates of Redmayne at Eton were Avengers actor Tom Hiddleston and William’s younger brother, Prince Harry.

2. HE IS COLORBLIND (SORT OF).

Actor Eddie Redmayne takes part in SiriusXM's Town Hall with the cast of 'Fantastic Beasts:The Crimes Of Grindelwald' on Entertainment Weekly Radio hosted by Jess Cagle at the SiriusXM Studio on November 5, 2018 in New York City
Cindy Ord, Getty Images for SiriusXM

Redmayne has been very open about being slightly colorblind, something his wife Hannah Bagshawe helps him out with when it comes to fashion.

“I almost feel like a bit of a fraud when I say I’m colorblind, because I see in color,” Redmayne explained to GQ. “[I have problems when], for example, I’m shooting a scene, and you have to hit a mark on the floor, and it’s a red marker on green grass. With my peripheral vision I haven’t got a chance. If I look down I can see the difference between the red and the green, but I don’t know how to explain it to people.”

3. HE FIRST REALIZED HE WAS FAMOUS WHEN HE WAS ON A PLANE ... SLEEPING.

Like most actors, Redmayne first realized his level of fame when he was recognized off the set. But when it happened for him, he was sleeping … and on a plane. He once explained that after he awoke during a flight, the passenger sitting next to him asked if he was important, because the flight attendants were watching him sleep.

4. HE WAS EMBARRASSED OF HIS FRECKLES UNTIL HE MET JULIANNE MOORE.

With countless freckles all over his face, Redmayne was admittedly embarrassed by them growing up ... then he auditioned for the role of Julianne Moore’s son in 2007’s Savage Grace. Redmayne told Conan O’Brien that Moore walked in and knew he had to be cast just on appearance alone. (He was.)

5. HE LIED ABOUT HIS HORSEBACK RIDING EXPERIENCE TO LAND A ROLE.

During auditions for the TV miniseries Elizabeth I, Redmayne gave director Tom Hooper the impression that he was an expert horseback rider. Unfortunately, he was lying—and when it came down to actually performing the task, it was more than obvious he had never been on a horse.

“I almost killed myself, almost killed half of the crew,” Redmayne told Conan O’Brien, explaining how Hooper then promptly got on the loudspeaker to yell, “You’re a f***ing liar, Redmayne!”

6. STEPHEN HAWKING PRAISED HIS PERFORMANCE IN THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING.

Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything (2014)
Liam Daniel, Universal Pictures

When Redmayne portrayed Stephen Hawking for The Theory of Everything, even Hawking was impressed. In addition to sharing his praise for the actor on his Facebook page, the film’s director James Marsh shared how intense the famed physicist’s reaction to the movie truly was. “He emailed us, and said there were certain points when he thought he was watching himself,” Marsh told Variety.

7. HE BECAME THE FIRST MAN BORN IN THE 1980S TO WIN AN OSCAR IN ACTING.

For his portrayal of Hawking, Redmayne became the first man born in the 1980s to win an Academy Award for acting. He is also one of 17 actors who have won Oscars for portraying real-life people while they were alive. (Hawking passed away three years after Redmayne’s win.)

8. HIS AUDITION FOR STARS WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS WAS A BIT OF A DISASTER.

Eddie Redmayne speaks onstage at the Warner Bros. theatrical panel during Comic-Con International 2018 at San Diego Convention Center on July 21, 2018 in San Diego, California
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Before he became a part of the world of Harry Potter, Redmayne auditioned to become a part of the Star Wars galaxy. He auditioned for the role of Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens, but Redmayne said the production was so secretive that he really had no idea who the character was or how he fit into the story. To compensate, he tried doing a Darth Vader imitation. It did not go well.

“My Star Wars audition was pretty catastrophically bad,” he admitted in 2014. “There’s this wonderful casting director called Nina Gold, who I absolutely love. I went in and did this scene and after seven times of trying to play a baddie [Gold] was like, ‘Got anything else, Eddie?’ I said, ‘Okay, that’s a childhood dream crushed.'"

9. HE AUDITIONED FOR THE ROLE OF TOM RIDDLE IN HARRY POTTER.

Years before scoring the lead role in Fantastic Beasts, Redmayne auditioned for the original Harry Potter series. “I actually auditioned to play Tom Riddle when I was back at university,” Redmayne told Empire. “I properly failed and didn’t get a call back. Over the years I always hoped I might be cast as a member of the Weasley family, but unfortunately not."

10. HE WAS THE FIRST AND ONLY CHOICE FOR FANTASTIC BEASTS.

Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston in 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald' (2018)
Jaap Buitendijk, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Though Redmayne didn't land the part of Riddle, that failed audition got his foot in the door of the Harry Potter universe. When it came time to cast Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts, producer David Heyman immediately thought of Redmayne.

"From the outset, Eddie Redmayne was our first and only choice,” Heyman told The Telegraph. “Not only does he look as if he lives in 1926, but he has all the elements required to be Newt: he’s smart, funny, utterly British, and immensely sympathetic—even as an outsider more comfortable with his beasts than with people."

'143,' Fred Rogers's Code for "I Love You," Gets Its Own Holiday in Pennsylvania

Family Communications Inc./Getty Images
Family Communications Inc./Getty Images

"It takes one letter to say I and four letters to say love and three letters to say you. One hundred and forty-three."

That quote from Fred Rogers has become a symbol of the children's entertainer's legacy. The number 143, his special code for "I love you," is used by a charity inspired by Rogers, and it was spotlighted in the recent documentary movie Won't You Be My Neighbor? Now, Mister Rogers's favorite number has its own holiday in Pennsylvania.

As Philly Voice reports, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf declared May 23 to be 143 Day in the state. Rogers was born in Westmoreland County near Pittsburgh and he spent his whole life in the area. By honoring the famous Pennsylvanian with his own holiday, the organizers behind the statewide 143 Day campaign hope to inspire residents to be kind to their neighbors on May 23 and every day of the year.

The initiative encourages schools, businesses, and citizens to share their acts of kindness on social media with the hashtag #143DayinPA. A "kindness tracker" on the campaign's website keeps how many time the hashtag has been used, and so far, over a 6000 acts of kindness have been shared online. And if someone has trouble thinking of ways to honor the spirit of Mister Rogers, the campaign's "kindness generator" can come up with a suggestion for them.

One hundred and forty-three was more than just a fun saying for Fred Rogers: It was a lucky number he made part of his lifestyle. The television personality even went so far as to go swimming every day to maintain his weight at the number.

[h/t Philly Voice]

10 Bizarre Documentaries That Are Stranger Than Fiction

A still from Abducted in Plain Sight
A still from Abducted in Plain Sight
Top Knot Films

Documentaries have grown considerably more ambitious since Fred Ott’s Sneeze, an 1894 clip that documents the irritated sinus cavities of its subject in just five seconds. They can inspire, as in the case of 2019’s Academy Award-winning Free Solo, about bold mountain climber Alex Honnold. They can shine a light on cultural overachievers like Fred Rogers, the subject of 2018’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? And they can parse political history, with films like 2003's The Fog of War shedding light on decisions that shaped the world.

Other documentaries set out to chronicle true stories that, were they presented as a fictitious, might be hard for people to believe. We’ve profiled such films in previous lists, which you can find here, here, and here. If you’ve already made your way through those tales of cannibals, tragic love affairs, and twist-laden true crime, here are 10 more that will have you staring at your television in disbelief.  

1. Abducted in Plain Sight (2017)

When Idaho native Jan Broberg was 12 years old in 1974, her neighbor began to take an unseemly and inappropriate interest in her. What begins as a disturbing portrait of predation quickly spirals into an unbelievable and audacious attempt to manipulate Jan’s entire family. Director Skye Borgman’s portrait of seemingly reasonable people who become ensnared in a monstrous plot to separate them from their daughter has drawn some shocking reactions since it began streaming on Netflix earlier this year.

2. The Wolfpack (2015)

Confined to their apartment in a Manhattan housing project for years by parents wary of the world outside their door, the seven Angulo siblings developed an understanding about life through movies. The Wolfpack depicts their attempts to cope with reality after finally emerging from their involuntary exile. Hulu subscribers can watch it now.

3. Three Identical Strangers (2018)

The highly marketable conceit of director Tim Wardle’s documentary is that triplets born in 1961 then separated spent the first 18 years of their lives totally ignorant of their siblings. When they reconnect, it’s a joy. But the movie quickly switches gears to explore the question of why they were separated at birth to begin with. It’s that investigation—and the chilling answer—that lends Three Identical Strangers its bittersweet, haunting atmosphere. It’s currently on Hulu.

4. Tickled (2016)

A ball of yarn bouncing down a flight of stairs is the best metaphor we can summon for the narrative of Tickled, which follows New Zealand journalist David Farrier on what appears at first glance to be a silly story about the world of “competitive endurance tickling.” In the course of reporting on this unusual subculture, Farrier crosses paths with people who would prefer their hobbies remain discreet. When he refuses to let the story go, things grow increasingly tense and dangerous. HBO subscribers can see the film, and it’s also available as a $3.99 rental on Amazon Prime.

5. Billboard Boys (2018)

In 1982, an Allentown, Pennsylvania radio station sponsored a contest in which three men agreed to live underneath a billboard. The last man remaining would win a brand-new motor home, a considerable incentive in the economically-struggling area. Three contestants went up, but things didn't go as planned. It's available for free to Amazon Prime members.

6. Hands on a Hardbody: The Documentary (1997)

How far would you be willing to go for a new pick-up truck? That’s the deceptively simple premise for this documentary chronicling an endurance contest in Longview, Texas, where participants agree to keep one hand on the vehicle at all times: The last person standing wins. What begins as a group seeking a prize evolves into a battle of attrition, with all the psychological games and mental fortitude that comes with it. The film can be hard to find, but you can watch the first nine minutes on YouTube for free (above) and then catch the rest for $9.99 on iTunes.

7. My Kid Could Paint That (2007)

At the age of 4, upstate New York resident Marla Olmstead began painting sprawling abstract art that her parents sold for premium prices. Later on, a 60 Minutes report called into question whether Marla had some assistance with her work. Was she a child prodigy, or simply a creative girl who had a little help? And if she did, should it matter? My Kid Could Paint That investigates Marla’s process, but it also sheds light on the world of abstract art and the question of who gets to decide whether a creative impulse is valid. You can rent the film for $3.99 on Amazon.

8. Beware the Slenderman (2016)

In 2014, two Wisconsin girls came to a disturbing decision: In order to appease the “Slenderman,” an internet-sourced boogeyman, they would attempt to murder a classmate. The victim survived, but three lives have been altered forever. Beware the Slenderman explores the intersection where mental illness, social media, and urban mythology collide to result in a horrific crime. It’s available to HBO viewers or as a rental on Amazon for $3.99.

9. The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer (1992)

For years, Richard Kuklinski satisfied his homicidal urges by taking on contract killings for organized crime families in New York and New Jersey. Following his arrest and conviction, he agreed to sit down and elaborate on his unusual methodologies for disposing of victims and how he balanced his violent tendencies with a seemingly normal domestic life that included marriage and children. (You can see an example of Kuklinski's chilling disposition in the clip above.) In addition to The Iceman Tapes, which originally aired on HBO, Kuklinski participated in two follow-ups: The Iceman Confesses: Secrets of a Mafia Hitman in 2001 and The Iceman and the Psychiatrist in 2003. See them on HBO or watch the original and both follow-ups for free on Amazon Prime.

10. Tabloid (2010)

Filmmaker Errol Morris (The Fog of War) details the unusual love affair between beauty queen Joyce McKinney and Kirk Anderson, who alleged McKinney kidnapped and assaulted him after believing he had been brainwashed by the Mormon church. That’s only the beginning of this twisty—and twisted—story, which illustrates how people can perceive the same event in completely different ways. It’s currently streaming on Hulu.

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