“As an actor, you never go, ‘Oh, I need to do this.’ You ask yourself, ‘Is this story worth telling? Does it hit me?'” – Eddie Redmayne
Perhaps Eddie Redmayne was the most surprised person in the Dolby Theatre when he was awarded the Best Actor Oscar earlier this year over standout performances by Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Keaton. Everyone else knew that Redmayne’s stellar performance in The Theory of Everything was more than Oscar-worthy. On top of that, it’s expected that Redmayne will be nominated again for his performance as a transgender woman in The Danish Girl. Over breakfast with a reporter for Details, Redmayne spoke about how he plans to avoid the post-Oscar slump suffered by many actors, what he loves about Broadway, and an important piece of advice he received from Alfred Molina.
Redmayne admits that his acquaintances have questioned his decision to do such another physically transformative role so soon after The Theory of Everything. He says, “Quite a few people have said, ‘You did Stephen Hawking, a physical transformation, and now you’re doing another one.’ But as an actor, you never go, ‘Oh, I need to do this.’ You ask yourself, ‘Is this story worth telling? Does it hit me?'”
Perhaps the reason why Redmayne took on such a challenging role in The Danish Girl so soon after the last one is to avoid falling off his early career peak too quickly. He recalls, “I had a moment of, ‘Oh f—, I might retire tomorrow. I’m never going to do anything again.’ The thought that it happened too early came in for a second. But then I thought, No, I want this.” Later, he comments on how much effort he engages in in order to prepare for such challenging roles. He reveals, “It’s not as if I have got talent enough to not work hard with it. With Theory, I was so scared by it that it forced me to step up and request the things I needed—vocal coaches, movement coaches, specialists. I had four months to prepare. For The Danish Girl I had three years.”
Of course, Redmayne is also enjoying the big budget spoils of being a hot name in Hollywood. He is currently working on the Harry Potter prequel trilogy Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It has marked a shift from his usually modest-budget projects. He explains, “My last two films were eight-week shoots. We’ve done nine on this one and have barely scratched the surface. It’s about pacing yourself in a different way.”
The long commitment reminds Redmayne of his background in theater. Despite his London origins, he confesses that despite being a London native he is more nostalgic for his time on Broadway than in the West End. He says, “What I love about Broadway is that you have all the theaters backing into each other, so the sense of community is stronger than in the West End. When I was doing Red there, you’d have Alfred Molina playing Rothko, the Phantom of the Opera was outside having a cigarette, there’s Lucy Liu . . .”
In fact, Redmayne recalls one of the best pieces of advice he received was from Molina. Redmayne remembers, “He told me the worst thing an actor can do is show his homework. You do all of the work in order for it not to be visible. That’s what I hoped for.”