With the release of the first film in the new wizarding world cannon, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne starts his quest into the world of magic, sorcery, and franchising. With his first feature film credit only a bit more than a decade ago, Third Act Film wants to dissect, commend, and highlight the rapid and extraordinary acting career that Redmayne has made for himself.
Born in London, Redmayne underwent his thespian start by performing in stage shows around London. His first performance in the theatre was actually under esteemed director Sam Mendes’ (Away We Go, Jarhead, Skyfall) adaptation of “Oliver”. After a few more flirts with the stage, Redmayne decided to pursue his career in film and television.
Television is a medium Redmayne has trifled with four times: three mini-series and one episodic show. His first was a mini-series where he played alongside Helen Mirren (The Queen, Eye in the Sky) as she starred as the title character, Elizabeth I. His next mini-series was a BBC production of Tess of the D’urbervilles, where he acted alongside the underrated Gemma Arterton (Clash of the Titans, Prince of Persia). An unsuccessful run at a show on Starz! was The Pillars of the Earth, a period piece where Redmayne shared the screen with actors such as Ian McShane (John Wick, Hercules) and Hayley Atwell (Captain America: The First Avenger, Agent Carter). Finally, in 2011 starred in the two-episode war mini-series, Birdsong.
The 34-year-old actor started his film career with a few small supporting roles in immensely independent films. Between 2006 and 2010 Redmayne had supporting roles in a plethora of good yet forgettable films. His second feature film debut came at the hands of the Robert De Niro-directed CIA thriller, The Good Sheppard. After that, a year later we see him share the screen with one of the greatest actresses of our time, Cate Blanchett, in her sequel and Redmayne’s second project about a British Monarch, Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Before finally making his way to stardom, his last supporting role came in the form of a star-studded flop, The Other Boleyn Girl. This picture starred Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, Eric Bana, Mark Rylance, and Benedict Cumberbatch. Despite all these films missing the mark of success, Eddie’s future was looking bright and fruitful.
2011 was the year when our man, at the young age of 29, got his first leading role. My Week with Marilyn had Redmayne starring as a young assistant who is tasked with helping Marilyn Monroe, played by Michelle Williams (Blue Velvet, Brokeback Mountain) as she stars in one of her last films. The film was heavily awarded, unfortunately, Williams as well as co-star, Kenneth Branagh (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Valkyrie), received most of the accolades.
Director Tom Hooper, coming off his The King’s Speech best picture win decided to bring the coveted opera, Les Misérables, to the big screen and to a wide audience. The result was a successful film, with eight Oscar nominations and box office triumph ($149 million domestically). Redmayne accompanied one of the greatest ensemble casts ever gathered: Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, Samantha Barks, and Helena Bonham Carter. Though a small role, Redmayne not only solidified his place as a competitive actor but also proved he could sing as well.
Hollywood decided that Redmayne could finally helm his own film as the main actor, and thus we got the Stephen Hawking romantic biopic, The Theory of Everything. Paired against one of the most exciting up and coming actresses, Felicity Jones (True Story, Rogue One), the film not only compelled audiences, but also the academy with being nominated for two top acting awards as well as best picture. Beating out heavyweights Steve Carell (Foxtrot), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Michael Keaton (Birdman: Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), and Bradley Cooper (American Sniper). Redmayne took home the golden statue, to the surprise of everyone and himself. Unfortunately, his next film, Jupiter Ascending, directed by the Wachowski siblings, was regarded as one of the worst films of late, an ill-fated blemish on Redmayne’s near spotless five-year stretch.
Reteaming with director Tom Hooper, Redmayne starred in The Danish Girl, a transformative performance that had him playing a transgender woman. Nominated again for the Oscar, though losing to Leo DiCaprio (The Revenant), his co-star, Alicia Vikander (A Light Between Oceans, Ex Machina), my favourite working actress, was able to deservedly take home the Academy Award. An undoubtedly incredible film, The Danish Girl wasn’t able to achieve the success many assumed it would have.
Redmayne’s acting future looks just as successful as the past half-decade for him. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens on the 18th of November and is slated to have four sequels to follow. Also, a drama about the feud between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, The Last Days of Night, is slated for 2018 with Redmayne Starring and Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game, Passengers) directing.
Regardless of the roles offered, it is undeniable that Redmayne will be a name spoken many years to come. Already proving himself such a threat with such a minimal filmography, I can wholeheartedly say that I see this young man being the Al Pacino of the 2010’s.
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