This year Eddie Redmayne was crowned Best Actor at the Oscars for his leading role as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. I must state for the record how impressed I was by Eddie Redmayne with his agonizing portrayal of the world famous scientist. One critic described it as an acting master class. Until watching this film, I had never really appreciated that Hawking is such an extraordinary man, and not just because of his scientific achievements.
Stephen Hawking’s story
For the uninitiated, The Theory Of Everything is an inspirational tale of amazing resilience against overwhelming odds. It tells the true story of Hawking’s life from the beginnings of his postgraduate studies at Cambridge through to later life after his best-selling book A Brief History Of Time was published. While studying for his PhD, Hawking received the devastating news that he had been diagnosed with the debilitating terminal illness motor neuron disease. This truly appalling disease typically leads to rapid loss of all motor functions. Hawking quickly became very disabled and at the age of 21 was given two years to live.
In those bleak moments when he was first diagnosed, Hawking was in shock and lost all motivation to complete his PhD. But while he was in hospital, a boy he vaguely knew died of leukaemia in a bed opposite. In his autobiography entitled My Brief History (Bantam Press 2013), Hawking writes: “Whenever I feel inclined to be sorry for myself, I remember that boy.” Spurred on by a renewed zest for life, he also developed a love interest and became engaged to Jane Wilde. Together they developed a determination not to let his difficult circumstances prevent him from completing his studies.
Overcome the tragedy
They kept looking for different ways to overcome his worsening disability so that he could achieve his goal. Aided and abetted by developments in technology, Hawking has been able to not only survive way beyond his predicted life expectancy, but also transform himself into an internationally renowned expert in his field, accidentally acquiring cult celebrity status along the way.
What I found so challenging about this story is that Hawking did not let his circumstances dictate everything about his life, but kept looking for ways to circumvent the major obstacles that were presented to him. So when you feel like giving up because everything is stacking against you, why don’t you give yourself a two-hour break and watch this thought-provoking and wellacted film? And if you can’t get to see the film, take a trip to your local library to borrow Hawking’s autobiography – described by the Daily Mail as “worth reading for its message of hope”. You too should experience a dose of Hawking motivation