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Eddie Redmayne portrays a young Stephen Hawking before his diagnosis with motor neuron disease. (Working Title Films)

At the Toronto International Film Festival British actor Eddie Redmayne  (Les Misérables) has been winning some very strong reviews for playing Stephen Hawking in the handsomely crafted biopic The Theory of Everything.

He’s very convincing in portraying Hawking as a man battling an illness – the physicist was diagnosed with motor neuron disease at the age of 21. The film isn’t a straightforward disability drama – it’s an exploration of the relationship between Hawking and his wife Jane (played by Felicity Jones) and how they each forged intimate relationships with others.

The film comes from the British director James Marsh – who won an Oscar for his documentary Man on Wire. The production has much that is commendable but given Marsh’s prodigious talents it would have been nice to have seen more of his trademark panache on display in this biopic.

For Redmayne what’s important is the inspirational way in which the physicist he depicts has lived his life. He says “to live life fully” is what can be learned by observing Hawking’s story.

We caught up with Redmayne at TIFF:

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The Theory of Everything will be released to U.S. audiences on November 7.

Do you think it’s difficult to take on a biopic of someone who is living?

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By Tom Brook