Watching Eddie Redmayne win his Oscar, it was clear that the shock he felt in the moment was genuine.
At the 87th Oscars, Redmayne, then 33, won Best Actor for his performance as renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking in the period biopic, The Theory of Everything. Set at the University of Cambridge in the 1960s, the drama recounts the story of Hawking's life: His diagnosis with the rare neurological disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); his love story with Jane Hawking (played by Felicity Jones); and his groundbreaking achievements despite the odds.
"I don't think I'm capable of articulating quite how I feel right now. Please know this, I am fully aware that I am a lucky, lucky man," Redmayne said onstage. He dedicated his Oscar win to those around the world battling ALS and to the Hawking family. Holding his statuette aloft, he vowed, "I will look after him. I will polish him. I will answer his beck and call. I will wait on him hand and foot."
In "Behind the Oscars Speech" series, Redmayne remembers the moment that presenter Cate Blanchett opened the envelope and read off his name. "I couldn't quite believe she had said my name," he says now, eight years later. "The excitement was overwhelming and real, and I looked like and behaved like a sort of excitable puppy."
At the time of the Oscars, the actor was in London shooting his next film, The Danish Girl. (For which Redmayne would ultimately earn his second Oscar nomination.) "Tom Hooper, our director, had let me have a day off to fly to L.A.," he recalls. Redmayne arrived the day before the ceremony. "And the whole thing felt like a bit of a whirlwind."
Best Actor in a Leading Role was the antepenultimate award of the night, with Redmayne nominated alongside Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), and Michael Keaton (Birdman).
"Being an actor is one of those things that involves a massive amount of luck. It involves skill, tenacity, hard work, highs, lows, but it also involves a lot of luck," Redmayne says. "I wouldn't say winning an Oscar was a dream, because... I never deemed it possible in my mind to even dream that big. So, luck was a massive, huge part of it."
After thanking Stephen, Jane and the Hawking children (who, he says, "were thrilled" for him) and the "extraordinary troop of people" he worked with on the film, he pointed to his wife, Hannah Bagshawe, sitting in the audience.
"We have a new fella coming to share our apartment!" he exclaimed.
For the record, Redmayne says he lived up to that promise he made onstage all those years ago. "He's looking pretty fresh," the actor says. "He's still looking shiny. It sits there and it doesn’t feel real. The thing about the Oscars is they're so shiny — it feels surreal to see it."