Eddie Redmayne began his career as a working actor on the stage, before making his film debut in the 2006 psychological thriller Like Minds, and the Robert De Niro-directed The Good Shepherd that same year. Cut to 10 years later, and he'd won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in 2014's The Theory of Everything, and earned another Best Actor nomination the following year for The Danish Girl.
"There is so much adrenaline coursing through your body that night that weirdly, a lot of it's impossible to remember," Redmayne recalls of winning his Oscar. "But my overwhelming memory was right at the end of the night — so, into the morning I suppose; I was staying at The Sunset Tower Hotel and a handful of friends came back to the room with me and my wife. It was the first time that I was surrounded by a cocoon of people I knew and loved, and there was a moment as the sun was rising over Sunset Boulevard where it momentarily sank in. And, as a British actor, having for years come over to LA and lived all those clichés of auditioning, it felt like there was a romance to Los Angeles that was fully fulfilled in that moment."
The years since have seen him play such disparate roles as a magizoologist (the Fantastic Beasts franchise), a meteorologist (The Aeronauts), and a member of the Chicago Seven (The Trial of the Chicago 7). Redmayne's latest sees him embody a real-life serial killer, Charlie Cullen, in director Tobias Lindholm's The Good Nurse.
"The Good Nurse was not a part that I necessarily would've felt that I was born to play — America's most prolific serial killer — but Tobias saw something in me, and I'm thrilled he did," the actor says. "That was a bit of a question mark to the people around me and, to be honest, a lot of them haven't seen the movie yet. So, we'll see how I fared!"
His versatility as a leading man is a reflection of the movies that have inspired and emboldened Redmayne throughout his career. Below, he shares with A.frame five of the films that made him the actor he is today.
Directed by: George Stevens | Written by: Fred Guiol and Ivan Moffat
Giant blew my mind. I watched it maybe five, six years ago, and the scale of it combined with the intimacy of it, I thought was astonishing. It was a moment when I was wanting to watch all of James Dean's films in one go — not in one sitting, but over a few days. And I thought that, as an actor, his physicality was completely astonishing. There is that scene where Dean is pacing out the first land that he's owned, and it was something about the silhouette, and the particular rhythm, and getting a full sense of the entirety of his body, and how much was communicated through that stays with me.
Directed by: Bob Fosse | Written by: Jay Presson Allen
That opening shot with Joel Grey [as the Master of Ceremonies], that's an image that is etched onto my retina. Everything about it just took me somewhere that I had never experienced — the mood of the piece, the overwhelming corruption of it, the specificity of the choreography. The way that, through the quick cuts of moments with Joel and Liza Minnelli, you got entire relationships that felt embedded and sketched. And, of course, the music blew my mind. In fact, so much so that Cabaret really was the piece that catalyzed me into being an actor.
[Redmayne returned to the stage to star in the London revival of 'Cabaret,' playing the Master of Ceremonies opposite Jessie Buckley's Sally Bowles. The production swept this year's Laurence Olivier Awards.]
I don't have many dreams, but it was a life dream. There was a moment on the opening night in London, I'd been sent some flowers, but I hadn't been able to open the cards from the flowers. And, halfway through the opening night show, I opened a card and it was from Joel Grey. And I treasure that. His performance in Cabaret remains for me one of the great master classes.
Directed by: Jacques Audiard | Written by: Jacques Audiard and Tonino Benacquista
The Beat That My Heart Skipped manages to evoke something that is so specific that I had in your head perhaps all my life, but perhaps never even articulated to myself. And then, you see it articulated on-screen and it shocks you with the reminder of humanity. There's a moment when Romain Duris, who gives a tour de force in this film, he's a concert pianist and he's practicing the piano. He's sitting at the piano, there's no one there, and he's about to play a tricky passage. There's a moment before his hand goes down, it's hovering over the keys and you see the tension of nerves in his fingers. It was an experience that I had felt so specifically; that thing where you are rehearsing something by yourself, there's no one to feel embarrassed or to make a fool of, and yet that tension of nerves can still hit you. I thought that it was an insight into the power of film in a very intimate moment.
Directed by: Paweł Pawlikowski | Written by: Paweł Pawlikowski and Michael Wynne
My Summer of Love is a film that I saw very early on when I was starting acting professionally. It's the intimacy of this relationship between Natalie Press and Emily Blunt, with a dumbfounding performance by Paddy Considine. I went in not having read anything, and it stunned and shocked me and seduced me. And it has one of the great soundtracks by Goldfrapp. It was a moment when I went straight out and started watching all of Pawel's work. There was something so unplaceable about it, but completely unique. It still haunts me, that film.
Directed by: Wolfgang Reitherman | Written by: Larry Clemmons, Ken Anderson, Vance Gerry, Frank Thomas, Eric Cleworth, Julius Svendsen, David Michener
Robin Hood was the film of my childhood. Now, it's the one I go back to with my kids. But also, sometimes the skill of voice acting can be underestimated, and I think that the work that Peter Ustinov [as Prince John] does in this is one of the great vocal performances, alongside an actor called Terry-Thomas who plays Sir Hiss. I could pretty much deliver every line of that movie. When you have kids that there are those few movies that you are desperate for your children to love as much as you do, and fortunately, they do.