When he was nine years old, maybe 10, a small, freckly, flame-haired Eddie Redmayne auditioned to be in the West End production of the Irving Berlin musical Annie Get Your Gun. Acting was a new thing for him and before the casting call he found himself dreaming – both figuratively and literally – about winning a part. He’d be in the West End! He’d get to wag school! But then, on the day, a reality dawned somewhat murkier. Around 700 children turned up. Many wore Sylvia Young Theatre School T-shirts, and danced and sang precociously behind the scenes. Each child was given a tag, walked on stage and either sang or spoke a single line. When everyone was done, a list of names was called.
“It was a meat market for children,” Redmayne recalls, wide-eyed. “It almost felt like a forerunner for The X Factor or something. So I sang my one line and was promptly sent home.” He giggles, fidgets: “I remember it being properly scarring!”
The story is 25 years old, but the memory is vivid. Redmayne, now 34, brings it up when I ask him if he expected, on the night itself, to win the 2015 Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. “I had let my mind fantasise before and it was cut so bluntly short,” he explains. “I’ve never actually spoken about it, but I wonder if, over years of doing auditions, I’ve stopped myself allowing to believe the dream.
“Even in the run-up to the Oscars” – he whispers those last two words like he’s faintly embarrassed to be overheard – “it’s a horse race, and I knew I was in the running, but I’d not allowed myself to believe that it could happen. And also I thought Michael Keaton was formidable and I loved that film [Birdman].” Read More