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The actor has dreamt for years of bringing the Kit Kat Club to the stage — he talks latex, tights and first night nerves with co-star Jessie Buckley
Eddie Redmayne has a dilemma. His children, aged three and five, are desperate to come and see him on stage in a new production of Cabaret. He has been playing the music nonstop at home and they’ve even learnt the moves to the song Money Makes the World Go Round. “They enjoyed Frozen, so they think it’s going to be like that,” he says, chuckling “Their favourite number is Don’t Tell Mama, but they have no idea what it’s about.” The jaunty tunes belie the fact Cabaret is probably one of the darkest musicals ever written. Set in Weimar Germany as the Nazis begin their ascent to power, there’s violence, antisemitism and the leading lady, Sally Bowles —who can’t tell her Mama she’s appearing on stage in her underwear — has an abortion. It’s not one for the kids.
It’s 11 years since Redmayne last appeared on stage. But it isn’t the first time the Oscar-winning actor has played the role of the androgynous ringmaster in Cabaret. Aged 17 he was cast as the Emcee in a school production at Eton that was later taken to the Edinburgh Fringe. He remembers “running up the Royal Mile in latex and tights handing out leaflets for the show”. It was in a brand-new venue, the Underbelly, set up by two fellow Old Etonians, Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood. Back then it consisted of a few cramped, damp, beer-stained performance spaces frequented by aspiring comics and student musicals. Now the Underbelly is a successful production company that hosts festivals in London and Edinburgh. Redmayne’s early performance must have made an impression on the two producers because many years later they contacted him to see if he fancied doing Cabaret again. The answer was yes.
A tentative smile spreads across Eddie Redmayne’s face. “Anxiety is something that drives me,” he says quietly. “It has for a long time. Ultimately, I think, you only live once. If it’s a catastrophe, I got to play a part that always felt unfinished in me. If I don’t do it, then perhaps I will just live with regret.”
We are sitting in the gilded splendor of Fischer’s, a restaurant specializing in Austrian food in the Marylebone area of London, discussing Redmayne’s bold decision to return to the stage as the charismatic and mysterious Emcee in Cabaret. (Redmayne was last seen onstage 10 years ago, as Shakespeare’s Richard II; before that he starred in Red, as the fictional assistant of Mark Rothko, winning a Tony.) He’s chosen the restaurant because he likes the area—only when we order schnitzel and cucumber salad does he realize what an appropriate setting it is to talk about Berlin in 1929.
When Cabaret opens in London in November, it will be the second time Redmayne has played this part. He first gave it a go at 19, in a student production at the Edinburgh Fringe festival just after he left Eton. It was staged in a grotty, run-down venue called Underbelly. “I didn’t really see daylight, and became quite skeletal, and I remember finding it thrilling.” Fast-forward 20 years and that excitement is still there. So is Underbelly, which, under the guidance of its founders, Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood, has morphed into an influential producing company that hosts festivals in London and Edinburgh and has produced hit shows. It was Bartlam who approached Redmayne to play the part again; Redmayne then asked Jessie Buckley, star of Wild Rose and Judy, whether she’d like to take on Sally Bowles, the singer whose story gives Cabaret its heart. “Jessie has this extraordinary spirit and an anarchic quality,” he says.
“It was a kind of no-brainer,” explains Buckley over Zoom from Toronto, where she has been filming Sarah Polley’s Women Talking. “I feel it’s like a blank canvas, a chance to go back to the theater and fall in love, which I haven’t done since my first job”—when she was cast in Trevor Nunn’s production of Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. Playing Sally, Buckley will be able to draw on her own experience as a young singer, fresh from Kerry in Ireland, when she worked in London’s Annabel’s nightclub. “It was so far away from where I grew up,” she says, “a world of secrets.” Buckley is an enthusiast, full of energy and commitment. “For Eddie it’s a passion project, and I was delighted he thought of me,” she says, smiling broadly.
Instead of congregating on the stage of Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium for their best-ensemble win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the cast of “The Trial of the Chicago 7” called in on Zoom.
For a video conference, they make a starry bunch. Logging in from around the world were Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Frank Langella, Mark Rylance, John Carroll Lynch, Ben Shankman and other members of Aaron Sorkin’s historical courtroom drama.
After winning the guild’s top honor, the cast spoke briefly with The Associated Press in an interview recorded Thursday before Sunday’s broadcast of the pre-taped awards. Here, slightly edited for clarity, are their remarks.
AP: You’re an especially varied group of actors with quite different styles and approaches. How did you coalesce as an ensemble?
EDDIE REDMAYNE: A lot of credit has to be given to Francine Maisler, who was our casting director. All of the characters represented in the film were so unique and so specific. I think she collected a group of actors who had completely different styles and completely different outlooks on the way to approach work. For me, what I loved when I got to see a cut of the movie was that you saw that. It was like a clash of different types of music, whether it was jazz or rock or classical — but all of that coming together under Aaron. He was the conductor, almost. So I give Aaron and Francine a huge amount of credit. It was a joy day-and-day-out to watch these great and different and varied actors slugging it out.
FRANK LANGELLA: There is something very powerful about working toward the greater good. Actors have a tendency to think about themselves a lot. How’s my lighting? Am I going to get my close-in my scene? But as I said in my speech, Aaron rose above that and caused all of us to do that.
JOHN CARROLL LYNCH: When you take a job in a movie called “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” there’s an assumption that it’s going to be an ensemble picture. It’s a self-selecting group of people who want to work with others so intimately and being willing to risk their own process in such quarters. It is a tribute to the casting and to Aaron’s script but also to the actors who said “yes.”
For Netflix’s movie, centering on the riots during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the Oscar-winning actor immersed himself in the role of Tom Hayden, activist and former husband of Jane Fonda, while finding parallels to recent events “most revelatory.”
Eddie Redmayne, a 2015 Oscar winner for playing Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, once again takes on the role of a historical figure in Netflix’s The Trial of the Chicago 7. As Tom Hayden, the late anti-war activist who was charged alongside six others for inciting riots during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Redmayne stands out in a star-studded cast that includes Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Rylance, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Frank Langella and Michael Keaton — all while delivering dialogue written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who also directs. Redmayne spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the camaraderie on set, the ways in which the film parallels America today and some words of wisdom from Hayden’s former wife Jane Fonda.
What were your first reactions to the script?
There was great anticipation when it arrived in my inbox because I am an admirer of Aaron’s work. I’m a slow reader, and it was one of the quickest things I’ve ever read. I had this extraordinary feeling of having just learned about a moment in history that I was pretty ignorant about. It felt almost like a piece of music — clashes of jazz, classical, punk and all in a quite extraordinary story about some quite extraordinary people. There was a lightness of touch to it that was perhaps the most revelatory thing. He made it feel so easy.
Were you familiar with the events depicted in the film before reading the script?
I wasn’t. I’d heard about Abbie Hoffman, but I wouldn’t have been able to place him. I knew little about the peace movement. I had actually just watched the great documentary [The Vietnam War from Ken Burns] and got some insight for the first time, properly, about the war. It was starting to work this job that was an education for me.
What kind of research did you do to learn more about Tom Hayden?
One of the wonderful things about the job we do is you get to immerse yourself in a moment in history, in stories that are extraordinary, and through that immersion, you learn a huge amount. In doing the homework, as it were, I read Tom’s work and found as much footage that I could of him. There were great courtroom sketches of Tom that gave a sense of his physicality — it was almost like seeing him, caught by another artist, revealed something else. But you do the homework, hoping to have it embedded in you, and then [you must] be able to throw it away and play opposite these other actors. Aaron was very open to all of us that this was his version of events. He described it as a painting, not a photograph.
Jamie Dornan (“Wild Mountain Thyme”) and Eddie Redmayne (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”) sat down for a virtual chat for Variety‘s Actors on Actors, presented by Amazon Studios. For more, click here.
Jamie Dornan and Eddie Redmayne began their time in Hollywood as roommates: Reunited on a video chat a decade later, they reflect on driving their tiny red rental car around Los Angeles, only to be rejected at auditions over and over.
It’s notable that both actors find themselves juggling art-house fare and franchise work, making them two of the most recognizable leading men of their generation. In Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix), Redmayne plays antiwar activist Tom Hayden as he faces federal charges for protesting at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. And in John Patrick Shanley’s “Wild Mountain Thyme,” distributed by Bleecker Street, Dornan portrays Anthony, an Irish Mr. Darcy who can’t figure out his feelings for his neighbor (Emily Blunt).
Jamie Dornan: Let’s start by talking about “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and your portrayal of Thomas Hayden. I have to start by saying I didn’t know a lot about that trial. You are brilliant in it, as you are in everything. How was your experience making that movie?
Eddie Redmayne: Thanks for being kind about it. I think you know that Aaron Sorkin has always been someone that I’ve sort of loved, and whose work I’ve been kind of mildly obsessed with. So it was genuinely one of those moments when the script arrived that it sort of felt too good to be true. And I kind of said yes before reading the thing.
There was actually that slight hesitation, when you really love someone’s work, and you can’t quite believe that they’ve invited you to the party. And then there’s the fear of: What if it’s the one shoddy one they do? Because I’ve done that; I’ve worked with brilliant actors who never do bad films, except for the film I do with them. But it was brilliant, and a really riveting read.
From Academy Awards to a Harry Potter franchise, is Redmayne the world’s most versatile actor?
However, this month he leads an all-star cast in Netflix’s most important film of the year, The Trial of the Chicago 7, and starts filming the next installment of the world’s most popular franchise…
In Kettle’s Yard Art Gallery in Cambridge, sat on top of a dark mahogany piano is a marble sculpture called Prometheus made by Constantin Brâncusi. It is the one piece of art that Eddie Redmayne would save in the case of ultimate catastrophe.
The actor who studied Art History at Cambridge University tells me about it as we leave the film set of the third installment of Fantastic Beasts in the early days of an autumn that, we suspect, we will never forget.
Eddie Redmayne loves the arts. Not only is he knowledgeable about sculptures, painters and artists, but in his downtime he sketches and even plays the piano. It’s no surprise then that he started his career on theatre boards, despite several people warning him that he would not survive in it.
“Many people took it upon themselves to tell me that it would never work, that only extraordinary cases achieve it and that I could not make a living from this professionally.” Even his father came home one day with a list of statistics on unemployed young actors and gave it to him.
Redmayne comes across as modest, polite and with a dry (but sharp) sense of humour. He adds: “But I enjoyed theatre so much that I got to the point of thinking that if I could only do one play a year for the rest of my life… I would do it. And that would completely fulfil me.”
We interview The Trial of the Chicago 7 star Eddie Redmayne about his research into playing Tom Hayden and the film’s parallels to modern times.
The Trial of the Chicago 7, which begins streaming on Netflix October 16, tackles the backlash anti-Vietnam War protesters faced in 1968. While it is a historical drama, Aaron Sorkin dramatizes the lives and perspectives of various protestors in his script.
One of the Seven was activist Tom Hayden, who is played by Eddie Redmayne in the film. The actor spoke with Screen Rant about the lessons he learned during his research and while on set.
You play Tom Hayden, a noted activist. What did you learn about him that most people may not know while you were researching him? What do you think people can learn from his journey during the course of this film?
Eddie Redmayne: I knew nothing about Tom before. I knew nothing about this story before I read the script, and I found is so sort of thrilling to read. I found it was this weird mixture of emotional and funny, and yet it informed me about this moment I knew nothing about. It was just a delight, really, to get to research Tom’s life.
Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne is back with a new film — The Trial of The Chicago 7 — whose tagline reads ‘In 1968 democracy refused’. Little wonder its release coincides with this year’s U.S. presidential election. As Eddie Redmayne tells Tom Chamberlin, it is an urgent movement.
Have you met Eddie?” I was asked several times before I met Eddie Redmayne. It would be easier to relay the meaning behind that question in person rather than on paper, but the gist of it was this: when going through the standard operating procedure of setting up a cover shoot, questions like “Does he need a car?”, “Does he have any catering needs?”, or “Can we shoot behind-the-scenes content?” all elicited the response, “Have you met Eddie?” He took the tube, by the way.
This being my 36th issue of The Rake, with no fewer than 30 of those covers being handled by publicists who represent the great and good of the big screen, it is difficult to elucidate just how unusual it is to get a response like that. That is not to say that any of the actors we have featured on our cover have been swallowed up by their own image or seek to make life difficult for us Earth-dwelling normies, but to witness an actor voluntarily eschewing the trappings to save others the hassle is mindblowingly refreshing. So it was safe to say I was interested in meeting Eddie, and I was not disappointed.
Eddie Redmayne has the kind of social skills I am particularly fond of: he appears to be interested, if not actually interested, in what the person he is talking to is saying; he is affable and kind and self-deprecating; and he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously, which, given he is an Oscar winner, you might forgive him for doing. He undermines the theory that fame changes and ultimately blemishes character.
Our interview, a week or so later, got off to a good start. “Oh my God, you bastard,” he said, though in every way I deserved it. I had dialled in over Zoom from my holiday in France, and I wasn’t going to keep the view to myself. Once the smugness faded, and I had to remember to try to be professional, I got on with the questions.
Award-winning actor Eddie Redmayne, who gave us unforgettable performances as Marius Pontmercy in “Les Miserables” and as physicist Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything,” is back with another memorable portrayal of American social and political activist, author and politician Tom Hayden in the Aaron Sorkin-helmed drama “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
The 38-year-old British actor talked to us recently about his new film and what he learned from the pandemic as he isolates in London with his wife Hannah Bagshawe and their two kids — Iris, 4, and Luke, 2.
Where are you right now?
I am in the U.K. I am back to work, which is interesting and it’s lovely to be back to work actually, albeit in a sort of new normal really. But it’s exciting to be back and acting again.
Did portraying Tom Hayden make you more determined to be more of an activist?
I think, it’s an incredibly complicated question that, and one that I still honestly battle with on a daily basis. Because of the world we live in now, people in the public eye who may have no association with anything political, are given a voice that is perhaps unbalanced.
I believe that, of course we all have our own thoughts, we all have our own causes and beliefs that we are deeply passionate about, and I think that one of the great gifts about being an actor and people getting to see your films is that your voice can be amplified. So with that comes a wonderful thing in the sense that when there are things that you believe don’t have enough attention, you can try and amplify it.
At the same point, you have to be careful, because of course you come from a place of great privilege and there is this kind of, we are very lucky if you are a working actor, you live a good life and you have to be careful that you don’t end up playing through your own, you end up basically looking elitist and for basically sort of undermining the cause that you are passionate about. So my question to myself continuously is what are the things that are important to me?
I try and be an activist in my own personal way, for example here during lockdown in the United Kingdom, people with motor neuron disease, like ALS, weren’t put on the extremely vulnerable list, which was a list that allowed various special treatment I suppose with regards to care and with regards to getting food. And I found that quite shocking.
So the way that was for me, was writing our local constituency politician, and I threw the motor neuron organization that I work with, I am a patron there and I was getting on cross party Zoom calls to discuss why this was happening. So I try to do it at a place that is I suppose a grassroots level.
That being said, there are times when communities don’t have a voice that is as amplified as yours and I feel it is important in those moments just to speak up. I am still trying to work out on a daily basis what my role is. And it gets confused for people in the public eye because our voice is often louder than most people’s because of that amplification.
An inspirational conversation between Oscar winners Colleen Atwood and Eddie Redmayne. The pair discussed Colleen’s remarkable career as a Costume Designer, touching on her life, inspirations and practice. Colleen has won four Academy Awards for her work in costume and has designed for films such as Edward Scissorhands, Memoirs Of A Geisha, Chicago, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Silence of the Lambs.
The fascinating discussion touched on Colleen’s beginnings in the industry and her early aspirations as a painter. She also talked through her design process, her relationship with directors such as Tim Burton and Rob Marshall, and dissected the intricacies of creating clothing for a character for film. Colleen explained “it’s not about 50 costume changes…It’s about creating an iconic image for a character”. [Source]
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