Earlier today Focus Features hosted a press luncheon at Lucques on behalf of James Marsh‘s The Theory of Everything (11.7.14), the rapturously received drama about the life of celestial physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne), his wife Jane (Felicity Jones) and their struggle with Hawking’s ALS disease, not to mention their extra-marital intrigues. Redmayne, Jones, producer Lisa Bruce and screenwriter Anthony McCarten took turns speaking with journalists at five (or was it six?) different tables. It was all so civilized and convivial. Everyone conversed, listened, minded their manners, laughed but not too loudly, enjoyed the excellent food, etc. Nobody spilled their drink or behaved like a gorilla or said the wrong thing.
The Theory of Everything star Eddie Redmayne during today’s luncheon at Lucques.
(l. to. r.) a portion of Variety‘s Tim Gray, back of Pete Hammond’s head, TheWrap‘s Steve Pond, back of some guy’s head, Eddie Redmayne, back of another guy’s head. MCN’s David Poland is at far right.
My table included In Contention‘s Kris Tapley, TheWrap‘s Steve Pond and Variety‘s Tim Gray. (The table next to us included MCN’s David Poland and Deadline‘s Pete Hammond.)
Theory opens in nine days. The big premiere happened last night at the Academy. Focus’s big mission, it seems to me, is to underline the notion that (a) Theory is indeed a Best Picture contender (most pundits agree) and (b) to convince the guilds and the Academy that it’s a better “eccentric British genius copes with a serious personal problem” movie — richer, trippier, more soulful — than Morten Tyldum‘s The Imitation Game (Weinstein Co., 11.21).
I admire and respect them both, although I would have to describe myself as being slightly more in the corner of The Theory of Everything because it feels more celestial and salad-tossy, particularly during the last 20 minutes or so. I felt genuinely touched at the end while I felt….well, certainly impressed at the end of Imitation Game. But I don’t want to state this view too strongly for fear of being shortchanged on Weinstein Co. award-season ads. Kidding. Well, partly.
I mentioned a Saturday Night Live idea to Redmayne, who is all but certain to be Oscar-nominated for Best Actor. I said it might be amusing if he and Benedict Cumberbatch, another all-but-certain Best Actor nominee for his portrayal of that other eccentric British genius with a serious personal problem, Enigma code-breaker Alan Turing, in The Imitation Game…it might be amusing if he and Cumberbatch were to just say “all right, let’s stop pretending we aren’t involved in a major mano e mano situation here…we obviously are and only one of us can win so let’s cut the shit and get down to it like gladiators, or more precisely like athletes. Boxing, arm wrestling, long-distance running, motorcycle racing, freestyle swimming…a kind of Oscar Olympics and may the best man win.”
Redmayne, who was wearing a perfectly tailored Wes Anderson-style maroon suit, is a nice guy and good sport, but I got the idea he wasn’t 100% amused by the idea. I suppose that the thinking or fear is that he and Cumberbatch may cancel each other out; ditto the notion of Theory and Imitation against each other in the Best Picture contest. I don’t think it matters all that much. The important thing is to be in the game and “in the conversation” and rack up some nice theatrical totals, and of course to be nominated. That’s the main thing.
I for one am not one who lives by the slogan “he/she who comes to the end of life with the most awards and the most toys, wins.” What matters to me (and what should matter to anyone who’s given the matter the slightest amount of thought) is to live a life of quality…to feel love and loyalty and compassion and to be occasionally graced with inspiration. And to eat right and stay in good shape and ride bikes whenever possible, or even better ride big scooters or a motorcycle. And to travel as often as possible in Europe and Asia (Vietnam especially) and parts of Central and South America.