MCM: Eddie Redmayne

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With The Danish Girl recently in theaters and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them looming on the horizon, I figured we needed to take a good, long, lingering look at Eddie Redmayne’s repertoire. For a guy who has only two dozen acting credits under his belt, over half of them are period pieces. Ranging from the 11th century to the 1970s, let’s enjoy some ginger eye-candy across the ages.

 

Elizabeth I (2005) – Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton

Eddie Redmayne in "Elizabeth I" (2005)

This miniseries has questionable costuming choices, but the casting is solid, with Helen Mirren playing Queen Elizabeth I and Jeremy Irons as the Earl of Leicester. Eddie plays the young, foppish, and hot-headed Earl of Southampton, who vies for the position of the aging queen’s favorite.

 

Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) – Thomas Babington

Eddie Redmayne in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (2007)

The sequel to Elizabeth (1998) with Cate Blanchett reprising her role as the Virgin Queen, Eddie is cast as Thomas Babington, the eponymous leader of the traitorous Babington Plot to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I. Since there are no spoilers in history, I feel the need to inform you that things don’t turn out well for Thomas.

 

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) – William Stafford

Eddie Redmayne in "The Other Boleyn Girl" (2008)

We’ve devoted an entire podcast to this feature film based on Phillipa Gregory’s 2001 novel of the same name, but I had completely forgotten that Eddie Redmayne played Mary Boleyn’s second husband, William Stafford. The costuming in this film caused a huge uproar when it debuted in 2008 (and not in a good way), but Eddie has the perfect look of a young Tudor gentleman and with that, I cannot argue.

 

Tess of the D’Urbervilles (2008) – Angel Clare

Eddie Redmayne in "Tess of d'Urbervilles" (2008) Eddie Redmayne in "Tess of d'Urbervilles" (2008)

This two-part miniseries adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel has Eddie Redmayne playing the idealistic son of a preacher who falls in love with the ill-fated Tess. Happy endings are hard to come by in this tragic story, but Eddie looks handsome in late-19th-century suits.

 

Black Death (2010) – Osmund

Eddie Redmayne in "Black Death" (2010) Eddie Redmayne in "Black Death" (2010) Eddie Redmayne in "Black Death" (2010)

Eddie Redmayne plays Osmund, a young cleric who finds himself tackling the forces of darkness while the plague decimates England. In the end, he sheds his priesthood and turns into a badass witchfinder after the previous witchfinder Ulric, played by Sean Bean, predictably dies (because, Sean Bean).

 

The Pillars of the Earth (2010) – Jack Jackson

Eddie Redmayne in "The Pillars of the Earth" (2010) Eddie Redmayne in "The Pillars of the Earth" (2010)

File this one under “Awesome Flick but Awful Costumes.” I recently mainlined the entire Pillars of the Earth series over the course of 48 hours, and determined three things:

  1. Eddie Redmayne is weird-hot.
  2. The costumes are TERRIBLE.
  3. The show is AMAZING.

Eddie plays Jack Jackson, a talented stone carver with a somewhat mystic origin story. Based on the novel of the same name by Ken Follett, Pillars probably has one of the best ensemble casts I’ve seen in recent memory, featuring Rufus Sewell, Ian McShane, Haley Atwell, Donald Sutherland, and Matthew Macfadyen. The script is solid, the actors are perfectly cast (I read the book 20 years ago and dammit, every one of the actors looked exactly like how I pictured them), and all of that helps ease the fact that the costumes look like they were lifted from a high school madrigal group’s wardrobe.

 

My Week With Marilyn (2011) – Colin Clark

Eddie Redmayne in "My Week With Marilyn" (2011) Eddie Redmayne in "My Week With Marilyn" (2011)

My Week With Marilyn focuses on Colin Clark, played by Eddie Redmayne, an aspiring young filmmaker who secures a position as Laurence Olivier’s assistant during the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl (1957). The cast is packed with great talent, with Kenneth Branagh as Olivier (the role he has been roleplaying since the late-’80s), Julia Ormond as Viviene Leigh, Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe, Judi Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike, and Emma Watson as Clark’s love interest, Lucy the costume girl, as well as appearances by a whole host of “OMG, it’s THAT guy!” actors.

 

Birdsong (2012) – Stephen Wraysford

Eddie Redmayne in "Birdsong" (2012) Eddie Redmayne in "Birdsong" (2012) Eddie Redmayne in "Birdsong" (2012)

In the miniseries adaptation of Sebastian Faulks’ 1993 novel, Eddie plays Stephen, a soldier in WWI who falls in love with a beautiful Frenchwoman, Isabelle (played by Clémence Poésy), and of course tragedy and drama ensue against the backdrop of the Great War.

 

Les Miserables (2012) – Marius

Eddie Redmayne in "Les Miserables" (2012) Eddie Redmayne in "Les Miserables" (2012) Eddie Redmayne in "Les Miserables" (2012) Eddie Redmayne in "Les Miserables" (2012)

In this adaptation of the eternally beloved musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, Eddie plays the young hero Marius, an idealistic revolutionary who totally ditches the badass Éponine for that annoying blonde soprano falls in love with the beautiful Cosette. I mean, there’s a bunch of other stuff that happens, but that’s basically the gist of the Marius-Éponine-Cosette story arc.

I may have some unresolved baggage relating to a performance of “Les Mis” in the ’90s during a pivotal stage in my psycho-sexual development. But seriously, Marius. Cosette? Really? Ugh.

 

Theory of Everything (2014) – Stephen Hawking

Eddie Redmayne in "The Theory of Everything" (2014) Eddie Redmayne in "The Theory of Everything" (2014) Eddie Redmayne in "The Theory of Everything" (2014)

This film earned Eddie an Oscar, a BAFTA, and a Screen Actors Guild award for best actor. I watched this recently, and I have to say that he does a pretty amazing job transforming into the brilliant physicist Stephen Hawking as his life gets eaten away by Lou Gehrig’s Disease. However, watching it also lead me to believe that there was no way in hell Eddie couldn’t have walked away with all three major acting awards, because it’s about as blatantly Academy Award/BAFTA/SAG-baiting as you can get. The script was called out a few times for heavily sanitizing Hawking’s life, but in the end, the film goes to great lengths to faithfully recreate the decades covering Hawking’s first marriage, from the early 1960s to the early 1990s.

 

The Danish Girl (2015) – Einer Wegener/Lili Elbe

The Danish Girl (2015) The Danish Girl (2015) The Danish Girl (2015)

I was pretty sure this was going to be yet another shoe-in for Best Actor at the big awards, but nope — Leo finally clenched it! Good for him. That said, Eddie plays Einar Wegener/Lile Elbe, the first person to undergo a sex-change operation in the 1930s in this gorgeous film by director Tom Hooper. Check out our review of the costumes!

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) – Newt Scamander

Eddie Redmayne in "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" (2016) Eddie Redmayne in "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" (2016) Eddie Redmayne in "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" (2016)

Slated for a November 2016 release, we here at Frock Flicks are waiting with bated breath for the next installment in the Harry Potter universe. Eddie plays Newt Scamander, the author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the seminal tract on magical critters and required reading at Hogwarts. Set in the 1920s, and in America, we are going to get a look at a whole new side of the Wizarding World!

 

What’s your favorite Eddie Redmayne role so far? Tell us in the comments!

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About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Website

Sarah discovered her dual passion for history and costume right around the age of twelve. Dragged kicking and screaming to her first Renaissance Faire at Black Point, she was convinced she was going to hate it, but to her surprise, she fell head over heels in love with the world of reenactment and dress up immediately. Her undergraduate degree is in Clothing & Textile Design, and she has a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture. When she’s not hauling crap to SCA events and ren faires, Sarah enjoys reading true crime books, writing fiction, and sewing historical clothing from the Middle Ages through the 20th-century. One of these days, she might even start updating her old costuming blog again.

20 Responses

  1. Susan Pola

    My fav is a tie between The Danish Girl and Pillars with My Week With Marilyn and Theory of Everything a close second.
    I intensely dislike Philippa Gregory novels, but he was a credible Stafford.

    Reply
    • Sarah Lorraine

      Your list looks a lot like my list! I’m going to cover “My Week With Marilyn” and “Theory of Everything” at some point. Both get the late-50s-early-60s spot-on.

      Reply
      • Susan Pola

        And of course Marilyn’s wardrobe. BTW wasn’t she a fan of Charles James’ fashions?

        And now to something completely funny, a review of movies/TV where Sean Bean survives?

        Reply
  2. Emily Barry

    I didn’t think anyone could make me like Marius, whom I normally find unbearably irritating, but Eddie Redmayne did it! He made me believe in his passion for the Cause (which gave him more dimension than Young Fool In Love), and played the young idealist convincingly enough that I could forgive the whole “love at first sight” thing. No small feat!

    Reply
    • Sarah Lorraine

      I could write an entire novel about how much the Marius-Éponine-Cosette thing pisses me off, SO MUCH. SO SO SO MUCH. I agree that the musical doesn’t really give either Marius or Cosette much to work with, but Éponine just blows everyone out of the water every time she’s in a scene. She’s given the best songs and the best lines and the best character development and Marius can’t be bothered to give a shit until she’s literally dying in his arms. I’m sorry, who wouldn’t fall in love with this passionate, charismatic young woman who is willing to lay down her life for a cause she believes in? And Marius is all “Oh, hey, I think I loved you a little bit, too! But you’re dead now, so I’mma just gonna after that one-dimensional walking ‘helpless female’ stereotype now that you’re conveniently out of the picture and except for a tiny footnote at the end of the musical where I tell your parents off for being assholes to you, I’m not going to spend any time examining my own dumbassery.”

      I know it’s different in the book, but face it, the musical is where it’s at.

      Ok, so that might have explained a lot about my high school love life, except for the part about getting shot and dying and all. But still!

      Reply
      • Lea

        Hi I like reading your blog but this comment really annoyed me, it’s like the reverse of the entitled “nice guy” argument. “Eponine’s such a nice girl, Marius is a dumbass for not being with her”. He didn’t love her romantically (not even a little bit, it’s possible to love someone as a friend), that doesn’t make him an dumbass.

        Reply
        • Kendra

          She didn’t say Eponine was nice, she said Eponine was far more complex of a character than bland boring Cosette! Which is so right. What I hate is that Marius is clearly humoring Eponine while she dies.

          Reply
          • Lea

            My point was it mirrors the arguments a lot of entitled “friendzoned” guys make, but with the genders flipped. I know Eponine wasn’t literally called nice. And what do you want Marius to do shove her away from him and leave her to die alone?

            Sarah – Yes it’s fictional but the ideas behind it aren’t – by your logic nothing fictional can ever be offensive. Plus you literally said it was your own high school experience. Someone isn’t a jerk for having the audacity to not be into you…

            Reply
    • Pina

      I think Lea reacted this way because she thought Eponine’s love was being justified through her willingness to die for him, which I have to admit I could have construed from your comment at first. I’m not really a Les Miserables fan–I’ve read the book once, many years ago, in translation, AND I think it was an abridged version–and I’ve never seen the musical. But from what I seem to remember Eponine did come across as somewhat obsessive and stalkerish in the book. And obviously, any argument that goes “I’m entitled to you because I love you so much (that I will do this and that for you)” should be answered with “Wtf? Well that’s your problem if you do!” Also, to be willing to sacrifice your life for a man who doesn’t give a shit about you–how much more doormat-ish can you get? To me Eponine seemed as bad as –if not worse than– Cosette in her own way from a modern feminist point of view. But, in response to Lea, I think here the comment was meant to point out that (in the musical at least) Eponine was a far more complex character and stronger woman than Cosette, in which case I’d be frustrated too see her completely passed over by the young hero in favour of the bland, docile and pretty “heroine”.

      Reply
      • Sarah Lorraine

        Eponine was a far more complex character and stronger woman than Cosette, in which case I’d be frustrated too see her completely passed over by the young hero in favour of the bland, docile and pretty “heroine”.

        I don’t want to get into beating a dead social justice horse but yes, you understand what my hyperbole-laden rant was getting at.

        And yes, Eponine in the book was a horrible, stalkery character who didn’t so much love Marius, but was obsessed with him. She was majorly remade into a strong female lead in the musical, Marius’ best friend even, with a full set of teeth and everything. So the narrative changes from “stalker” to “girl who is one of the guys” which I, as a teenager, very much identified with. So in my admittedly narrow view of the world at age 15, this appealed to my experience as being the nerdy girl that got to listen to the guy she had a crush on go on for hours about some more popular girl he admired. I mean, hell, this is the premise of at least a dozen teen films and god knows how many books, that I was raised with and identified with.

        So. My ranting was not to say that Eponine had more right than Cosette to be Marius’ object of desire. It was to say, “Taken at face value, because this is a derivative work of fiction, Les Miz Eponine is given more depth than any of the other characters, aside from Valjean, so it comes across as contrived when Marius falls for the 2-D female lead at, literally, first glance.” A 2-D female lead, by the way, that is basically given everything simply because she is “good” (rough start in life notwithstanding) and conforms to all the gender and social stereotypes of what a “good girl” should be, how she should act, and even how she looks (blonde, pretty, traditionally feminine). Les Miz Eponine, on the other hand, is fundamentally “good” at heart, despite her despicable parents, but she is non-gender conforming (dresses as a boy, hangs out with the boys, does not act like a “good girl”) and she is willing to lay down her life for a cause (not for Marius — big difference between the book and the musical). So much time is spent working to build Les Miz Eponine’s character and then she dies. In the book, she leaps in front of the musketfire and dies protecting Marius, which I guess is considered a character flaw these days. In the musical, she is mistaken for a man and is shot returning to the barricade to warn her brother and Marius about some plot or something.

        Either that, or I’m just an entitled shitlord at heart.

        Reply
  3. Charity

    I’ve seen all of them except the last two. I blame it on my need to watch every available costume drama in existence.

    Eddie is one of those actors that I forgot to notice for awhile, and then in hindsight realized — YOU ARE IN EVERYTHING. He’s very good. I’ll be interested to see “The Danish Girl” one of these days.

    Reply
    • Sarah Lorraine

      That’s exactly how it happened for me. I remember hearing his name a lot over the last year (probably since his Oscar win last year) and I finally got curious when I noticed he was in “Pillars of the Earth”, looked him up on IMDB, and realized he’s been in EVERYTHING.

      And definitely watch “The Danish Girl”. It’s gorgeous. One of the most beautifully filmed movies I’ve seen in ages. Bummed it didn’t get any love from the Academy.

      Reply
  4. Cheryl

    Team Eponine here!! I lost a lot of respect for Marius for “falling” for such a ridiculous ideal of a girl. Wonder if he would have fallen so hard if he knew what her mom did for a living… ;)

    And yes! Watch Danish Girl! I had been avoiding it (not my favorite time period, plus I wasnt sure how interesting tje story would be since I already knew the punchline), but It was really compelling. I especially loved the focus on how his wife handled everything… It was really thought provoking!

    Reply
  5. Kristina

    I really don’t understand this man’s appeal. He is a moderately good actor, but I’ve yet to be bowled over by a performance of his. He is also rather ugly and owes much of his success to the fact that he was born wealthy.

    Reply

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