Eddie Redmayne didn’t do much dancing while playing inspirational theoretical physicist and ALS-stricken Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything – but that didn’t stop him from getting help from a dancer to prepare for the role.
“I worked with a dancer, a woman called Alex, who helped to find the Stephen-specific physical decline in my body,” he told PEOPLE on the Hollywood Film Awards red carpet Friday.
The London native, 32, also said he took a hands-on approach to educating himself about Hawking’s “horrific” degenerative neurological disease.
“I started, from the first day I got cast, going to an ALS clinic in London and meeting specialists, and I was introduced to people who are suffering from this really horrific disease, and they were so kind,” he said. “They wanted to teach me to represent the disease as authentically as possible.”
Redmayne, who is already earning awards-season buzz for his performance, says that while he learned a lot about ALS, Hawking’s contributions to the worlds of higher math and physics remain something of a mystery.
“I’m basically a PhD,” he deadpanned on the carpet. “No, I’m a useless scientist – and I remain a useless scientist.”