Six months ago, it never would have occurred to me that I could fall for Eddie Redmayne. I had seen him in a handful of films – Glorious 39, My Week With Marilyn, The Good Shepherd – and while I remembered him, I didn’t really care for him that much. He seemed creepy to me, although in retrospect, I think that just proves how good of an actor he is. Anyway, time passed and Eddie brought the man-fashion throughout the Les Miserables promotion and the awards season, and he ended up being, without a doubt, the best dressed person of the season. For this newfound Fashion Boy status, Eddie earned himself a W Magazine cover, joint with Brit Marling, an up-and-coming actress (I’ve never seen any of her films). So, can I ignore Brit and just focus on Eddie? Because his interview is absolutely charming! He’s color blind! And he loves to sing. He seems quite romantic, sweet and lovely and I have such a crush on him these days.
An interesting story about Yves Klein Blue: Eddie was staring at an abstract landscape by Gustav Klimt at the Neue Galerie in Manhattan on a freezing afternoon in early February. “Look at that,” he said, pointing to a small bright blue patch in the upper left corner of the canvas. Redmayne, who is 31 but has the boyish exuberance of the perpetually curious, majored in art history at Cambridge and wrote his dissertation on the artist Yves Klein and his signature color: a pure electric blue that nearly matches the shade in the Klimt. “I’m color-blind, but I can pick out that blue anywhere,” Redmayne said and walked toward the painting in a sort of trance. “I wrote 30,000 words on this color, and I never grew tired of it. The pigment is staggering. It’s amazing that a color can be so emotional. One can only hope to achieve that intensity in acting.”
Seven years ago, he came to NYC to audition for The Good Shepherd, in which he played Angelina Jolie’s son: “I doubt it was my acting—I have my big lips to thank for getting cast.”
His career path: “My trajectory has always been a little bipolar—I’m caught between the Elizabethans and the crazies… I heard about the auditions for Les Mis while I was in a field in North Carolina shooting a movie called Hick, in which I play a pedophile meth addict from Texas with a limp. I was in my Winnebago dressed in a cowboy costume, and I took my iPhone and filmed myself singing my character Marius’s big song.”
His character in Les Mis: “Three people die because of Marius,” he said as he ordered Wiener schnitzel and a glass of white wine. “He has to bear that weight.” Redmayne smiled. “When I was a boy, I was so jealous of Gavroche, the youngest revolutionary. I wanted to be him. Gavroche and Les Mis may be why I became an actor.”
His first stage role was in a production of Oliver when he was 11: “I had one line,” he said, still sounding proud. “Here it is: ‘Books you ordered from the bookseller, sir.’ I was elated and terrified. That musical was like a rite of passage. Half the cast of Les Mis were in some production of Oliver! That experience sticks with you: I can still do my audition dance.”
Corset pain: During his second year at Cambridge, Redmayne was cast as Viola in an all-male Shakespeare’s Globe production of Twelfth Night. “I was a boy playing a girl playing a boy,” he recalled. “I had to wear a whalebone corset. To this day, when actresses on set start whining to me about the pain of their corsets, I say, ‘I’ve been there. It’s not that bad.’ ”
He was saved by the play Red: In 2009, he was sent the script for Red, John Logan’s play about the artist Mark Rothko and his assistant. A meditation on mentors, genius, and the creative process, Red reminded Redmayne of his school thesis on Klein’s blue. “And Klein worked in red too,” Redmayne said, as if it were a sign. Night after night, Redmayne’s character, the assistant, would engage Rothko on existential subjects while mixing paint, hoping to come up with Rothko’s perfect hue. “During the production, I became a parody of myself,” Redmayne joked. “I lived on St. Mark’s Place in the East Village and started painting. Red restored my faith in acting.”
I feel like Eddie Redmayne is who James Franco wishes he could be. Like, an unabashed artist who will talk about Yves Klein Blue for half an interview and it will actually be a clever and interesting story. Eddie works consistently on the stage, and I think that’s given him a perspective on acting and the industry which most American actors lack – Eddie is all about the ART, and it’s not pretentious, or at least it doesn’t feel like that. Eddie’s not sitting around, pontificating on his “Art” and crying about how people don’t understand him. He’s just doing his work, exploring his interests (colors!) and being cool.
How interesting is it that Eddie is able to pull together his looks so well while being color blind? That’s amazing!
Photos courtesy of W Magazine.