Fast Eddie / Evening Standard. November 2007 г | Eddie Redmayne archives

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Fast Eddie / Evening Standard. November 2007 г

Eddie Redmayne palyed rugby with Prince William at Eton, then sailed through Cambridge and into the arms of Scarlett Johansson, Julienne Moore and Angelina Jolie. He’s the first to admit he was born lucky, says a blushing Marianne McDonald.


‘My life is insanely privileged’, Eddie Redmayne concedes. Yup. Eddie was in the same class as Prince William at Eton, went on to Cambridge, and straight after graduating won The Evening Standard Theatre Reward for Outstanding Newcomer and began making movies with Scarlett Johansson (he played her husband), Angelina Jolie (he played her son), Cate Blanchett, with whom he appears in Elisabeth: The Golden Age (out today), Toni Collette, Clive Owen, Natalie Portman…the list goes on. However, a lot of his movies aren’t out yet, so you won’t have heard of Eddie unless you saw Like Minds, his first film, in which he played a psychotic schoolboy to Toni Collette’s ferocious forensic psychologist, or Robert de Niro’s CIA triller The Good Shepherd, in which he played Angelina Jolie’s – and Matt Damon’s – son. A review of that described him as having ‘lips to rival Angelina’s’. I think they are closer to Jonathan Rhys Meyers’, though, in the flesh the 25-year-old doesn’t have any of Rhys Meyers’ dark jitteriness, being tall, thin and pulsating with positive energy. He has green eyes, freckles and bed-hair, and there is a country wholesomeness about him – I keep visualizing him with straw in his ears or waking up with the Waltons. Today he is in a Alexander McQueen top with a teddy bear in the front, black skinny jeans, Converse-trainers, old-fashioned sunglasses and a trilby hat. He doesn’t have Etonian airs: he is far too natural to be drinking up the characters he’s been playing and the places – New York, Sydney and New Orleans — he has been living and filming in. ‘I’ve decided there are two options. One is to not care about it and the other is to admit I’ve been insanely privileged and I have a huge amount to be grateful for’, is his take on it. ‘Hopefully, work-wise, I’m not labeled like that. And I had an amazing time at school, though I’ve got friends who hated it. I think the thing with that school is, it has amazing facilities, and if you’re interested in lots of things you can use them.’ The big thing Eton gave him, it turns out, was access to an inspirational teacher, Simon Dormandy, who taught him acting and got him his break at 20, at Shakespeare’s Globe. ‘He raised the game,’ Eddie says. ‘It’s extraordinary, the number of actors who have come out of that school.’ (He has the Etonian habit of referring to his alma mater as ‘school’.)

And the social side? He pauses. ‘It’s definitely got a stigma attached,’ he says more carefully. ‘I…I didn’t like that side of it. I still have a lot of friends from there, but I am in another world now, to a certain extend.’

He was in the same year as Prince William? Yes, I was, and he was a gent. I played quite a lot of rugby with him, and I really liked him and I admire him, but I haven’t seen him since.’

Did people treat him differently because of who he was? ‘No, he was just another guy.’ And that’s what’s odd about school: even now, when I drive through it, you see all these guys in their tails. But when you’re there, dressed in a starched collar, it doesn’t seem bizarre, because everyone’s doing it.’

Eddies brothers finds it hilarious , that he is frequently cast as a screwed-up teenager not only a psychotic killer in Like Minds, but an incestuous son in The Goat, the play he did three years ago at Almeida/Apollo theatres, and also in the film Savage Grace, in which him and Julienne Moore have an incestuous affair. ‘In Savage Grace I’m the gay son. My father runs off with my girlfriend and divorces my mother, and she screws me to straighten me out’, he says. ‘My brothers want to come and see those films in order to watch my parent’s reaction and sit there laughing. When I did The Goat in London, again playing an incestuous gay 17-year-old – that’s all I get cast as! – there was a moment when I had to snog my stage father. My brothers got endless enjoyment out of watching my dad squirm. They are so not in that world. They’re like, “Ed, Twelfth Night. Great mate. Shakespeare: so boring.”’

But Eddie always had the bug to act, even though it was ‘completely alien to my family, who were wonderfully supportive, but hadn’t a clue what they’d spawned – my dad’s a banker and my elder brother’s a banker; my dad works for a company called Seymour Pierce and my brother works for a company called CVC – I can see your eyes glazing over!’ he laughs. ‘My mum has a relocation business called Relocation London.’ The family have always lived in the same house in Chelsea, and his parents Patricia and Richard, have been together almost 30 years. Eddie is the second of three boys. Both my brothers are talented sportsmen,’ he says. ‘Jim, my older brother is an Oxford blue, and my little brother Tom is now at Durham and he’s also extraordinary, so I’m the anomaly.’

That I doubt, as he is regarded as one of the great new acting talents, and went to Cambridge to boot – he decided to go if he got a place to read art history, his other great passion, and then to go on to drama school. He was in his second year in college when The Globe decided to put on a 400th anniversary production of Twelfth Night in the place where it was first performed, London’s Middle Temple Hall. They asked Simon Dormandy to recommend a student for the part of Viola, and he gave them Eddie’s number. Fast forward to the Royal Gala Performance attended by Prince Charles and the cream of the capital’s theatrical agents, who watched Eddie’s performance alongside Mark Rylance and began a feeding frenzy to sign him (he ended up with Dallas Smith at PFD.)

‘And after Cambridge, because I hadn’t taken a year off, I thought, “I’ll try acting now, with an agent, and see if I can do this.”’

Rather to his surprise, he could. Since Like Minds and The Good Shepherd (both released in 2006), he’s filmed not only Savage Grace (out next year), but also the current release Elisabeth: The Golden Age with Cate Blanchett and Clive Owen (Eddie plays Thomas Babington, a hired assassin, who is trying to kill Elisabeth), The Other Boleyn Girl with Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman, Yellow Handkerchief with William Hurt and Maria Bello, and Powder Blue with Jessica Biel and Patrick Swayze (all out in 2008). His stories about working with A-listers combine innocence and pragmatism. He says seriously, that it’s not hard to make movies with the worlds superstars, ’once you get over the fact that they are wonderfully talented and incredible famous and living a different life,’. Of The Good Shepherd, directed by Robert de Niro, he says: I was living in New York and you’d drive in blacked-out cars to this huge armoury in Brooklyn and the paparazzi would be lining up outside for Angelina Jolie and Matt Damon. But once inside, everyone’s just working.’

It was during that movie, he recalls, that he was determined to splash out and take his girlfriend of three years, Tara Hacking, who he name-checks in the first five minutes – I’m deeply, deeply in love; she’s known me since I was 14, she knows me backwards,’ he explains, to Nobu. So he saved up all of his per diems, took them as a huge cash wodge in his pocket, and we sat there not wanting to look at the prices; we had martinis, whiskies, coffees, the whole thing. When we asked for the bill, the waiter came up and said, “Just to let you know, sir, Mr. De Niro covered your bill.” At which point Tara and I stared, floored, and she said, “Can’t we get him to come back and say that really loudly?”’

Eddie grins. “De Niro owns the restaurant, so when the booking came in he heard of it. He had a party before the premier for the film in his apartment in New York . Tara had already met Angelina, she’s in marketing, but she’s done some NGO-related charity stuff — and they’d had this amazing conversation,  and I’d just sat and watched these two like-minded people chat. But when we walked into the room, Tara turns round whispering “Your actual Brad Pitt! Your actual Brad Pitt!” – because he was there, with Angelina. And Robert De Niro’s wife Grace puts us on the table with Angelina, Brad, the writer Eric Roth and his partner, and suddenly the writer says, “We need another chair; my son has to sit with us.” At which point, Tara, bless her, says; “Don’t worry, I’ll move,” and Brad leans over and goes, “Tara, don’t worry, we’ll get a chair.” And her heart melts. She’d just spent nine months in Shanghai learning Mandarin, so the two of them were off chatting. [Pitt was banned from China for life after filming Seven years in Tibet, so he was fascinated by her experience] I was suitable jealous but lucky enough to be talking to Angelina Jolie!’

He says, he did find the whole process of filming The Good Shepherd intimidating. ‘You see the money and these massive sets and the huge costumes, and the fact that you’re staying in a wonderful hotel and there are hundreds of people around and a camera – that’s the intimidation’. But thanks to his Eton grounding, he seems relaxed about it. ‘There was one moment’, he says, ‘where Angelina was rumored to be pregnant, and we were shooting in Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic. And we were on this tiny little street, and our trailers were there. So it was her trailer, and Matt’s trailer and my trailer, and they had, like, 300 people screaming their names. And the roofs of the buildings were lined with the American paparazzi, all with their lawyers, who had flown over from America, so if The Good Shepherd contested their right to be there they already had their lawyers with them.  They rented the roofs. And hearing that scream was a real introduction to Angelina’s reality. But she would complete glide through it.’

Co-stars such as Scarlett Johansson and Angelina can’t be easy on Tara, but she couldn’t have a more devoted boyfriend. When I ask about Scarlett in The other Boleyn Girl, Eddie says easily, ‘She’s a ballsy, fun-loving girl.’ He adds, ‘She’d be there in a Tudor dress, with her New York accent, we’d be having some hilarious chat and then the cameras would start rolling and she’d go into demure English, and I’d be, “Mary, I love you!”

We went to The Café Royal for Halloween. We’d just done this huge feast scene, so Scarlett had removed these fake stuffed birds from the pie. And we turned up, having made a typically British token gesture, and she’d there looking stunning in this extraordinary dress with these birds coming out of her hair. And she comes running up, “Eddie, Eddie, who am I? Bragh!” – clawing at the air. I was like, I have no idea.” It was someone from The Birds, but I had no clue. She was endlessly getting pissed off with me for not having seen any films.’

Eddie Redmayne radiates a fantastic sense of being young, positive and successful and talks totally un-selfconsciously about all this in the civilized silence of the Bluebird’s private bar. As we walk out, though, it seems to dawn on him and he confides, ‘I worry people thing I’m a total wanker when they overhear me. But the truth is the opposite: he seems totally unspoilt.

Text by Marianne McDonald, photos by Jonathan West and Patrick McMullan

Typed by Louise

Source: Evening Standard