One of the films nominated for multiple Oscars this year, The Theory of Everything is based on Jane Wilde Hawking’s book ‘Travelling to Infinity: My life with Stephen’, a memoir dealing with her marriage to Stephen Hawking, his deterioration due to Motor Neurone disease and of course his legendary success in the world of physics. Although the film has brought with it great success, there have been some debates regarding using a non-disabled actor to play a disabled part.
In a recent Guardian article, this enactment of a disabled character was compared to that of an actor playing the part of a different race to their own. ‘We wouldn’t accept actors blacking up, so why applaud ‘cripping up’?’ Personally when watching The Theory of Everything I felt uncomfortable through some scenes, in which Eddie Redmayne who plays Stephen Hawking has to recreate the very late stages of Hawking’s disease. Although some may applaud his acting skills and say that by creating this awkwardness he is in fact showing its disability in true light, I couldn’t help but wonder what the reaction would be of someone currently suffering from this disease. The film is an undeniable success, however perhaps if we viewed it from a different perspective we would not applaud it to the same degree.