Discovery to Air 10-Year-Old BBC Stephen Hawking Biopic … Starring Benedict Cumberbatch?!
It’s not surprising that the BBC made a little-known (at least to North American audiences) Stephen Hawking biopic back in 2004. This transforms into slightly interesting trivia when you learn that ‘Hawking’ stars a pre-fame Benedict Cumberbatch as the renowned theoretical physicist. However, it edges into wacky “Holy s--t!” territory when you realize that the Discovery Channel is going to re-air the film this Sunday. The same day as the Golden Globes. Where Eddie Redmayne is nominated for playing Hawking in ‘The Theory of Everything.’ And where his chief rival is Cumberbatch, nominated for playing another British genius in ‘The Imitation Game.’
Huh. Well played, Discovery. Well played.
The news comes to us via Deadline and it’s an odd and slightly hilarious way for a channel known for science and nature programming to capitalize on the award season showdown that is Redmayne’s Stephen Hawking vs. Cumberbatch’s Alan Turing. Heck, now we can watch ‘Hawking’ and ‘The Theory of Everything’ back-to-back and obsess over whose take is better. After all, Hawking’s simultaneously tragic and triumphant life story is tailor-made for an ambitious actor, requiring a total physical transformation to properly portray the longterm effects of ALS.
If you watch some footage from ‘Hawking’ (and you can in the embed below!), it’s striking just how similar young Cumberbatch looks to Redmayne once he puts on those glasses. Hell, it’s striking just how similar ‘Hawking’ looks to ‘The Theory of Everything’! Sure, it looks cheaper and less cinematic (that’s British TV for you), but some scenes look borderline identical. To be fair, ‘The Theory of Everything’ chooses to place its focus on the relationships in Hawking’s life while ‘Hawking’ focuses on his work, but some of the shots and moments appear uncannily similar.
So grab you popcorn, ladies and gentlemen. The awards season battle between these two has just gotten a whole lot weirder. Try to not imagine Cumberbatch confronting Redmayne on the Oscars red carpet and shouting “I played him first!” before they engage in a round of gentlemanly fisticuffs.