Eddie Redmayne Speaks at Stephen Hawking’s Funeral

Scientists and actors alike were among the thousands who paid tribute to the famed physicist in Cambidge

Last Updated: March 31, 2018 @ 3:32 PM

A public funeral for famed physicist Stephen Hawking was held at Great St. Mary’s Church in Cambridge, England, on Saturday, with Eddie Redmayne, who won an Oscar for playing Hawking in “The Theory of Everything,” among those who paid their respects.

Redmayne gave a reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes during the service near the University of Cambridge, where Hawking earned his Ph.D and served as a professor and research director for over 50 years.

“We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet,” the actor said in a statement at the time of Hawking’s death on March 13.

Astronomer Royal Martin Reese also gave a reading, while Hawking’s eldest son, Robert, providing the eulogy with one of his former students. Others who attended the funeral include Tesla CEO Elon Musk, actress Lily Cole, and James Bond movie franchise producer Barbara Broccoli.

Though Hawking was an outspoken atheist, his family decided to hold a traditional funeral service to allow those impacted by his work to pay their respects. Thousands gathered outside in the streets of Cambridge to watch the procession.

“Our father’s life and work meant many things to many people, both religious and non-religious. So, the service will be both inclusive and traditional, reflecting the breadth and diversity of his life,” Hawking’s children wrote in a statement to The Telegraph.

“Our father lived and worked in Cambridge for over 50 years. He was an integral and highly recognizable part of the university and the city. For this reason, we have decided to hold his funeral in the city that he loved so much and which loved him.”

Despite being diagnosed with a motor neurone disease at the age of 21 and being told by doctors that he had two years to live, Hawking went on to live to the age of 76, making groundbreaking discoveries on the nature of black holes and the origin of the universe. Using a computer operated with a single cheek muscle to talk in the later stages of his life, Hawking became one of the most well-known scientists in the world with the publishing of his famous book “A Brief History of Time.”

Hawking also had a major presence in pop culture, appearing on shows like “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “The Simpsons,”  “The Big Bang Theory,” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”

In 2014, his career and his relationship with his former wife, Jane, became the basis of the film “The Theory of Everything.” Redmayne’s depiction of Hawking as his body began to fail while his scientific career took off earned him the Oscar for Best Actor, while the film earned four additional nominations including Best Picture.

Hawking’s body will be cremated, with his ashes being interred at Westminster Abbey near the grave of Sir Isaac Newton.