Eddie Redmayne as you’ve never seen him before

HE IS now one of the world’s best-known actors, basking in the glory of scooping the top award at the Oscars.

Tuesday, 24th February 2015, 10:28 am
Eddie Redmayne, far right, in the cast of Cabaret at the 2001 Edinburgh Fringe. Picture: Neil Hanna

But Eddie Redmayne’s Scots grandmother remembers him demonstrating his immense talent for the profession 14 years ago – when he performed in a Fringe show at the Edinburgh Festival as a teenager.

Mary Burke, 91, recalled one of Redmayne’s earliest major shows at the Fringe when he played one of the lead roles in the musical Cabaret.

The 33-year-old won the best actor Oscar for his performance as Professor Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, beating competition from the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Keaton.

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Eddie Redmayne, far right, in the cast of Cabaret at the 2001 Edinburgh Fringe. Picture: Neil Hanna

Mrs Burke said of his 2001 Fringe performance at the Underbelly in the Cowgate: “I saw him, but I didn’t recognise him. He was wearing so much make-up.”

Speaking from her home in the Gracemount area of Edinburgh, Mrs Burke said the show cemented the expectation that Redmayne would become a successful actor.

“It wasn’t so much that we could see he was a promising actor, just that he was an actor, it was as simple as that,” she said. “He was always performing, even as a young boy.”

Redmayne has previously credited his acting success to the Fringe performance in the early years of the Underbelly, saying the “grotty, grimy venue” was where he “really got the bug” for acting.

Mrs Burke told The Scotsman that her “close knit family” was “thrilled” that Redmayne – one of six grandchildren – had won the accolade.

“I’m delighted, absolutely delighted,” she said. “It was a lot of hard work for him preparing for [the role]. I have been watching the coverage of the Oscars on and off all day, I’m very proud. His grandfather would have been very proud too.”

Mrs Burke is the mother of Patricia Redmayne, Eddie’s mother who studied at the University of Edinburgh before moving to London and marrying Richard Redmayne. Mrs Redmayne runs a relocation business while her husband is a London city banker.

Ed Bartlam, director of the Underbelly, said Redmayne’s Fringe performance in Cabaret still “stuck in his head”, 14 years on.

“It was our second year at Underbelly so we were very much finding our feet and it was all very atmospheric,” he said.

“Eddie was a slightly creepy Master of Ceremonies in the show and would come up behind people’s backs in the audience and get a fantastic reaction.”

The show was performed by Doubled Edged Drama, a production company with links to Eton, Redmayne’s former school.

“He had left Eton by then and this was one of his first performances, and I’m sure his first Fringe performance,” said Mr Bartlam.

“I still remember it as one of the best shows we ever did.

“Eddie also had a lot of love for performing at the Fringe and still keeps in touch occasionally to see how we’re getting on.”

Redmayne, the eighth-youngest star to win the best actor Oscar, thanked his family in an emotional acceptance speech at the glittering ceremony in Los Angeles, where he also paid tribute to Prof Hawking and his family. The academic suffers from motor neurone disease, known also in the US as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

“I don’t think I’m capable of articulating how I feel right now. I am fully aware that I am a lucky, lucky man,” he said. “This Oscar belongs to all of those people around the world battling ALS. It belongs to one exceptional family – Stephen, Jane and the Hawking children.”

He added: “Finally, this is extraordinary, I just want to thank my family and you, Hannah, my wife. I love you so much.”