"We have lost a truly beautiful mind."
Eddie Redmayne owes a lot to Stephen Hawking.
In 2015, the 36-year-old actor earned his first Oscar for his portrayal of the scientist and professor in the biopic The Theory of Everything. Following news of Hawking's death on Tuesday evening, Redmayne released a heartfelt statement to ET, expressing his adoration for the 76-year-old theoretical physicist and bestselling author, while also offering up his condolences.
"We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet," he said. "My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family."
Anthony McCarten, the producer and writer of the Oscar-nominated film about Hawking's life, also shared a statement with ET. "Stephen Hawking’s life was devoted to wondering and to wonder," he said. "He was a molecular miracle, both physically and intellectually, and it was one of the great honors of my life to have met him, spent some time with him, and been his cinematic biographer. I will always remember his reaction to his first viewing of The Theory of Everything. As the lights rose in the private theater, his nurse wiped a tear from his cheek and he began to type -- a laborious process for him -- his verdict: 'Broadly true.'"
McCarten concluded, "His place in history is assured, for his pioneering work on understanding black holes and the early universe, but I will remember him for his bravery, his wit, and the object lesson he delivered every day, that life is what you make it. Travel well Steve, to your rightful place among the stars. I trust that in death you have fulfilled your life’s ambition, to know the mind of God."
In November 2014, when The Theory of Everything was just hitting theaters, ET had Redmayne and Felicity Jones -- who was also nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal Hawking's wife, Jane, in the film -- interview one another. It was here that Redmayne recalled how his nerves got the best of him upon first meeting the renowned scientist, who battled Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) since the age of 21 and on up to his death.
"I spent half an hour telling him about himself," he quipped. "It takes him a while to speak, so there were lots of pauses and silences. It got so bad that I was filling the air reminding him that he was born on the 8th of January, which is Galileo's birthday. And I said I was actually born on the 6th of January, so we're both Capricorns. When the world 'Capricorn' came out of my mouth, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so horrific in my life."
Redmayne remembers Hawking having the best response to this tidbit of information. "He spent 10 minutes typing something out, and said, 'I'm an astronomer not an astrologer.'"
Hawking was equally impressed with the actor's talent, and had some kind words for Redmayne after he won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
"Congratulations to Eddie Redmayne for winning an #Oscar for playing me in The Theory of Everything movie," he wrote on his Facebook page. "Well done Eddie, I'm very proud of you."
During his Oscars acceptance speech, Redmayne further praised Hawking and his family. "This belongs to all of those people around the world battling ALS. It belongs to one exceptional family: Stephen, Jane, Jonathan and the Hawking children," he declared. "I will be its custodian and I will promise you I will look after him. I will polish him. I will answer his beck and call. I will wait on him hand and foot."
Here's more on Hawking's life and legacy, and his reaction to seeing his life portrayed on the big screen: