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‘We Have Lost a Truly Beautiful Mind.’ Actor Eddie Redmayne Pens Emotional Tribute to Stephen Hawking

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Actor Eddie Redmayne, who played renowned physicist Stephen Hawking in 2014’s The Theory of Everything, offered a touching tribute to the late scientist, who died Wednesday at age 76.

“We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet,” Redmayne said in a statement provided to Deadline. “My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family.”

Redmayne met Hawking just five days before he began shooting his Oscar-winning portrayal of the legendary physicist and bestselling author, who was diagnosed with ALS at age 21, but still went on to become one of the world’s best-known and most beloved scientific minds while battling the neurodegenerative disease for more than 50 years. Hawking later praised Redmayne’s turn in the film.

“Well done Eddie,” Hawking wrote on Facebook after Redmayne’s 2015 Oscar win. “I’m very proud of you.”

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Write to Jamie Ducharme at jamie.ducharme@time.com