"The Theory of Everything" star Eddie Redmayne said a few words during the funeral of renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. The actor, who played the scientist on the big screen, read a Bible passage from Ecclesiastes in his send off for Hawking, who died on March 14.
At least five hundred invited guests heard Redmayne read Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 at the private service for Hawking at the St. Mary the Great, the Cambridge University church. A reception followed at the nearby Trinity College.
A colleague and astronomer Martin Rees, his student Professor Fay Dowker and son Robert Hawking also said a few words during the service. Actress Felicity Jones, who played Jane Hawking, the scientist's first wife in his biopic, was also in attendance to pay her last respects, alongside SpaceX founder Elon Musk, Queen band member Brian May, actress Anita Dobson and playwright Alan Bennet.
Rev. Cally Hammond from Cambridge University, where Hawking was a fellow in his 52 years as a physicist, officiated the funeral. Flags around the campus were at half-mast, while a large crowd gathered outside the church to honor the departed professor.
White lillies and roses decked Hawking's casket and the church bell rang 76 times during the funeral rites to represent the physicist's age. Hawking's remains will be cremated on June 15 and his ashes will be interred near Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin's remains at the Westminster Abbey, according to the BBC.
Redmayne, who won an Oscar for Best Actor for playing Hawking in 2015, was one of the first celebrities to honor the physicist when news of his death broke. In his statement to People, the actor said: "We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet. My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family."
Days after his death, reports online stated that Hawking, a well-known atheist, apparently declared his Christian faith and asked for a private audience with Pope Francis. Snopes, however, debunked the fake news that went viral on social media, citing that Hawking's photo with Pope Francis was taken from November 2016, during a meeting with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, where the professor was a member since 1968.