There’s only room for one British Genius in this town, and last night, The Theory of Everything‘s Eddie Redmayne was our British Genius of choice, besting his rival and fellow countryman Benedict Cumberbatch at the Golden Globes. It’s time to lie back and think of England, as we put the two actors together in a mano-a-mano battle of dreaminess, Britishness, dapperness, and geniusness, all on the road to their one true love: that little gold statue named Oscar.
You could be forgiven for thinking that both Eddie Redmayne (previously known for frog-voicing his way through Les Miserables, recorded live, don’t you know) and Benedict Cumberbatch (the man who inspired 1,000 Cumberbitches online! Sherlock himself! The dream of dreams! Fanfiction in an ill-fitting suit!) are the same British genius.
Perhaps a useful portmanteau is needed to refer to one, either, or the two — Cumbermayne? Will one man need to snuff out the other in order to get future roles that require a handsome-ish British man who can convey a familiarity with books, reading, and intelligence? Hollywood is merciless in the way that it pits actresses against each other — a younger one always coming in to take down the older one, you come at the Queen, you best not miss — and it’s almost refreshing to see the ways that Redmayne and Cumberbatch blur together on the awards circuit.
It’s easy to imagine a world where your eyes blur when it comes to Beddie Redmaynbatch, where the two men cancel each other out as their feats of acting occurred during the same year. But despite the fact that these two actors are the same British man, playing what amounts to the same tragic story of British genius, and, inexplicably, friends IRL, it appears, only one — just one! — can go home with the little golden guy in a month. Who’s it going to be? Here’s the definitive Cumberbatch/Redmayne deathmatch!
Who’s the more fancy British man?
Redmayne, 33, went to Eton, and was a classmate of young Prince William. They were even on the same rugby team. He then studied the history of art at Cambridge. Cumberbatch, 38, attended boarding school from the age of eight. He also played rugby, and he was called “the best schoolboy actor” by a former teacher. He studied drama at the University of Manchester and got an MA at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic art.
Winner: Redmayne, for getting to hang out in the locker room during Prince William: the hot years.
Who has the more sterling personal life?
In November 2014, Cumberbatch disappointed his large online fanbase by announcing his engagement to Sophie Hunter in The Times. Redmayne did his rival one better in December, marrying his longtime girlfriend Hannah Bagshawe in a small, private ceremony. He is discussing the pleasures of marriage in the January 2015 issue of Glamour. Not to be outdone, in January, Cumberbatch announced that Hunter was pregnant, and that they were expecting a child together. Don’t doubt for a second that this personal life stuff was exquisitely timed to endear each man to the Oscar voters.
Winner: Cumberbatch, for both classiness of announcement AND the ultimate commitment of a beautiful child.
Who has better acting bona fides?
Both men have been well regarded in theatre and television. Redmayne won a Tony for his role in the Mark Rothko play Red, while Cumberbatch’s role in the BBC’s Sherlock revival brought him worldwide fame, and further experience playing the smartest guy in the room.
Winner: Does a Tony overcome an internet army? In this case, no: Cumberbatch.
Who’s a genuine man of science? (Round one)
Fun fact: they’ve both played Stephen Hawking! Cumberbatch did so in a BBC Two film called Hawking from 2004, and Redmayne followed in 2014 for The Theory of Everything. Both have worn the glasses, both have received stellar reviews. But out of the two, only Cumberbatch has gone on to play another great British man of science, Alan Turing in The Imitation Game.
Winner: Cumberbatch can be credible explaining the world through physics and also explaining how computers work. Advantage Cumberbatch, for range.
Who’s a genuine man of science? (Round two)
Both The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything are classic, boilerplate biopic hackery. The films’ reviews are middling-to-good, but the acting has mostly received raves. Cumberbatch persuades the audience of his intelligence and his brilliance, code breaking during World War II, stripped of the nuance of the character being persecuted as a gay man due to the film’s 1950s take on sexuality. Redmayne shows the deterioration of Stephen Hawking’s body while his mind remains a beautifully cut diamond, and the pain in between the decline. Hawking may still be alive, but the film does, in its way, follow a birth-and-death structure, as his life changes forever with the advent of his disease.
Winner: Redmayne, since his film is less insulting.
Most importantly: who’s hotter?
Both Redmayne and Cumberbatch are possessed of a beauty that may be described in one word, and that’s British-ish, I guess. It’s a genuine mystery as to whether they are attractive actors if you’re possessed of eyes and vision; however, if you are the sort that finds posh, plummy British accents cute, sure, they’re hot. But it really depends on the angle and the lighting. Take, for example, these two “hot” photos:
Versus these two regular dudes just hanging out:
Winner: tie? Sometimes Cumberbatch looks like an otter, and sometimes Redmayne models sweaters like the baddest bitch auditioning for a Little Orphan Annie revival.
And the winner is… Cumberbatch, in a 4:3 squeaker! As there can only be one British Genius, he has every right to banish Redmayne from awards season 2015.