19 user 2 critic

Hawking (2004)

A drama documenting the life and work of the theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking who, despite being diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of 21, has galvanized the ... See full summary »


Philip Martin


Peter Moffat
4,831 ( 622)
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »


Learn more

More Like This 

Painted with Words (TV Movie 2010)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

The story of Vincent Van Gogh, with dialogue sourced from his own words.

Director: Andrew Hutton
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Jamie Parker, Aidan McArdle
Hawking (2013)
Documentary | Biography | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Hawking is the extraordinary story of the planet's most famous living scientist, told for the first time in his own words and by those closest to him. Made with unique access to Hawking's ... See full summary »

Director: Stephen Finnigan
Stars: Stephen Hawking, Arthur Pelling, Finlay Macrae
Little Favour (2013)
Short | Action | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A short film starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Salmon and Nick Moran. LITTLE FAVOUR follows the story of WALLACE (Benedict Cumberbatch) when he is contacted by a former colleague to help... See full summary »

Director: Patrick Viktor Monroe
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Salmon, Nick Moran
Wreckers (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A married couple moves back to its childhood village to start a family, but a surprise visit from the husband's brother ignites sibling rivalry and exposes lies embedded in the couple's ... See full summary »

Director: Dictynna Hood
Stars: Claire Foy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Shaun Evans
Third Star (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

James and his three closest lifelong friends go on an ill-advised trip to the stunning coastal area of Barafundle Bay in West Wales. What follows is a touching and comical adventure dealing with friendship, heroism and love.

Director: Hattie Dalton
Stars: Tom Burke, Benedict Cumberbatch, JJ Feild
Fortysomething (TV Mini-Series 2003)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Paul Slippery (Hugh Laurie), a forty-something doctor, lives with his wife Estelle and three sex-obsessed sons Rory, Daniel and Edwin in the west London suburb of Putney. On top of coping ... See full summary »

Stars: Hugh Laurie, Anna Chancellor, Sheila Hancock
Drama | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Britain has been transformed into a security state. A mathematical genius's search for the truth about his brother's death catapults him into a conspiracy and a love affair.

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Anamaria Marinca, Max Beesley


Cast overview, first billed only:
Benedict Cumberbatch ... Stephen Hawking
Michael Brandon ... Arno Penzias
Tom Hodgkins Tom Hodgkins ... Robert Wilson
Christian Rubeck ... Reporter (as Christian Pedersen)
Lisa Dillon ... Jane Wilde
Phoebe Nicholls ... Isobel Hawking
Matthew Marsh ... Dr. John Holloway
Anastasia Hille ... Nurse Susan McClean
Adam Godley ... Frank Hawking
Peter Firth ... Sir Fred Hoyle
Rohan Siva Rohan Siva ... Jayant Narlikar
Bertie Carvel ... George Ellis
Tom Ward ... Roger Penrose
Deirdre Costello Deirdre Costello ... Barmaid
John Sessions ... Dennis Sciama


A drama documenting the life and work of the theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking who, despite being diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of 21, has galvanized the scientific world with his ground-breaking work on the nature of the universe. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The story of the search for the beginning of time.


Biography | Drama


TV-G | See all certifications »






Release Date:

13 April 2004 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Hawking See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

16:9 PAL
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Benedict Cumberbatch is the first actor ever to play Stephen Hawking on screen in this film. He is also good friends with Eddie Redmayne, who played Hawking in the biopic The Theory of Everything (2014). See more »


Stephen Hawkin on his 21st Birthday mentions the Beatles song Please Please Me this song was not released until the 11th January 1963 two days after Hawkins,s 21st Birthday. See more »


Stephen Hawking: What about the brain, I mean the brain itself?
Dr. John Holloway: Untouched. The brain is left untouched.
See more »


Version of The Theory of Everything (2014) See more »


Ride of the Valkyries
Written by Richard Wagner
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A brief history of Hawking

'Hawking', which I saw recently on BBC2, is a fictionalised telefilm biography of physicist Stephen Hawking ... known to Homer Simpson as 'that wheelchair guy'. (Hawking is also the only person ever to make a guest appearance *as himself* in an episode of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'.) Some modern-day public figures are so well-known -- in vocal patterns and physical appearance -- that any actor's attempt to portray them on screen must be to some extent a physical impersonation. A depiction of Hawking presents unusual opportunities and challenges. Firstly, audiences have no idea what Hawking's speaking voice sounded like, as he did not become a public figure until the progressive degenerative disease which afflicts him (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS) had worsened to the point that he now 'speaks' with the aid of an electronically-generated voice that makes him sound like a Dalek. In the early scenes of 'Hawking', before Hawking acquires ALS, actor Benedict Cumberbatch (great name!) speaks in a cultured voice that is certainly appropriate to the character he plays on screen, if not the actual Hawking.

More problematic is the physical portrayal, as we're aware that an 'able' actor is portraying a disabled person: if Cumberbatch's rendition of Hawking's symptoms is accurate, inevitably some audience members will accuse him of overacting. This is a no-win situation, which would have daunted any non-disabled actor in such a role.

Cumberbatch is appealing and charismatic (more so than the real Hawking) in the early sequences, leading up to when Hawking first experiences tremors at age 21. There's an awkward scene in a jazz club, that could have degenerated into self-parody. We see Hawking, physically challenged but not yet incapacitated, watching enviously while others dance. Awkwardly, he rises and attempts to join in. (By all accounts, Hawking was socially uncoordinated long before he was physically so.) Cumberbatch gives as much dignity as possible to a portrayal which we recognise as that of a graceful actor depicting a man who has both social and neurological disabilities.

The portrayals of some of the other real-life figures are not very well-thought. I knew Sir Fred Hoyle, and the actor who portrays him here is neither especially accurate nor especially credible in his portrayal ... except for the scene re-enacting the famous incident when Hawking denounced Hoyle's latest theory in the auditorium of the Royal Society. Roger Penrose, the developer of tile theory, is played here as an absent-minded boffin who witters away at the public bar without remembering that he'd meant to order a pint.

The most ludicrous scene (a fictitious incident?) occurs when Hawking is in a railway compartment with a woman who can talk the hind leg off a donkey, prompting Hawking to suddenly imagine Time reversing itself. This scene appears to be inspired by a sequence in 'A Beautiful Mind', but that film depicted scientific inspiration much more cleverly than is done here.

Cumberbatch is quite good in the early scenes, yet he gets even better in the later scenes as Hawking's ALS takes its toll on his body. Inevitably, Cumberbatch's role gravitates into Lon Chaney territory, yet his portrayal is so deft that it never quite tips over into histrionics. The period detail and production design are impeccable throughout.

SLIGHT SPOILER NOW. There is an awkward framing device, reminiscent of several Tom Stoppard plays or Michael Frayn's 'Copenhagen', yet less effective than either. We see two Nobel laureates giving a TV interview, discussing a noise they've discovered, which turns out to be the background microwave radiation that fills the universe ... the leftover sound of the Big Bang. (Fred Hoyle invented that term, but intended it derisively: he rejected the Big Bang theory which is now widely accepted.)

I'll rate 'Hawking' 8 out of 10, as a flawed but excellent attempt to depict a difficult biographical subject who is involved in a field that audiences don't readily comprehend. ALS, the disease that crippled Stephen Hawking, is known in America as Lou Gehrig's disease, in honour(?) of the baseball player whose brilliant career and promising life were ended by it. Lou Gehrig's story was told brilliantly in 'Pride of the Yankees', but that great film remained very shadowy and nebulous about the terrible disease at the centre of its story. 'Hawking' does not pull such punches, and I recommend this excellent bio-pic.

31 of 35 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 19 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

IMDb Freedive: Watch Movies and TV Series for Free

Watch Hollywood hits and TV favorites for free with IMDb Freedive. Start streaming on IMDb and Fire TV devices today!

Start watching

Recently Viewed