TWO budding young actors from Christchurch have been propelled into the spotlight after starring in the Oscar-tipped film about Stephen Hawking.

Oliver Payne, 10, and Finlay Wright-Stephens, nine, play the parts of Stephen Hawking’s children, Robert and Timothy, in the critically-acclaimed The Theory of Everything.

Both youngsters, who attend Bournemouth-based Swish of the Curtain theatre school, auditioned for director James Marsh.

Although they play brothers in the film, Oliver and Finlay, who attend The Priory School in Christchurch, portray their characters at different points in Hawking’s life, meaning they were not in a scene together.

The film follows the story of the renowned astrophysicist and is based on the memoir, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, by his former wife, Jane Hawking.

It deals with the relationship between the pair, his diagnosis of motor neuron disease and his success in physics. Initially both boys were pitched against each other for the same part of Robert but while Oliver was given this role, Finlay was then handed the task of playing Robert’s brother Timothy, aged eight.

Both boys attended the star-studded premiere in London, taking the momentous occasion in their stride.

Oliver’s father Jeremy Payne said: “When we went to the premiere it was huge; but Oliver was concerned about whether we got free popcorn.”

Oliver and Finlay described meeting Stephen Hawking as ‘cool’ and say Eddie Redmayne, who played the astrophysicist was ‘good fun’.

  • The boys will star in Swish of the Curtain’s Wizard of Oz at Bourne-mouth Pavilion from February 19 until February 21.

Party to celebrate success

A special party will be held for the boys at the Regent Centre in Christchurch to celebrate their success.

Family and friends will gather at the Christchurch theatre on February 1.

The film will be shown from Friday January 30 until Thursday February 5.