Eddie Redmayne fought Maisie Williams with a plastic spear to prep for Early Man

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Some stars take their research study really seriously.

Daniel Day-Lewis, for instance, recreated a couture Balenciaga dress to get ready for Phantom Thread. And when it came time for Eddie Redmayne to depict an animated caveman called Dug in Early Man, he was all set to go complete Neanderthal in his preparation along with costar Maisie Williams.

“Maisie Williams and I went down to Bristol, where Aardman [Animations] are, and got dressed up as cave people in  massive cave suits and stabbed each other with plastic spears,” he informs EW.

Redmayne compares Aardman’s stop-motion studio to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. “It’s the most extraordinary place,” he states. “[They have] all these stunning sets that are colorful and vibrant and lifelike, and yet they’re miniscule. And then they have a whole area that’s just the characters’ mouths — like hundreds of thousands of different versions of Dug’s mouth with different expressions. … But they also have this zone which is where the animators go up and get dressed up in huge caveman outfits and film themselves playing the characters, so they can then model from that.”

Though his spirited session with Williams was the only time Redmayne got deep into exactly what he ‘d refer to as “research” into early guy, he likewise needed to tackle his initial voice acting function. “It’s weirdly much more physical than I expected,” he states. “Because you’re trying to channel all of the character’s traits into just your voice, which, for me, meant that I sort of put my back out and do weird things with my arms.”

Redmayne’s natural speaking voice has actually been changed by a somewhat various dialect and pitch. Discovering the best noise for Dug was a procedure of experimentation that mainly came from studying the look of the character. “He has a massive mouth, which conveniently I have, and huge eyes and kind of eternal optimism,” Redmayne describes. “So I fooled around for about an hour and a half with lots of different voices, but with really wide eyes and a wide mouth, and somehow ended up with that one. I wish I could say there was any more delicate a process, but it was just like throwing mud at a wall and then trying to sculpt it.”

For Redmayne, appearing in an Aardman production was a chance to be a part of a British cultural organization. “Aardman and Nick Park are such an organization in Britain. You matured viewing Wallis and Gromit and Chicken Run and those movies, and the Creature Comforts,” he states. “When I got the call, it was one of those slightly dreamlike moments.”

Still, Redmayne’s Early Man function was not without its obstacles. Specifically, properly pronouncing the name of Dug’s family pet pig, Hognob, a riff on the popular British cookies biscuits Hobnobs. “Because Hobnobs are one of my favorite biscuits, it took me a long while to be able to say Hognob,” Redmayne confesses. “I kept naming our Hognob after said chocolate biscuit.”

Early Man strikes theaters Feb. 16.

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