Stephen Hawking: Special Appearances 

A film on his life won an Oscar, and, through appearances in ads, TV series and songs, Stephen Hawking bridged the gap between science and popular culture

| Updated: March 15, 2018 5:22:08 am
Stephen Hawking at the UK premiere of The Theory of Everything Stephen Hawking with actor Felicity Jones, his ex-wife Jane and actor Eddie Redmayne, at the UK premiere of The Theory of Everything. (Source: AP)

Written by Express Features Service

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Hawking was the only actor in the Star Trek universe to play himself. Appearing in an episode in 1993, he plays poker with Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, and wins.

The Big Bang Theory

“Please let Professor Hawking know that I am available at his earliest convenience,” says the pompous Sheldon Cooper. Cue an appearance by the physicist on The Big Bang Theory, telling Sheldon, “I enjoyed reading your paper very much. You clearly have a brilliant mind,” before flooring him, literally, with “You made an arithmetic mistake on page two. It was quite a boner.” As Sheldon passes out of embarrassment, Hawking has the last word: “Oh great, another fainter.” Hawking appeared in seven episodes of The Big Bang Theory, including once to sing Happy birthday to Sheldon over Skype.

Keep Talking by Pink Floyd

Stephen Hawking’s electronic voice was used in Keep talking, which was a part of Pink Floyd’s Division Bell

In 1994, Stephen Hawking appeared in a BT advert and said: “Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this.” Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour would call it the most powerful ad pitch ever. He was so moved that he used Hawking’s words and his electronic voice for the track Keep talking that was a part of the band’s album, Division Bell.

A Brief History of Time

The 1988 tome hurtled to the bestseller lists as Hawking attempted to make a complex idea sound simple. The book made it to the Guinness Book of Records, sold millions of copies and was translated into 40 languages, even as it acquired another title, “The greatest unread book in history”.

The Simpsons

Stephen Hawking was a part of four episodes of The Simpsons.

Hawking was a part of four episodes of The Simpsons. In They Saved Lisa’s Brain, he appears in Springfield to check out the resident’s version of utopia and concludes that “sometimes the smartest of us can be the most childish”. He wows the residents — and the audience — with a wheelchair from which a gloved hand punches troublemakers, and which turns into a flying machine, with rotor blades, at the press of a button.

The Theory of Everything

Ten years before, Benedict Cumberbatch had essayed the scientist in Peter Moffat’s feature length BBC drama, titled Hawking, and met the scientist twice.

Eddie Redmayne won the Oscar for portraying Hawking and, holding the golden statuette at the 2014 Academy Awards for Best Actor, he said, “This Oscar belongs to all of those people around the world battling ALS. It belongs to one exceptional family.” Ten years before, Benedict Cumberbatch had essayed the scientist in Peter Moffat’s feature length BBC drama, titled Hawking, and met the scientist twice.

The Odd Advert

An ardent opera fan, Hawking used his extensive theories around the black hole in insurance company Go Compare’s ad, to send its annoying opera singer into another dimension. He has also been a part of a British Telecom commercial. In a Jaguar ad, he was visited by a friend who says to him, “We are the masters of time and space” only for Hawking to respond with, “And we all drive Jaguars” before letting out an evil guffaw.

The Voyage 

The American composer, Philip Glass, was commissioned to write an opera commemorating the 500th anniversary of Columbas’s arrival by the metropolitan Opera in 1992. Titled The Voyage, the piece’s prologue featured Hawking floating in a wheelchair and discussing black holes.

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