The Theory of Everything star (and Oscar nominee!) gets intimate in PEOPLE's exclusive video

By Aili Nahas
Updated February 13, 2015 01:45 PM
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Credit: Peggy Sirota

Before Eddie Redmayne was hobnobbing with A-listers and attending glitzy red carpet events, he was a waiter in England, where an embarrassing incident motivated him to change his career path entirely.

“I was at the British Soap Awards,” the Theory of Everything actor reveals in a personal interview with PEOPLE. “I was [holding] a tray with a load of champagne glasses on it and this guy put this one glass on top of all the others and the whole tray smashed. That was a low but it kind of galvanized me. I said, ‘All right, I’m going to become a decent actor so I don’t have to experience this again.’ ”

Luckily, Redmayne’s charm and talent (his first role was as Urchin #43 in Oliver!), ultimately got him his dream job, a fact he’s still getting used to. “I feel incredibly lucky,” says the first-time Oscar nominee. “I’m trying to photograph in my mind all the memories so when I’m older we can look back.”

And the multitalented actor (he’s also a gifted pianist who played for crew at the video shoot) is practical about not being able to please all the critics. “In England we have this spread called Marmite. You either love it or you hate it. I’m learning to trust the notion of subjectivity!”

For more from PEOPLE’s annual Oscar portfolio, pick up the newest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

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