"I walk around talking to myself in accents," Eddie Redmayne admits. "Usually people look at me like I'm a complete fruit loop." The 29-year-old London native isn't crazy, just determined to get his characters' voices right. Most recently, he mastered a Texas-meth-head twang for the upcoming dark comedy Hick; now he's working on his Elizabethan English for the title role in Richard II at London's Donmar Warehouse. Redmayne's freckles and pouty lips (which landed him a gig as a Burberry model), combined with his lithe, boyish energy, have led to numerous roles as conflicted young naïfs: He was the neglected offspring of Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie in Robert De Niro's CIA saga The Good Shepherd, his big-screen debut, and Julianne Moore's petulant son in the incest drama Savage Grace. Last year, he earned a Tony for his role in the Broadway play Red as an apprentice who challenges the Abstract Expressionist great Mark Rothko. Redmayne's knack for balancing innocence and ambition has made him an increasingly hot casting commodity: Witness his starring turn in this month's My Week With Marilyn, about an eager production assistant who has a brief fling with Marilyn Monroe, played by a platinum-haired Michelle Williams. Redmayne says his character's star-struck infatuation came naturally. "Dawson's Creek," he recalls, "was deeply moving stuff."

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