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With a string of successes and a starring role in the month's big-screen interpretation of Les Misérables, Eddie Redmayne is poised to break out. 

It’s 5 p.m. in London, and Eddie Redmayne is surrounded by boxes waiting to be unpacked. He’s putting down roots in a new apartment, just months before the release of Les Misérables, the highly anticipated big-screen version of the same-named Victor Hugo novel and long-running play. Redmayne plays Marius Pontmercy, a soldier in 19th-century France, and joins a stellar cast that includes Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway.

In addition to learning how to fire and reload a musket, Redmayne’s technical preparation for the role involved extensive vocal training. “It was beyond nerve-wracking. It was terrifying, even for the guys who were my mates in the film and come from musical theater,” he remembers. “We recorded live, which gave us great freedom, but we had to do many takes, so it was hard on our voices.”

With Les Mis, Redmayne adds another credit to an already colorful career filled with period pieces like Birdsong and book adaptations like The Pillars of the Earth, along with numerous stage and Shakespeare productions. While he never saw Les Mis on Broadway, he made his own mark on the Great White Way in 2010 in Red, debuting as a studio assistant to Alfred Molina’s egomaniacal artist. His perform?ance earned him a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play. And in 2011, he became even more familiar to American audiences with his turn opposite three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn.One of five children, Redmayne grew up in London and began acting at age 12 in a theater rendition of Oliver! Having turned 30 this year, he admits his freckled, youthful countenance has, at times, been an impediment to landing more-mature roles. But he knows not to look a gift horse in the mouth. “I’m very lucky I get to play younger? parts for a while,” he offers, then laughs. “I’m sure that will change in an instant and I’ll go gray and suddenly look 80.”