LONDON - Cosmologist Stephen Hawking tells the extraordinary tale of how he overcame severe disability to become the most famous living scientist in a new documentary film premiered in Britain on Thursday.
"This film is a personal journey through my life," the 71-year-old Briton said in the trailer to "Hawking", which he co-wrote and narrated in his distinctive, computer-generated voice.
He adds: "I have lived five decades longer than doctors predicted. I have tried to make good use of my time."
The film tells in Hawking's own words and those of his family and friends how a bright student with a fondness for partying became a pre-eminent physicist who has helped unlock the secrets of the universe, from the Big Bang to black holes.
He brought the wonders of the cosmos to millions of people through his lectures and bestselling book, "A Brief History of Time", becoming a household name who even starred in "The Simpsons".
All this was achieved despite being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neurone disease, when he was just 21, and being told he had only a few years to live.
"Although I have been successful in my work, my life has had its fair share of challenges," Hawking says.
The film goes back to Hawking's childhood and his student days before the ALS began to attack the nerves controlling his voluntary movement, confining him to a wheelchair and forcing him to speak through a machine.