Actor Geoffrey Rush turns 70

Oscar, Emmy, and Tony winner

ShineAlthough I’ve seen or heard the actor Geoffrey Rush in a number of movies, I always associate him with one. And no, it’s not Pirates of the Caribbean.

It’s Shine, from 1996. IMDB notes: “Pianist David Helfgott, driven by his father and teachers, has a breakdown. Years later he returns to the piano, to popular if not critical acclaim.”

Rush won the Oscar for Best Actor. The film received several other nominations, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Dramatic Score. I bought the CD of the score; it is recommended.

Sometimes, it’s one movie that propels a performer from a working professional to someone who people can recognize by name. But I know almost nothing about the man’s life, other than he’s from Australia.

Again, from IMDB: He was born “in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, to Merle (Bischof), a department store sales assistant, and Roy Baden Rush, an accountant for the Royal Australian Air Force. His mother was of German descent and his father had English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry. He was raised in Brisbane, Queensland after his parents split up…”

“He performed in theater for a number of years… Film-goers finally began taking notice of Geoffrey after his performance in Children of the Revolution (1996).

“This led to THE role of a lifetime as the highly dysfunctional piano prodigy David Helfgott in Shine (1996). Rush’s astonishing tour-de-force performance won him every conceivable award imaginable, including the Oscar, Golden Globe, British Film Award, and Australian Film Institute Award.”

After SHINE

“Shine not only put Rush on the international film map but atypically on the Hollywood ‘A’ list as well. His rather homely mug…” Ouch. OK, he’s certainly not classically handsome, but…

His “completely charming, confident and captivating demeanor” allowed him to “more easily dissolve into a number of transfixing historical portrayals, notably his Walsingham in Elizabeth (1998) and Leon Trotsky in Frida (2002),” both of which I saw.

I’ve also appreciated his work in Shakespeare in Love (1998), for which he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor; Lantana (2001), a murder mystery; Finding Nemo (2003), voicing Nigel the seagull; and The King’s Speech (2010) as Lionel Logue.

“Rush’s intermittent returns to the stage have included productions of Marat-Sade, Uncle Vanya, Oleanna, Hamlet, and The Small Poppies. In 2009 he made his  Broadway debut in Exit the King,” written by Eugene Ionesco, co-starring Susan Sarandon, and co-adapted by Rush. He got a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance.

On television, he played Peter Sellers in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004) on HBO, for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award, meaning he’s won the acting Triple Crown.

“His marriage (since 1988) to Aussie classical actress Jane Menelaus produced daughter Angelica (1992) and son James (1995). Menelaus, who has also performed with the State Theatre of South Australia, has co-starred on stage with Rush… She also had featured roles in a few of his films, including Quills (2000) and The Eye of the Storm (2011).”

Geoffrey Rush is a successful, talented actor, who largely travels below the radar of a lot of people.