Tribute to Geoffrey Rush 

Geoffrey Rush

“You as an actor are the instrument and you have to know how to play with that.”


Exactly twenty-five years ago, Geoffrey Rush appeared on the screens of the Karlovy Vary festival as David Helfgott, a talented pianist whose distinctive personality went against established, conventional norms of behavior, in the gripping drama Shine. For Czech audiences, it was probably the first encounter with this already well-respected representative of Australia’s theater scene, who after the age of forty conquered the world of cinema with his typical nonchalance.

That Shine would be the beginning of a more than memorable mission is reflected by the many awards that Geoffrey Rush earned for his performance in Scott Hicks’s film, above all a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe, and an Oscar for Best Actor. Today, this much admired emissary of Australian film and theater, who has earned dozens of additional trophies and three more Academy Award nominations, is firmly entrenched in the global consciousness as a phenomenal and multifaceted actor capable of compellingly conveying the often surprising contradictions inherent to his characters.

The difficulty of meeting this challenge is only heightened by the fact that Rush, much more than many of his colleagues, tends to portray people who actually existed, including Lionel Logue, the speech therapist who helped King George VI successfully conquer his stutter (The King’s Speech), the revolutionary Leon Trotsky (Frida), the aristocrat and controversial author Marquis de Sade (Quills), one of the most beloved comic actors of the twentieth century (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers), sculptor and painter Alberto Giacometti (Final Portrait), and Albert Einstein (Genius). And in the near future, we can look forward to his portrayal of the legendary Groucho Marx.

Generalizations are always tricky, especially when talking about such an original actor. And yet, period films and costume dramas whose stories are set in worlds different from our own clearly represent a challenge that Rush enjoys revisiting again and again. Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth, Les Misérables, and Pirates of the Caribbean – no costume is too alien, and his elegant, universal, and truly captivating acting style can without exaggeration be described as timeless.

One of Rush’s compatriots once said of him that the stage is his home and film is the country he likes to visit with a visa, only to come back to the stage. His homeland has long appreciated these constant returns, as evidenced by the fact that in 2011 Rush was made the first president of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts and a year later he was named Australian of the Year.

Karel Och

  • The King's Speech Králova řeč / The King's Speech
    Directed by: Tom Hooper
    United Kingdom, USA, Australia, 2010, 118 min

    After the abdication of his older brother Edward, Prince Albert ascends the throne as King George VI. The Second World War is on the horizon and the country needs a strong leader, however, the introverted Bertie, who suffers from a speech impediment, is something of a joke to the public. His wife Elizabeth sets up a meeting with Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an eccentric speech therapist, thanks to whom the king manages to overcome his stammer and ultimately forges a close friendship with him.

  • Quills Quills – Perem markýze de Sade / Quills
    Directed by: Philip Kaufman
    United Kingdom, Germany, 2000, 119 min

    A drama with an all-star cast portraying the last years of the perverse aristocrat, the Marquis de Sade, dominated by a riveting performance from Geoffrey Rush as the eccentric, obsessive, and yet likeable author, to whom writing means everything. When the Marquis manages to get his scandalous texts out of the insane asylum and on to a publisher, the state summons the cruel psychiatrist Royer-Collard to silence him for good.

  • Shine Záře / Shine
    Directed by: Scott Hicks
    Australia, 1996, 105 min

    The lives of extraordinary yet severely tested geniuses are fascinating in and of themselves, but director Scott Hicks managed to lift this tale of an unnaturally talented pianist to another level. Based on a true story with an almost fatalistic dimension, the film’s message is further underscored by its unforgettable performances, in particular, by Geoffrey Rush and Armin Mueller-Stahl.


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