Geoffrey Rush ‘Shines’ on the Red Carpet for The Book Thief and chats with Sarah Knight Adamson about his film career and the role that changed his life.
Fans turned out in large numbers to get a glimpse of Geoffrey Rush walking the Red Carpet this past Tuesday evening, October 22, 2013. Rush was at the AMC River East Theater in Chicago to promote his new film The Book Thief, which was being shown as part of the Chicago International Film Festival. Rush took Hollywood by storm after his riveting performance in the film Shine, as real-life pianist extraordinaire, David Helfgott, who had suffered a mental breakdown and spent years in institutions. Rush earned an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1997 for the portrayal. He has appeared in all of the Pirates of the Caribbean films and he has most recently worked alongside Colin Firth as the ingenious speech therapist in The King’s Speech.
Rush, a very tall, likeable guy with an Australian accent, was delightful to speak with. Upon being introduced on the Red Carpet, he spoke with me about several of his roles and, of course, Shine. After the movie screening, he participated in a Q&A in which Kay Eller, a staff writer for Sarah’s Backstage Pass, attended. Kay remarked that she never imagined that Rush could be so witty and charming just playing himself. Fans of Rush will be in for a big treat with his new film The Book Thief, as his role as Hans Hubermann appears to be memorable as well.
SA: Hello, Geoffrey.
GR: Hi, Sarah, how are you?
SA: Great. It’s so wonderful to meet you. I’ve been a fan for so long and, as a former teacher, I find it fascinating that you’ve taught a king to speak properly in The King’s Speech and a little girl to read in The Book Thief. My question is (I realize that these are just roles), when you are immersed in these roles, do you ever have a feeling of satisfaction or perhaps pride in the characters’ accomplishments?
GR: When I look back at some of the roles I’ve done, I believe that I have “mentored” a lot of people; do you know what I mean?
SA: Oh, yes. I do, absolutely!
GR: I don’t play gangsters, cowboys, or cops…but along the way, I’ve mentored Frida Kahlo, Elizabeth I, and I guess you can say I’ve mentored royals…like George the VI. What was personally rather appealing to me was in Pirates 4, I worked with George II and I thought, “Oh great, I’ve ticked off another king!” (Laughing)
SA: (Laughing) Yes, I remember that and I loved that! You’ve had an amazing career and I’ll never forget your performance in Shine. What did you take away from that role?
GR: Well… (pause) the rest of my life really, as you know, it was a real game changer. I’d been in the theater a very long time and this role came along in a film and I didn’t think I was what film actors looked like or would be, and this was a role that I thought well, actually, I can connect with this.
SA: Oh, that is so fantastic!
GR: And…at the age of 45 or something, it just shot me off onto a completely different path.
SA: I want to thank you so much for speaking with me, and good luck with the film.
GR: Thank you!
Sarah Knight Adamson© October 28, 2013