Geoffrey Rush

Geoffrey Rush

Born in the small town of Toowoomba and raised in Brisbane, the tall, lanky Rush spent two years in Paris studying mime, movement and theater at the Ecole Jacques Lecoq, before returning Down Under to embark on his stage career. In 1979, he and future superstar Mel Gibson acted opposite one another in a Sydney production of Samuel Beckett's classic "Waiting for Godot" and shared an apartment. According to Gibson, "It was pretty desperate. We would sit on the floor and eat dinner and stuff. One of us used to drag in the occasional virgin and sacrifice her on a Friday night." Within ten years, Rush had established himself as a preeminent Australian thespian, receiving numerous awards in the title role of "The Diary of a Madman" in 1989 and subsequently delivering critically-regarded turns in "Uncle Vanya" and David Mamet's "Oleanna." He also directed frequently and exhibited his talents translating "The Government Inspector" (in which he starred) and adapting Aristophanes' "The Frogs."In contrast with his stage success, Rush's feature career moved at a slower pace. He made his debut as Detective 1 in "Hoodwink" (1981), starring Judy Davis, and had another bit role in Gillian Armstrong's gaudy musical comedy "Star Struck" (1982). But his first significant film role was as Sir Andrew Aguecheek in a problematic adaptation of "Twelfth Night" (1986). His first lead came as the oldest son of Leo McKern and Joan Sutherland in "Dad and Dave - On Our Selection" (1995), a comedy about a turn-of-the-century family living in the Australian bush which also featured "Shine" co-star Noah Taylor. Rush also appeared in support of Davis and Sam Neill in Peter Duncan's wild political satire "Children of the Revolution" the same year that he burst into the public's consciousness in "Shine." To capture Helfgott's clash of chaos and calm, he immersed himself in the pianist's loopy ramblings captured on tape and he resumed piano lessons - suspended when he was 14 - in order to play portions of the classical repertoire. It may have been Helfgott on the soundtrack, but it was Rush's fingers - not a stand-in's - playing onscreen.Although "Shine" was a tough act to follow, Rush chose dark and driven supporting roles that complemented his unconventional looks, turning in three outstanding performances in 1998. In Billie August's retelling of Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables," he avoided playing the dogged Inspector Javert (to Liam Neeson's Jean Valjean) as an outright villain, stressing instead the self-inflicted torture of a man fighting his own demons. As Sir Francis Walsingham, the mysterious Master of Spies, in "Elizabeth," starring Cate Blanchett, he kept the audience guessing about his loyalties, and as the Bard's "scabby little theatrical producer," he got to recite some of the catchiest quips of "Shakespeare in Love" and picked up a second Academy Award nomination, this time for Best Supporting Actor.After marking time in box office duds like "Mystery Men" (1999) and "The House on Haunted Hill" (1999), Rush received some of the best reviews of his career playing the sadistic Marquis de Sade in "Quills" (2000). Preening and prancing about like a decadent 18th-century rock star, Rush turned de Sade into a charming, wickedly humorous but quite intelligent creature. Although some critics questioned the choice of casting, most felt that Rush was superlative in the role and he earned another Oscar nomination for Best Actor. He followed with another literary-based character, playing the title role in "The Tailor of Panama" (2001), adapted from John Le Carre's spy novel. As the Cockney ex-con turned clothing maker, Rush found another role in which he could display his acting prowess and sharp comedic timing.Stardom had not really affected Rush, though, as he still willingly turns down high-salaried parts in favor of earning $600 a week on the boards back home in Australia, flabbergasting studio executives who cannot fathom that a no-money theater project would take priority over such important offers as theirs. As a result, Rush has enlivened independents like the critically-hailed Australian film "Lantana" (2001), playing the troubled John Knox, and "Frida" (2002) in which he plays the legendary figure Leon Trotsky, one of the lovers of artist Frida Kahlo. But Rush was not afraid of quirky roles in more commercial fare, taking on the role of Henry, the repressed, timorous writer whose life is enlivened by rock groupie Goldie Hawn in "The Banger Sisters" (2002), voicing Nigel the pelican in Disney/Pixar's "Finding Nemo" (2003) and a delightfully snarly turn as the vengeful, villainous Barbossa for Disney's film version of its beloved theme park attraction "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" (2003). He finished off the year with a brief, but finely measured turn as an outraged Hollywood producer who surprises his wife with the pool man (though they didn't have a pool) and turns to a hot shot divorce lawyer (George Clooney) in the Coen Brothers' screwball romantic comedy "Intolerable Cruelty" (2003). In "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" (2004), a made-for-cable biography on the strange life of the enigmatic and egotistical actor, Rush used all his talents to give an accurate and amusing performance. The result of his efforts earned Rush his second Golden Globe Award in 2005, this time for Best Actor in a television miniseries or movie. Rush continued to earn awards for his performance by snaring a 2005 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie. He rounded out the successful year with a perfectly measured performance as the Israeli official who "unofficially" assigned a Mossad operative (Eric Bana) to head up a covert team to exact retribution against the terrorists responsible for the slaying of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in director Steven Spielberg's masterful "Munich" (2005). Rush then made a cameo appearance in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" (2006), an energetic and worthy addition to the swashbuckling franchise. His cameo as Captain Barbossa toward the end of "Dead Man's Chest" set himself up to be a major character for the third installment, "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (2007). Meanwhile, Rush returned to the 16th century for a revival of master spy, Sir Francis Walsingham, in director Shekhar Kapur's second film about Queen Elizabeth, "The Golden Age" (2007), a look at the Virgin Queen three decades into her reign during a time of continued bloodlust for her throne, the lingering threat of familial betrayal, and her unexpectedly vulnerable and ultimately destructive love affair with Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen). The following year, Rush appeared as himself in the ecological activist documentary "Whaledreamers" (2008), examining a little known tribal culture and its relationship with these majestic "Mothers of the Sea." After a brief - and rare - one year absence from the screen, Rush return with a flourish in not one, but three major motion picture projects. He provided the voice of Ezylryb for the visually arresting, but commercially disappointing animated adventure, "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole" (2010), directed by Zach Snyder. That fall Rush delivered a bravura performance as Lionel Logue, an eccentric speech therapist enlisted to cure a stammering and recently crowned King George VI of his embarrassing impediment in "The King's Speech" (2010). The film was a favorite among critics, while Rush earned yet more accolades, including Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor. He finished out the season on a less stellar note, with the box office dud "The Warrior's Way" (2010), a ninjas vs. cowboys actioner that had sat on the shelf for two years before its eventual release. Rush pulled on his buccaneer boots once more as Barbossa for "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (2011), this time joined by fellow pirates Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane on a quest to find the legendary Fountain of Youth. Rush pulled on his buccaneer boots once more as Barbossa for "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (2011), this time joined by fellow pirates Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane on a quest to find the legendary Fountain of Youth. Returning to his native Australia, he co-starred in the drama, "The Eye of the Storm" (2012), which focused on a dying monarch (Charlotte Rampling) still wielding considerable control over everyone around her.