16 Jun 2023

Geoffrey Rush, unmatched

Known especially for his eccentric roles in both films and TV series, as well as in theater productions, Geoffrey Rush is one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation. He honed his skills in Paris, where he studied mime with Jacques Lecoq, and spent two decades performing on the Australian stage before one of his first major film roles, in Shine (dir. Scott Hicks, 1996), exposed his talent to the world. As David Helfgott, the genius pianist who suffers a devastating nervous breakdown but manages to save himself through a miracle, Rush is memorable. The performance he delivers here is also a miracle – for anyone who has seen it, there is no doubt as to why it brought the Australian actor an Oscar and numerous other top awards, as well as international fame.

Subsequently, as expected, his career exploded. To date, he has taken on over 50 roles, three of which earned him Oscar nominations, all for portraying historical figures: Philip Henslowe, the debt-ridden theater manager in Shakespeare in Love (dir. John Madden, 1999); the Marquis de Sade in the biographical drama Quills (dir. Philip Kaufman, 2000), based on the play of the same name by Doug Wright; and Lionel Logue, the speech therapist who helped King George VI with his speech impediment in The King's Speech (dir. Tom Hooper, 2010). The first and the last also won the Best Picture awards – a testament to the meticulously chosen scripts.

Rush also won an Emmy Award for his role as the protagonist in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (dir. Stephen Hopkins, 2004), an adaptation of Roger Lewis's book about the life of the actor known for the iconic comedy The Party, and for his portrayal of Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther series. He also won a Tony Award in 2009 for playing the dying monarch Berenger I in the absurdist play Exit the King by Romanian-born playwright Eugène Ionesco, thus achieving the ultimate recognition an actor can be proud of, the so-called Triple Crown of Acting (Oscar-Emmy-Tony). He is one of only 24 actors in the world who have achieved this hat-trick, and his gallery of awards also includes two Golden Globes and three BAFTA Awards. Geoffrey Rush is also part of the Pirates of the Caribbean universe, where he portrayed Captain Hector Barbossa, the main antagonist of the franchise.

His roles often require his expressive face and distinct voice, and his approach to acting owes much to the traditions of physical theater – his presence becomes central to the films he appears in. His ability to tackle every challenge with the same dedication only attests to his remarkable qualities. An actor on the level of Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro, Geoffrey Rush doesn't just embody the character he plays, he becomes it.

The actor will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the closing ceremony of TIFF.22, which will take place tomorrow, on June 17th, at 9:00 PM at the National Theater, and tonight he will be present at the screening of Shine, which will begin at 7:00 PM at the Student Culture House.