16 Jun 2023

Acting Masterclass with Geoffrey Rush

Geoffrey Rush, one of only 24 actors who can take pride in the ultimate acting accolade, the so-called Triple Crown of Acting (Oscar, Emmy, and Tony Awards), held yesterday a masterclass for actors, students, and industry professionals. The Australian actor spoke about the importance of an actor's collaboration with design, make-up and costume departments using examples from his own career in theatre and film, from his role in Eugène Ionesco's Exit the King to his role as Captain Barbossa in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. 

A confidence boost came when Rush recounted how, for the anthology miniseries Genius, producers initially didn't want to cast him as Albert Einstein. The actor and his daughter then printed out and superimposed a photograph of himself with one of Einstein, trying to imagine what the possible change would look like. Drawing the physicist's ruffled hair and moustache, Rush told himself that if he could keep 30% of who he was going to play, he'd have made a good part - and he was right. The actor also talked about how it's important to take certain risks and not say “no” right away. He had originally turned down an offer to play Captain Barbossa in The Curse of the Black Pearl, sending his agent a four-page letter with reasons why he'd rather do an indie film, not fitting into the Disney character. In the end, he was persuaded to at least audition once, and he doesn't regret it: while trying on one of the costumes, he found the character, and the hat gave him the confidence to play the now-iconic character.

Last but not least, Rush talked about how applying make-up and adjusting costumes works for him as a meditation process that even helps him identify with the characters; it's a ritual he's been practicing since his early days in theatre, when he played matinee shows.