One of the rarities in the film world is an actor who has their breakout role in middle age. Most actors start young, in their twenties, and work on their acting craft on the big screen until they eventually become the distinguished, middle-aged actor with plenty of critical accolades. Perhaps the reason we don’t see the breakout middle-aged stars is because it’s rare to have an actor refine and master his craft on the stage before making the jump to the big screen. Even actors who start on television have that ability to be seen by a wide audience before they transition to films. The limited audiences of the theatre limit the amount of exposure an actor will have, thus making his arrival in movies as fresh as if he’d never acted before at all. This week’s two films highlight the breakout and continued film success of Geoffery Rush.
Length: 105 minutes / 1.75 hours
While Geoffery Rush spent his early career on the stage, he did make a few appearances in films and television in the 1980’s. However, it wasn’t until 1996 when Rush garnered the attention of everyone with his leading role in Shine. Almost a decade after his last film performance, Geoffery Rush was able to win the Oscar for Best Actor with his portrayal of piano genius, David Helfgott. This was only the beginning of his success. His classical training in the theatre was quite clear with future roles that also garnered him two more nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor, respectively. Shakespeare in Love (1998) managed to win Best Picture for that year, but Quills (2000) featured Rush more prominently as the Marquis de Sade. It is quite impressive to be this recognized in only four years, especially since he was in his mid-40’s when Shine was released.
Ducking into a restaurant to escape the downpour outside, the employees sense that something is wrong with this bespectacled man. One of the employees takes him back to his hotel room, where he tries to energetically convince her that he is a musical genius. The man is none other than David Helfgott (Geoffery Rush), a talented pianist who gained his skills through an overbearing father who didn’t approve of any failure from his son. After a falling out between himself and his father, David builds upon his natural talent, eventually entering a competition with a difficult piece: Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Concerto. During the performance, he has a mental breakdown and undergoes electric shock therapy in a psychiatric hospital as a result. While this leaves him in a muddled state, his piano skills remain intact, eventually convincing the restaurant owner to hire him as a nightly pianist.
The King’s Speech
Length: 118 minutes / 1.97 hours
Upon arriving at the new millennium, Geoffery Rush’s roles began to change. With his Oscar nominations seemingly behind him, he took on the role of Captain Hector Barbossa in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). This was the first time I recognized Rush as an actor, having never seen him in his earlier roles that garnered him so much critical attention. For the next few years, he would reprise this role, and continues to do so to this day, with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) arriving in theaters this year. Still, this didn’t mean the Academy forgot about him completely. A decade after his last nomination, he received a nod for Best Supporting Actor for his work in The King’s Speech (2010), losing to Christian Bale and his performance in The Fighter (2010).
After a somewhat disastrous speech to the closing of the British Empire Exhibition, the stuttering Prince Albert (Colin Firth) is finally convinced by his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) to seek help. This help comes in the form of speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffery Rush), who uses some unique methods to help the Prince fight his stuttering. While Albert doesn’t feel the methods are working, Lionel wagers him that the Duke of York can recite a Shakespearean soliloquy perfectly, which he does. After the death of his father, and his older brother abdicating the throne, Albert soon finds himself as the King of England, George VI. One of the important aspects of the monarchy is an annual radio address to the people. With this incredibly important speech coming up, King George VI relents and uses Lionel to help him through the address, executing it almost flawlessly.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 great Geoffery Rush performances
Bacon #: 2 (Green Lantern / Tim Robbins -> Mystic River / Kevin Bacon)