skip navigation
Geoffrey Rush

Geoffrey Rush

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Also Known As: Geoffrey Roy Rush Died:
Born: July 6, 1951 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Toowoomba, Queensland, AU Profession: actor, director, playwright, musician

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Actor Geoffrey Rush was little known outside his native Australia when he soared to international prominence on the wings of his remarkable portrayal of eccentric pianist David Helfgott in Scott Hicks' acclaimed biopic "Shine" (1996), for which he won a slew of awards, including an Oscar for Best Actor. Arguably his country's top stage actor, he had struggled for years to achieve recognition, but post-"Shine," Rush would remain both prolific and highly regarded as a film presence. Rush chewed the scenery with relish in the Academy Award-winning "Shakespeare in Love" (1998), opposite Gwyneth Paltrow, and brought the depraved Marquis de Sade to life with unsettling voracity in "Quills" (2000). He played brilliantly off of a cast-against-type Pierce Brosnan in the spy thriller "The Tailor of Panama" (2001) before taking to the high seas in the mega-franchise "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" (2003), as the ghost pirate Barbossa, who Rush would portray several more times. He went on to win awards for his title performance in the cable biopic "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" (HBO, 2004), and won critical praise for his role as an early 20th-Century vocal therapist in "The...

Actor Geoffrey Rush was little known outside his native Australia when he soared to international prominence on the wings of his remarkable portrayal of eccentric pianist David Helfgott in Scott Hicks' acclaimed biopic "Shine" (1996), for which he won a slew of awards, including an Oscar for Best Actor. Arguably his country's top stage actor, he had struggled for years to achieve recognition, but post-"Shine," Rush would remain both prolific and highly regarded as a film presence. Rush chewed the scenery with relish in the Academy Award-winning "Shakespeare in Love" (1998), opposite Gwyneth Paltrow, and brought the depraved Marquis de Sade to life with unsettling voracity in "Quills" (2000). He played brilliantly off of a cast-against-type Pierce Brosnan in the spy thriller "The Tailor of Panama" (2001) before taking to the high seas in the mega-franchise "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" (2003), as the ghost pirate Barbossa, who Rush would portray several more times. He went on to win awards for his title performance in the cable biopic "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" (HBO, 2004), and won critical praise for his role as an early 20th-Century vocal therapist in "The King⿿s Speech" (2010). Always unconventional, Rush excelled in essaying characters who were alternately eccentric, cowardly, brilliant, or insane ⿿ sometimes a combination of all four ⿿ creating one of the most impressive résumés of any actor of his generation.

Born on July 6, 1951 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 â¿¿ suspended when he was 14 â¿¿ in order to play portions of the classical repertoire. It may have been Helfgott on the soundtrack, but it was Rush's fingers â¿¿ not a stand-in's â¿¿ 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 Worldâ¿¿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 â¿¿ and rare â¿¿ 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 Gaâ¿¿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 Kingâ¿¿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 Warriorâ¿¿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.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Gods of Egypt (2016)
3.
 Daughter, The (2015)
4.
 Best Offer, The (2014)
5.
 Book Thief, The (2013)
6.
 Green Lantern (2011)
9.
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1971:
Joined Queensland Theatre Company in Brisbane; made stage debut in "Wrong Side of the Moon"
1972:
Scored a hit as Snoopy in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"
1975:
Moved to France to study mime
1977:
Returned to Australia
1978:
Made stage directing debut with Queensland Theatre Company's production of "Clowneroonies"; also acted
1979:
Appeared alongside Mel Gibson in "Waiting for Godot"
:
Performed with Jim Sharman's Lighthouse troupe in the early 1980s
1981:
Made debut in the Australian film, "Hoodwink"
1982:
Portrayed a Floor Manager in Gillian Armstrong's "Starstruck"
1986:
Had first major film role as Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Neil Armfield's "Twelfth Night"
1989:
Won praise for his role in Nikolai Gogol's play, "The Diary of a Madman"; re-teamed with Armfield who directed
1991:
Played the title role in Gogol's "The Government Inspector" for the Sydney stage
1992:
Re-teamed with director Sharman for the Australian documentary, "The Burning Bed"
1992:
Directed the Australian stage production of "The Frogs"; also co-adapted (with John Clarke) but did not act in the production
1993:
Co-starred with Cate Blanchett in Sydney stage production of David Mamet's "Oleanna"
1995:
First lead role in a feature, "Dad and Dave: On Our Selection"
1996:
Cast as a crusty newspaper editor in the Australian TV production, "Mercury"
1996:
Won international acclaim for his performance as the adult pianist David Helfgott in "Shine"
1997:
Co-starred in the historical Australian miniseries, "Frontier"
1998:
Dogged Liam Neeson as Inspector Javert in the dramatic adaptation of "Les Miserables"
1998:
Portrayed the mysterious Sir Francis Walsingham, the Master of Spies and royal court enforcer of "Elizabeth"; starred Blanchett in the title role
1998:
Played Philip Henslowe, the acting company manager in "Shakespeare in Love"; garnered Supporting Actor Golden Globe and Oscar nominations
1999:
Appeared as the villainous Cassanova Frankenstein in "Mystery Men"
2000:
Returned to the Sydney stage in "Small Poppies"
2000:
Cast as the Marquis de Sade in the feature adaptation of "Quills"; received a Best Actor Oscar nomination
2001:
Played the title role in John Boorman's adaptation of the spy novel, "The Tailor of Panama"
2001:
Appeared in the critically hailed Austrian film, "Lantana"
2002:
Cast as Goldie Hawn's nebbishy love interest in "The Banger Sisters"
2002:
Portrayed Leon Trotsky in "Frida"
2003:
Played Captain Barbossa in "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl"; film based on the popular Disney theme ride
2004:
Joined an ensemble cast in the Australian gangster biopic, "Ned Kelly"
2004:
Played the title role in "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers"; premiered at at the Cannes film festival and aired on HBO
2005:
Portrayed the overbearing, alcoholic father of champion swimmer Tony Fingleton in "Swimming Upstream"
2005:
Cast as Ephraim, a cold Mossad officer, in Steven Spielberg's "Munich"
2006:
Reprised role as the ghostly Captain Barbossa in Gore Verbinski's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"
2007:
Once again played Captain Barbossa in "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"
2007:
Reprised the role of Sir Francis Walsingham in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," a sequel to the award winning feature "Elizabeth"
2007:
Starred as King Berenger in a Melbourne production of Eugene Ionesco's "Exit the King"
2009:
Reprised role of King Berenger for the Broadway production of "Exit the King"
2010:
Helps Colin Firth's King George VI overcome his speech impediment of stuttering in "The King¿s Speech"
2011:
Nominated for the 2011 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture ("The King¿s Speech")
2011:
Nominated for the 2011 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role ("The King's Speech")
2011:
Nominated for the 2011 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
2011:
Nominated for the 2011 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
2011:
Nominated for the 2011 Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
2011:
Reprised role as Captain Barbossa in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Queensland Theatre Company: -
University of Queensland: - 1971
Center For Advanced Film Studies, American Film Institute: - 1973 - 1975
L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq: - 1975 - 1977

Notes

"My career has been in theater for 23 years, with spits and coughs in bits and pieces of films. Scott [Hicks] very nicely said my entire career had been my audition [for the role in 'Shine']" --Rush quoted in New York Post, November 21, 1996.

"It's been a very fulfilling career, and I don't want to suddenly throw all that out the window and do something trashy that pays a lot of money. But I will have to confront that nasty thing of, well, how MUCH money?" --Rush on his sudden fame in Entertainment Weekly, November 29, 1996.

"It was the second day of filming in Adelaide, the day we did the comeback concert at the end of the film, where David (Helfgott) has this curious catharsis, with everyone applauding him. It felt like a theater performance that day; there was a stage and an audience. And for this scene, Gillian (Helfgott's wife) sat among the extras. And Lynn Redgrave came up to me and said, 'Don't get upset, Gillian's out front, and she's crying.' And I said, 'Well, what's the matter?' And she said, 'She was watching you while you were running through your takes and she went, "Oh my God, it's David."' And that night Gillian faxed me in my hotel room. She said, 'I wanted to run down on stage today and kiss you.' I got the best notice for this film on the second day of filming." --Geoffrey Rush quoted in The New York Times, January 1, 1997.

"I have to say that after 26 years of relative poverty--and to a degree, struggle--it is nice to be able to say that now I can educate my kids properly without compromise, and set myself up in a way that will allow me to work with greater freedom and greater choices." --Rush quoted in the Daily News, November 1, 1998.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Jane Menelaus. Actor. Married c. 1988; met when they co-starred in an Australian stage production of "Benefactors" (1986); retired from stage to raise family; acted opposite Rush in "Quills" (2000).

Family close complete family listing

father:
Roy Rush. Accountant. Kept accounts for the Australian Air Force; born c. 1927; split with wife when Rush was five.
mother:
Merle Rush. Sales clerk. Born c. 1927; when marriage splintered, took children to live with her parents in the suburbs.
daughter:
Angelica Rush. Born c. 1992.
son:
James Rush. Born c. 1995.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute