Assessing Geoffrey Rush: Characters Depraved and Themes Unwholesome at Best
Date of Assessment: May 18, 2011
Positive Buzzwords: Versatile, decorated, theatrical
Negative Buzzwords: Nude (sad but true)
The Case: Within the Hollywood tradition, nudity within movies is almost always of the female variety. Not so when it comes to this week's subject, Geoffrey Rush, who gets naked (in Quills and Candy, just to name a few instances) nearly as often as Kate Winslet does. While his physical form (and the fact that he has never had a problem with showing it) has very little to do with his acting ability, Rush's nudity often points towards his no-holds-barred approach to stunning performances in a variety of genres and mediums. In fact, his accomplishments extend not only in movies but also in television and plays; he's quite the decorated actor and one of only a few handfuls to achieve the so-called "Triple Crown of Acting" (Academy Award, Tony Award, and Emmy Award) during his tenure as an actor. As far as Oscars go, he was nominated three times (Quills; Shakespeare in Love; The King's Speech) and won the Best Actor for his performance in Shine. Then, he won the 2009 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for Exit the King and has since followed that up with rave reviews for his performance in Diary of a Madman.
Ordinarily (and if you're familiar with these assessments, you already know this), I try not to make a big deal about awards, particularly the Oscar variety. Seriously, I am still holding that grudge on behalf of the bloody good Gary Oldman; but in Geoffrey Rush's case, this seems to be a rare instance where the Academy actually has its head on straight. Hey, it could happen.
Where Geoffrey really sets himself apart from most of the actors that we talk about both here at Pajiba and in Hollywood in general in that he is, foremost, much more of a theatrical actor than a cinematical one. Indeed, most actors (even the serious ones) take, at most, one or two shots at Broadway or the West End. Geoffrey, however, has appeared in over 70 theatrical productions. In film (to put it simply), he's also a man of classics (Twelfth Night; Les Miserables). Hell, even when he's not working with a actual classic material, he's playing fictionalized versions of characters, including The Marquis de Sade in Quills, who questioned the very authority of classics and the establishment itself.
Almost inevitably, he's suffered many missteps -- House on Haunted Hill; The Warrior's Way; Intolerable Cruelty; Bran Nue Dae; and Mystery Men (Casanova Frankenstein, really?) -- but has managed to overcome all such obstacles through his participation within loftier pursuits such as Shine, Elizabeth (and its sequel), Quills, Frida, and (to a degree) Shakespeare in Love. Not to mention other crowd favorites like The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, Munich, and The King's Speech. In addition, Rush is perfectly capable of turning tail and appearing as one of the most entertaining characters in a damn Disney franchise, Captain Hector Barbossa in the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy and its upcoming fourth installment, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Not bad for a man who considers himself a character actor above all else.
Prognosis: Geoffrey Rush, to put it mildly, has done (and probably will continue to do) everything correctly as far as his acting career is concerned (other than possibly what's to come in the Green Lantern). He's appeared as an actor of films with artistic merit, adaptations of classics, and compete and total fluff. At this moment, I'd ideally provide you with a clip from one of his movie roles, but I find it more appropriate here to remember his captivating performance in The King's Exit on Broadway.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at agentbedhead.com.