National Geographic : 2017 Apr
| 3 QUESTIONS | GEOFFREY RUSH How was Einstein unlike most of us? In preparing for the role, I found the most fantastic, pithy expression, from the phi- losopher Arthur Schopenhauer: “Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.” That’s absolutely a description of Einstein’s mind, because he overturned hundreds of years of scientific orthodoxies about gravity, light, space, time. Another aspect of being seen as a genius is endurance. He was still working on unified field theory into his 70s, and on his deathbed he was still trying to find what we would now call the theory of everything. What might we have in common? When Einstein died, they dissected his brain and found it was a normal weight— about 1.23 kilos [2.7 pounds]. I think they were expecting to find he had a massive frontal cortex or something. He was said to have a very high IQ: 160—about the same as [theoretical physicist Stephen] Hawking. He had a lot of human frail- ties. He had ego, he had doubt, he had sadness. He suffered the deaths of many loved ones in his life span, massive mar- ital problems, estrangement from his children. He was vulnerable to all the contradictions that every human can be. Can you imagine yourself in conver- sation with him, or sharing a meal? It’s a parlor game, really, isn’t it? The fantasy of having historical dinner guests. He’d be on my list alongside Plato, Shakespeare, Charlie Chaplin, and Queen Elizabeth I. I just hope he’d accept the invitation, because he was obsessed by the need for solace for what his exploratory brain demanded of him. But he was also gregarious; he quipped absurdities and made wisecracks like Groucho Marx. In terms of the meal: I have German ancestry too, and I like schnitzel, strudel, my grandmother’s sauerkraut... So that’s probably what I’d suggest. And I think he’d join in heartily. THIS INTERVIEW WAS EDITED FOR LENGTH AND CLARITY. PHOTO: MAARTEN DE BOER, CONTOUR BY GETTY IMAGES His acting roles have ranged from Captain Barbossa in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies to George VI’s speech therapist in The King’s Speech. But Geoffrey Rush, 65, says that portraying Albert Einstein in the television series Genius is “what actors call a great part. For a sexagenarian character actor, they don’t come along every day.” PLAYING THE PART OF GENIUS The 10-part series Genius airs Tuesdays starting April 25, on National Geographic.