Geoffrey Rush is one of Australia’s most celebrated exports, a protean character actor whose roles have ranged from the mentally frail pianist David Helfgott (his Oscar-winning performance in “Shine”) to George VI’s speech therapist Lionel Logue (“The King’s Speech”) to the Marquis de Sade (“Quills”).
Courtesy of the 92nd Street Y
He most recent film, in which he is pictured above, is “The Eye of the Storm,” directed by Fred Schepisi, and also starring Judy Davis. The film is based on a novel by the Nobel Prize-winning writer Patrick White, about a domineering matriarch and her alienated adult children. Last Wednesday, Rush paid homage to this less well-known Australian genius as part of the 92Y’s long-running film screening and discussion series, “Reel Pieces.” Rush, director Schepisi, and Schepisi’s daughter Alexandra, who has a featured role in the film, were interviewed before a live audience by Dr. Annette Insdorf, the head of undergraduate film studies at Columbia University.
Geoffrey Rush on Patrick White: "Here was somebody writing about the Australian landscape and the Australian psyche with big, bold, fat novels."
Fred Schepisi on White’s characters: "Patrick White believes that everyone is an actor, that you’re one way with your family, another way with your friends, another way with your work colleagues. You present all those different faces to the world."
Geoffrey Rush on Australian films of the 1970s: "There were a lot of pioneering films. Guys used to have to be on horseback with their shirts off, with picks."
Fred Schepisi on his cast: "It was a great collaboration, and by the end I really did love them all."
To listen to an excerpt from the “Reel Pieces” talk, click on the player above.