His EGOT credentials include the rare Triple Crown of Acting (the Emmy, Oscar, and Tony for acting as opposed to, well, not acting pretty much), but I want to focus on a role that didn't get him as much acclaim. I wasn't as taken with him in Shine as most (I'm sure winning the Oscar is sufficient solace for my lack of enthusiasm for that performance--he sleeps just fine), so my respect for him really began with Elizabeth (the 1998 film starring Cate Blanchett).
OKAY, goddamn it, I can't embed the trailer for the 1998 movie. Click here to watch it. If you haven't seen it, it's a fucking elegant movie--the art direction, the costumes, THE FABRICS ARE INCREDIBLE. So much went into this movie (I love its cinematography and its editing), and I have nothing but respect for director Shekhar Kapur (but not so much that I will ever learn his name, instead I call him "Tupac Shakur" which confuses the hell out of people) for making such an amazing movie. It picked up 7 Oscar nominations (winning only for Best Makeup) and Kapur was definitely robbed of a nomination for his direction.
Geoffrey Rush and Joseph Fiennes had roles in both Elizabeth and the big Oscar-winning period piece of the same year, Shakespeare in Love. Rush picked up a Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for SiL, but won the Supporting Actor BAFTA for Elizabeth, which I think is not only his better work of the two, but some of the best acting that year.
I was really shaken with how familiar the movie felt. I am ill-informed on world history (me and Sarah Palin have that in common), so it wasn't that I somehow had read the story. It took me a while, possibly a few weeks to realize that Elizabeth and The Godfather have remarkably similar story arcs. And Rush plays a cross between Tom Hagen and Obi-Wan Kenobi (who was, technically, not in any of The Godfather movies, I know). By the way, I totally looked up, and went back to hyphenate the name Obi-Wan just now.
A few years later Rush turned in an exceptional performance in Quills. But if you haven't seen Elizabeth, add that to your library list.
It is a testament to a personal black hole of movies that I never saw 2007's continuation of the story, Elizabeth: The Golden Age which reunited Rush, Blanchett and Tupac Shakur. I totally suck.
But Geoffrey, he totally doesn't.
Happy birthday dude! Rock on!