Geoffrey Rush returns to two feature films after an acting hiatus

Oscar-winning Australian actor Geoffrey Rush returns to feature films after a four-year absence.

Rush, 71, will play vaudeville and comedian Groucho Marx in the upcoming production by Israeli-American screenwriter and director Oren Moverman Eyebrows raised: my years in Groucho’s house.

This week, entertainment industry website Deadline announced that Rush is also in the cast of an action comedy Verona Spieswith in-demand actress Emma Roberts (We are the Millers, american horror story) in the final talks to play the lead role.

Besides leading the 2018 production of storm boy and a high-profile libel case, the Melbourne-based “gaming giant” has made headlines after nearly two years of enforced COVID shutdowns.

In July, he returned to center stage in the Czech Republic to receive the Crystal Globe for Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema at the 56th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Libel case

Rush won a libel suit against the The telegraph of the day in 2019, after Federal Court Judge Michael Wigney found his Nationwide News publisher and reporter Jonathon Moran were reckless as to the truth when they reported that Rush had been accused of inappropriate behavior during a Sydney Theater Company production. King Lear.

He awarded $850,000 in general damages and approximately $2 million in special damages to cover past and future economic losses.

The decision was upheld on appeal in July 2020.

In Karlovy Vary, Rush spoke about the case, but made it clear he didn’t want to talk about it in depth.

“It was deadly for everyone involved, I think, on both sides,” he said. Deadline July 7.

“It was an exaggerated and inflated tabloid event [the defamation case] and the court found the result in my favor and I don’t like to talk about it,” he said.

Unintended consequences

Rush said the claims created “Irreparable damage” to his reputation when he brought the libel action.

Judge Wigney told the court in 2019 Rush had suffered financial loss as a result of the posts, but the prospect of him never being able to work again was “very remote”.

“I consider that, all things being equal, once his reputation is vindicated, he will eventually be able to get back to playing,” the judge said.

“It’s a tricky time in history to get mud thrown, no matter how unfair,” a Melbourne theater source said. The new daily after the Rush verdict.

Film expert from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Associate Professor Dr Bruce Isaacs agrees that Rush can return to the big screen.

“Rush, while making headlines, also seemed somewhat outside the fury. In this sense, his career does not seem irreparable, ”he says. The new daily.

Rush says the case ‘has warmed me up for isolation because in Melbourne we have been isolated for a very long time’.

“I’ve lived an airtight existence in some ways and with that kind of thing, especially with COVID, you become more thoughtful. Everyone did. People have changed.

Play Groucho Marx

Playing Marx will be his first starring role since storm boybut he pushed back on suggestions that the role is a “return”.

“I’m coming back to work, but I don’t want to see it that way. I signed on for this film in August 2020.

“That’s what happened with Shine. I trampled the water for three years before it was made. You go, “I hope this idea doesn’t fade or die out.”

“Everyone thinks my career was over after that. [defamation] cases, but I was offered roles, but weird things, like playing a judge,” he said.

He says Marx’s film is not a biopic, but rather a “tragic comedy about mortality”, about the last three years of Marx’s life (he died of pneumonia in 1977, at the age 86 years old).

The veteran comedian received a round of applause before the screening of The King’s Speech at the Czech Republic Film Festival on July 6. Photo: AAP

A chameleon ?

Rush has won an Academy Award, three British Academy Film Awards, two Golden Globe Awards and four Screen Actors Guild Awards.

He is also the founding president of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) and was voted Australian of the Year in 2012.

He played everything from a hacker, a pianist, Albert Einstein, Peter Sellers, a Mossad agent, voiced the pelican in The world of Nemo, and owned the stage in theater productions for countless years.

At the 24th Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2018Gary Oldman (who won Best Actor for playing Winston Churchill), praised Rush as a “giant of acting” along with Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman.

Rush says he’s been offered roles as a judge and celebrity president since the libel case, but wouldn’t talk about the movies.

“I like to think I’m a chameleon, but no.”

A throwback to the scene is too early to address: “In the realm of self-reflection and meditation, I wondered, ‘Has my mojo gone?

“And then, you know, not doing it for four or five years, you’re suddenly like ‘I feel rusty’.”

But will audiences welcome him back?

Dr. Isaacs says, “It’s less clear.”

“The break for someone like Rush will lead to some degree of marginalization, [as in] – is Rush still a very visible part of what we consider “serious cinema”? »

-with AAP

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