Work of Genius
Meet the man behind the original absent-minded professor, Albert Einstein.
Ten- episode Genius (2017- current) tells the story of physicist Albert Einstein (Geoffrey Rush). And while his theories about the nature of the universe take a lifetime of study to understand, his own life is filled with such juicy political and personal drama that he’s as at home on our TV screens as The Fixer’s (2012- current, see p31) Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) or Breaking Bad’s (2008-2013) Walter White (Bryan Cranston).
“When you move past his scientific contributions, Albert’s life story – his youth, his friends, his enemies, his tumultuous love life – is a story that people don’t know,” says executive producer Ron Howard. Genius follows Albert (the young version played by Johnny Flynn, the elder by a mesmerising and playful Geoffrey as each episode flashes back and forth to different times) through his early days in science, two marriages, two World Wars, political intrigue and a strange international stardom that spilled out beyond the scientific community.
THE NUTTY PROFESSOR
Einstein seems personally somewhat surprised by his fame, telling his friend Carl Seelig in a (translated) 1951 letter, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” It’s a modesty very much in line with the image on which many of our pop culture absent-minded professors are based. And interpreting the man behind that image for TV was “scary” but fun for Geoffrey. “We found some delicious eccentricities because he was so down to Earth. He liked wearing his wife’s shoes – if he couldn’t find his sandals, he’d just put on her open-toed slingbacks,” he reveals. “He’d sometimes come in [to teach his classes] wearing a collar, tie and jacket but he’d have his pyjama pants on because he had forgotten or urgently had to get to a meeting.” Spouting out Einstein’s theories comfortably took a little more work. Geoffrey is keenly interested in science but nearly failed his advanced physics, mathematics and chemistry final year at school because he was so busy with drama club. “In the series I’ve got massive slabs of dialogue so I had to understand the science principles and fake it to credibility,” he admits.
The early and later lives of Einstein are coming to TV.