Work of Ge­nius

Meet the man be­hind the orig­i­nal ab­sent-minded pro­fes­sor, Al­bert Ein­stein.

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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.

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