One of Australia's most popular and distinguished actors, Geoffrey Rush came to the attention of the international community in 1996 with his performance as pianist David Helfgott in Shine (1996). Rush won an Academy Award for Best Actor, Golden Globe, and Australian Film Institute Award for his work, and he subsequently began appearing in films that would further make him known to audiences all over the world.
A Queensland native, Rush was born in Toowoomba on July 6, 1951. After taking an arts degree from the University of Queensland, he began his theater career at Brisbane's Queensland Theatre Company. In addition to honing his skills with the classics, Rush lived in Paris for two years, where he studied pantomime at the Jacques Lecoq School of Mime. After returning to Australia, the actor resumed his stage work, at one point co-starring in Waiting for Godot with former roommate Mel Gibson. He spent much of the early '80s as part of director Jim Sharman's Lighthouse troupe and he also began working in film; his debut came in the 1981 Hoodwink, which also featured a young Judy Davis. Rush continued to appear in Australian films and on the stage, directing a number of theatrical productions in addition to acting in them. His big international break came in the form of the aforementioned Shine; following the adulation surrounding his performance as the unbalanced piano prodigy, Rush began to garner substantial roles in a number of high-profile projects. First was Gillian Armstrong's Oscar and Lucinda (1997), in which he played Oscar's great-grandson. The following year the actor drew raves for his work in Elizabeth, which featured him as the Queen's casually sinister confidant, and Shakespeare in Love, for which he again donned tights, this time to play a debt-ridden theater owner. His work in that film scored him his second Oscar nomination, this time for Best Supporting Actor. The same year, he could also be seen as the dastardly Inspector Javert in Bille August's adaptation of Les Miserables.