Genius charts how Albert Einstein (Geoffrey Rush), an imaginative, rebellious patent clerk who struggled to land an academic post in his early years, went on to become the greatest scientific mind of the 20th century.
The show explores his rise as he juggles his volatile, passionate and complex personal relationships. Based on Walter Isaacson’s acclaimed biography.
We were on the red carpet for the film’s Tribeca Film Festival premiere at BMCC. Check out our exclusive red carpet interviews below:
Talk about immersing yourself in this world.
Richard Topol: I read all the books I could, about Albert Einstein and the little bits that I could about my character, Fritz Haber. I did a little bit of travel. I went to some of the places, where I had never been to, where they were from, where they had lived, to get a feeling for it. You know, listened to some music of the time, that they would have listened to. Then I just, as I was saying, I just let my imagination run wild. Right? I was like, asked every question I could, about every event that I know that happened in their lives, right? Whether it was: okay, my character’s wife killed herself in response to something that I did, which was the heinous thing that Fritz Haber did in his life, which he invented and deployed chemical weapons for the first time in human history, after using that same process, to in fact, save people’s lives by creating a fertilizer that would grow more food. I thought of it like, okay, my wife, who is here tonight. I have done some jerky things. Maybe not released chemical weapons and killed people, but if she was to do something like that, what would that mean to me? And really actually spend time going like, “Okay, what would I do? How would I be?” Which, you know, is stuff you don’t necessarily want to think about, but for the show was interesting to think about.
Congratulations. Speak about collaborating with this dream team. You have Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.
Michael McElhatton: Yeah, what a fantastic team. It was great. Everything about this project. Great scripts, great story, amazing production values. Ron Howard, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, all the cast. It was a joy to do, and it was an amazing story that moved so fast, and I learned so much.
Tell me a little bit about your research and diving into the person.
Michael McElhatton: Well I read a book called The Man Who Stalked Einstein. It was about the relationship I had, Philipp Leonard had with Albert Einstein. Read the scripts, and read as much as I could really about the man, and really worked off the scripts. Which were absolutely brilliant, and built my character around that really.
Speak about watching Geoffrey transform for this.
Michael McElhatton: Yeah, Geoffrey does transform. Well he’s played by Johnny Flynn in the early years, so he’s kind of played by two different characters. You know? In fact most of the cast have two different characters, the young and the old. I play me young, and I play me old. Which was done by the brilliant Davina Lamont over there. Who is an amazing makeup artist. Who’s an amazing makeup artist. Yeah, so I got to age between 40 and 80.
What was your biggest challenge working on this?
Samantha Colley: Doing right by Mileva Maric. I think she’s someone that was snubbed by history and chewed up and spat out. I felt a real responsibility to, not only to shed light on her and kind of right that wrong, but also do it in a respectful way.
Did you pull inspiration from your personal life?
Samantha Colley: That’s the thing, I think when you Google Mileva you see kind of black and white images of someone who seemed quite uptight but her personal letters revealed her to be riddled with self doubt, very vulnerable, very questioning but also very warm and loving and a fiercely loyal soul. I connect with her on a few of those things. Yeah, I really fell in love with her actually she’s, she’s amazing.
So aside from doing research how else did you bring her to life?
Samantha Colley: Well she was born with a congenital hip misalignment, so it was again really important to me to do that in an authentic and respectful way, rather than it being like a Quasimodo pastiche. So I spent a lot of time figuring out how to limp and trying a few different options. It was a bit of a full body thing though, taking on someone who, to me, she’s a bit like a conker, like quite prickly on the outside and on the inside a really rich chestnut.
Tell me a little bit about the role you play.
Vincent Kartheiser: I play assistant general counsel to the United States and Germany before the World War II had begun and I’m basically working on special visas for people trying to come into our country, into the United States, getting them a special visa so they can come in. At the time, Einstein was seen as a communist by specific people, like Mr. J. Edgar Hoover, and he was asking me to kind of force Einstein’s hand to sign certain documents to allow him into the country. Einstein just basically says, “I’m not going to do that.” I’m the man who has to assuage both sides.
Did you get to work with Mr. Rush?
Vincent Kartheiser: He is the sweetest man and the greatest actor and he is a special person.
The show premieres on April 25.