Over the years when filmmaker Ron Howard read treatments on Albert Einstein, he never felt the character was reflected completely for a two-hour movie.
But then Noah Pink’s script arrived on his desk from Gigi Pritzker’s OddLot Entertainment, and that along with Walter Isaacson’s book on the legendary scientist “was full of surprises” said Howard today about his upcoming NatGeo series Genius, the network’s first scripted which premieres on April 25 after its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Essentially, the material wasn’t the nuts and bolts of Einstein’s science, but “warts and all” said Howard in that it portrayed the burgeoning scientist and his younger libido.
“What was the most enticing was diving into aspects of the Einstein you didn’t know,” said Howard, “As a young man, he was free thinking, a Bohemian, not like (A Beautiful Mind‘s) John Nash who was an introvert. The science part of (Einstein’s) the character, we learned how to deal with on A Beautiful Mind and that gave us the confidence to do it again.”
Similar to the way that Howard visually portrayed Nash’s genius clicking in A Beautiful Mind, as the character mentally sifts through text and finds code, he has the opportunity to play that cinematically again with Einstein’s Eureka moments in Genius. Howard directed the pilot episode.
“He loved women, loved nature, he was determined to understand and that just kept driving him, the epitome of curiosity just kept fueling him,” said the Oscar-winning director of A Beautiful Mind.
Genius also delves into Einstein’s struggle as a pacifist, particularly in his involvement in the creation of the atom bomb. “He had a friend, Fritz Haber, who developed a poisonous gas to protect Germany during World War I, and that broke Einstien’s heart that his dear freind had to use his science in that way,” explained Howard.
On the series, which is produced by Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment, Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush plays the older Einstein who is on the Nazi’s hit list, and escapes to the U.S. where he assists in the creation of the atom bomb. Newcomer Johnny Flynn plays the younger Einstein who worked as a patent clerk, failed to get a teaching job and earned his doctorate while pursuing women. The series marks the third time that Rush and co-star Emily Watson have acted together as husband and wife after The Book Thief and The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.