Although the Holocaust is a well-visited subject for Hollywood, Geoffrey Rush says he was struck by how The Book Thief — based on the 2007 novel by Marcus Zusak — offers “another different perspective on everything.” Rush, who has an Oscar for 1996’s Shine and three subsequent nominations, plays Hans, an adoptive father who’s trying to survive World War II and Nazi Germany. Directed by Brian Percival, the film introduces 12-year-old actress Sophie Nelisse as Hans’ daughter, Liesel, and features Emily Watson as the patriarch’s hardbitten, overbearing wife. Although the role was relatively light on dialogue, Rush says learning to play the accordion connected him strongly to his character.
AwardsLine: What struck a chord with you when you read the script for The Book Thief?
Geoffrey Rush: I think I got about five pages into it and thought, this is a remarkable story. It’s already got me hooked. It’s not what you call a soft opening, to meet this 10-year-old girl whose 6-year-old brother dies on page one. Then in the next scene, her mother’s a Communist and gets taken away. I can’t think of many films that start with a 10-year-old with a burden that’s comparable to Hamlet’s. (more…)