×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

NatGeo’s ‘Genius’ Cast, Crew on How Einstein’s Life Parallels Current Headlines

While season one of “Genius” gives insight into the life of legendary physicist Albert Einstein, who died in 1955, cast and crew at the London premiere were unanimous about how pertinent the themes are today, given headlines about the refugee crisis.

The National Geographic series, which premieres on April 25, shows Einstein trying to flee Nazi Germany but facing tough U.S. immigration policies.

“It wasn’t lost on any of us how similar our situations were,” says Gigi Pritzer, who served as executive producer, alongside Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

Geoffrey Rush, who plays the freethinking Einstein, describes him as an “antihero.” “The world at the moment feels a bit anxiety-ridden, a lot of the people in charge don’t seem to be terribly good human beings,” says Rush. “And Einstein really believed in passion and curiosity and knowledge… and not being part of an orthodox group.”

He and Emily Watson, who plays Einstein’s second wife Elsa, filmed their immigration scenes in the days after the U.S. election. “It was like events were re-enacting themselves,” she said.

Michael McElhatton (“Game of Thrones”) plays Philipp Lenard, a German physicist who won the Nobel Prize for Physics, but was an anti-Semite who supported Hitler and dismissed Einstein’s contributions to science as constituting “Jewish physics.”

He drew his inspiration for his character, he says, from a certain famous political figure. “I probably shouldn’t say this, but I said to Ron, ‘We’ve got to think ‘Trump.’” And he said, ‘Yeah, I didn’t know where your politics lie, but that was the note I was going to give.’”

Howard, who directed the first episode, says that he’d wanted to tell the story of Einstein for a long time, and praised the scientist’s “courage and fortitude based on his principles.”

Einstein renounced his German citizenship in 1933 shortly after learning that his home had been raided by Nazis, and that the new German government had barred Jews from holding official positions.

“What’s amazing is that he was a complete pacifist yet was considered such a threat,” says Pritzker.

“I hope the series sheds light on the complexity of the decision to leave,” says Howard. “You know, it’s not so easy to become a refugee. It’s nothing anyone wants.“

 

 

More Scene

  • Andy CohenThe Shops and Restaurants at

    Andy Cohen to Receive Vito Russo Award at GLAAD Media Awards

    Mazel, Andy Cohen! Bravo’s late-night talk show host is set to receive the Vito Russo Award at the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards on May 4 in New York City. Sarah Jessica Parker will present him with the award, which is named in honor of GLAAD founder Vito Russo. The annual award goes to openly [...]

  • Variety TV Summit Europe

    Variety TV Summit Europe Coming to London on June 13

    Variety’s TV Summit Europe will coincide with London Tech Week this year, returning to the city on June 13. The international conference will be held at the Royal Lancaster and is co-produced by global events company Informa’s KNect365 division, the world’s largest business-to-business organizer. The one-day summit will focus on the intersection of content and [...]

  • David Furnish, Bryce Dallas Howard, Taron

    'Rocketman': Paramount Previews Footage of Elton John Biopic

    “Rocketman” is ready for lift off. Paramount Pictures threw a cocktail party Monday night to preview 15 minutes of the upcoming Elton John biopic, set for release on May 31, at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, the legendary rock club where John made his U.S. debut nearly 50 years ago. The footage featured pieces of [...]

  • The CalArts REDCAT Gala 2019 Honoring

    Pixar's Pete Docter Honored at CalArts REDCAT Gala

    Pixar’s Pete Docter reminisced about his days as a student at CalArts on Saturday night at the 2019 CalArts REDCAT Gala, where he received the Distinguished Alumni Award. For the wide-eyed boy from Minnesota, where life was more routine, attending CalArts “was a free-for-all. It was eye-opening in a lot of ways,” he recalled. “But [...]

  • Sasha Pieterse, Eli Brown, Sydney Park

    'Pretty Little Liars' Spinoff Unexpectedly Coincides With College Admissions Scandal

    It was a case of art imitating life at Saturday night’s Hollywood premiere of “The Perfectionists” — Freeform’s “Pretty Little Liars” spinoff about a scandal involving college students striving for excellence by any means necessary. The TV show’s debut was coincidently preceded by a real-life college scandal involving Hollywood celebrities who allegedly didn’t let a [...]

  • Keira Knightley'The Aftermath' film screening, Arrivals,

    Keira Knightley Talks 'Aftermath,' Alexander Skarsgård and Another Itchy Wardrobe

    The reigning queen of period pieces, Keira Knightley, knows a thing or two about historical clothing. “Lining. Lining is always important,” the Oscar-nominated actress playfully advised on Wednesday at the premiere of her post-WWII drama “Aftermath.” “If you get a lot of itchy stuff always put lining in it. I have learned that from having [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content