Geoffrey Rush was relaxing at his home in suburban Melbourne a few years back when a strange package arrived on his front door step.
“It was like an orphan,” the 59-year-old actor recalled. “I thought ‘Who left this?’ “There was no stork. “I took it in, it had a beautiful cover letter and they apologised for bypassing agents and all that protocol.”
The mysterious package was a copy of The King’s Speech, a stage play written by Englishman David Seidler based on the true story of how Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue helped cure King George VI’s debilitating stutter. Rush loved the story.
He was well aware of the king’s stammer, but had no idea Adelaide speech therapist Logue was the man responsible for helping him.
Seidler and other backers of the project wanted Rush to sign on. “They wanted me to be aware that this Australian character existed because they were trying to get the project up as a play,” Rush said.
“They had a wish list of who would play the king and then they said ‘You are the only Australian we can think of in the right age group’.”
Rush had bigger visions, viewing the work not as a play, but a feature film. The rest is history.
While Rush missed out on the supporting actor Oscar for his portrayal of Logue, The King’s Speech was the victor at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, winning best picture, best director for Tom Hooper and best actor for Colin Firth.
The King’s Speech is a true Australian-British production, with Hooper perhaps the perfect director for the job.
The 38-year-old is a dual Australian and British citizen, with his mother, Meredith, born in Adelaide and father, Richard, a Brit.
It was Ms Hooper, who after sitting down to a reading of the play in London in 2007, lobbied her son to direct the film. It’s no wonder Hooper thanked his mum in his Oscar acceptance speech.
“With this I honour you,” said Hooper, looking down at his mother who was in the Kodak Theatre.
“The moral of this story is listen to your mother.”