News Column

Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush shows how to be a decent person amid Nazis in 'The Book Thief'

September 6, 2013

YellowBrix

Sept. 06--In "The Book Thief," Geoffrey Rush plays Hans Huberman, a German painter and former soldier who insists on remaining a decent human being despite the Nazi regime's, um, encouragement to act otherwise.

"He and his wife, played by Emily Watson, foster this 10-year-old girl (Sophie Nelisse) who was trying to escape Germany with her communist mother just prior to the outbreak of World War II," the Academy Award-winning "Shine" actor says. "She is taken into custody by the Nazi authorities and put with a 'good' family, as it were. She's an illiterate young girl, but my character detects an extraordinary spark in her emotional intelligence and encourages her to read."

The kindly Hans also tries to teach the young girl not to blab about the Jewish man who's hiding in their basement.

Written by Rush's fellow Australian Markus Zusak, the 2005 novel the movie is based on was a sensation among teen and young adult readers, partially because, despite it's grave subject matter, it maintains a sardonically playful tone that the actor says the Brian Percival-directed movie preserves.

"The novel is narrated by Death," the 62-year-old says. "When my daughter heard that I was going to play this role, she and her friends all said 'Oh my God, we read that book when we were, like, 15.' And I've never heard teenagers respond to a piece of literature like this. They said it changed their lives. It's an amazing story."

Speaking of amazing stories, we wondered if Rush's best-known film character, Captain Barbossa, is coming back in the next "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie.

"I'd love to give you an official scoop," he says -- without doing so.

"I know that it's in preparation and is going to happen sometime next year. But that's as much as I know."

Check out the list of films opening in Los Angeles between now and the end of November.

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