6 reasons you're going to love the new Einstein series on National Geographic
‘Genius,’ starring Geoffrey Rush, is the next show you’ll want to binge-watch.
National Geographic’s first-ever scripted series, "Genius," focusing on the life of Albert Einstein aims to show you “the Einstein you didn’t know,” according to Ron Howard. Howard produced the series with his partner Brian Grazer and also directed the first episode. The series is expected to be an anthology; Grazer and Howard are currently in discussions about who will be the genius in season two.
The 10-episode series will debut on the National Geographic Channel on April 25. We got a sneak peek at the first couple of episodes, and we’re already smitten. Here are six reasons you’re going to love "Genius," too.
The star-studded cast
Academy Award-winning actor Geoffrey Rush leads a star-filled cast as the older Einstein. Johnny Flynn, who got his big break on Netflix’s "Lovesick," plays the younger Einstein on the brink of scientific discovery. Oscar-nominated actress Emily Watson stars opposite Rush as Einstein’s second wife. "Game of Thrones" star Michael McElhatton plays physicist Dr. Phillip Lenard, Einstein’s long-time foil, and Vincent Kartheiser, best known for his role in "Mad Men," makes a cameo appearance as a U.S. consulate officer. You’ll also see up-and-comers Samantha Colley as Serbian physicist Mileva Marić, Einstein’s first wife, and Czech actress Klára Issová as Marie Curie, among others.
One look at Rush in costume, and there’s simply no mistaking who he’s playing. The resemblance is uncanny, and in no small part it's because they’ve recreated Einstein’s iconic wild gray hair down to the follicle. Of course, there’s also that wonderful mustache, which makeup artist Davina Lamont created for Rush and his younger counterpart, the naturally blond-haired, blue-eyed Flynn.
“In normal life, I don’t think you can find someone who looks less like Einstein, so I was confused when I got sent the part,” recalled Flynn. “And then the wonderful Davina and Faye, who had done all the makeup, worked in all these amazing prosthetic pieces. For my hair they used wigs for different ages.”
Learning that Einstein was a high school dropout
Einstein wasn’t always the eccentric professor we know him as today. As a teenager and a young man, he was a rebel and a Bohemian. He regularly questioned his teachers, and more than once he was kicked out of class. At 15, he left high school in Munich on a doctor’s note intent on studying independently, despite his father’s disapproval.
“Albert Einstein is a name and a figure everyone thinks they know, but when I began to dive into his story, I was fascinated by how much was new to me,” Howard told Vanity Fair.
Sitting in on Einstein’s classes
As "Genius" bounces between Einstein’s youth and his later years as a professor – first in Berlin and later at Princeton – there are a number of scenes in which we get to sit in on Einstein’s classes. In one, he implores his students to close their eyes telling them, “To truly grasp the idea of time we must take a step back and ask, what is light?” These moments when we, as viewers, are able to spend a few moments as Einstein’s students are some of the most remarkable scenes in the series.
The period costumes
If you’re a fan of other early 20th-century series like "Downton Abbey" or "The Crown," you’ll love "Genius." Costume designer Sonu Mishra exploited every detail of costume and accessory to portray the characters. Mishra’s challenge was not only to set the stage, but to set two stages; one for the younger Einstein in late-1800s Germany and Switzerland, and then Germany and the U.S. in the 1940s.
“I feel myself transforming,” said Colley, who portrays Einstein's first wife, Mileva Marić. “My favorite thing is the fittings. Mileva’s bows, when I put on one of her bows, I feel myself shifting into her.” Colley wore one noticeably thick shoe and walked with a limp, mimicking a disability Marić was born with.
The drama and intrigue
For their first scripted series, National Geographic really hit the mark. The story was adapted from Walter Isaacson’s "Einstein: His Life and Universe," a book the historian researched at the Einstein archives on the campus of Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
We get a glimpse beyond the esteemed genius’s research into Einstein’s love life and other areas of his personality. Every episode drops off at a pivotal moment that will leave you wanting more. The series is set to premiere on April 25, but you may very well want to wait to watch (if you can) until all the episodes are out, because "Genius" is a binge-worthy drama full of insight and intrigue.
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