National Geographic Channel is going big for its first scripted series.
The cable network has tapped Geoffrey Rush to star as Albert Einstein in its anthology drama Genius, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. Newcomer Johnny Flynn will play the younger version of the physicist.
The first season of the anthology is based on Walter Isaacson’s critically acclaimed biography of the celebrated scientist, with the pilot to be directed by Imagine’s Ron Howard, marking his first time helming a scripted primetime drama.
The series, picked up in April, hails from Fox 21 Television Studios (Homeland, People v. O.J. Simpson), Imagine Television (Empire), OddLot Entertainment and EUE/Sokolow. Production will begin in September in Prague with a 2017 premiere set for Nat Geo in 171 countries and 45 languages.
The 10-episode Genius will feature Flynn as Einstein in the years before he rose to international attention and acclaim. The drama will chart how an imaginative, rebellious patent clerk, who couldn’t get a teaching job or a doctorate, unlocked the mysteries of the atom and the universe. Each episode will explore Einstein’s scientific achievements, along with his volatile, passionate and complex personal relationships.
“National Geographic’s unwavering commitment to excellence and their support and passion for this project has helped us attract talent such as Geoffrey and Johnny. My excitement for this project grows every day, and I cannot wait to get started,” Howard said Monday in a statement.
The role marks Rush’s biggest U.S. television commitment to date. He previously won an Emmy for the title role in HBO TV movie The Life and Death of Peter Sellers. The actor is a four-time Oscar nominee for roles including The King’s Speech, Shakespeare in Love and Quills and won for Shine. Rush is repped by CAA and Bloom Hergott.
For his part, Flynn was nominated as the London Newcomer of the Year at the 2012 What’s On Stage Awards for his performance in The Heretic and also scored an Olivier Award nomination for Jerusalem. More recently, he starred in Martin McDonagh’s Hangmen and features Song One, Clouds of Sils Maria and Love Is Thicker Than Water. His TV credits include British series Lovesick and Brotherhood, and he also is the lead singer of English folk band Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit.