One of the many things to look forward to about this year’s Oscars — besides James Franco possibly doing a terrible hosting job and not caring about it — is the indomitable force of good times that is Geoffrey Rush. We last hung out with Rush on Tony night in 2009, as the newly crowned best actor (for Exit the King) conquered party after party until witnesses lost track of him around 7 a.m. And the possibility of watching him in action once again was the single reason (besides free food) that we went to a Baz Luhrmann–hosted dinner in honor of him at the Mandarin Oriental on Tuesday night.
A newsboy cap covering his bare scalp — shaved for his role in Gogol’s The Diary of a Madman, which just finished its run in Sydney and is now moving to Brooklyn’s BAM — Rush was cheery but had the air of a wit who has grown weary of being forced to talk about himself. During Madman’s Sydney run, Rush had taken innumerable 30-hour round-trip flights, shuttling between the Australia stage and his various promotional duties for The King’s Speech in the States. As soon as the Sydney production wrapped this Sunday, he flew to the Oscar nominees luncheon in Los Angeles on Monday, then partied that night at the Chateau Marmont with Mick Jagger and Lenny Kravitz, then hopped on a plane to come to New York for this Baz Luhrmann thing. “I’m such a slut!” Rush exclaimed.
And it doesn’t end! He’ll be in the middle of the BAM run for Madman during the Oscars, which means he’ll take the redeye out to Los Angeles (or even fly out Sunday morning), win or lose, hop on another plane, and be back onstage Monday night. The secret, he revealed, is lots of catnaps, a habit he’s passed on to his King’s Speech director, Tom Hooper. “I must admit that today for the first time ever we slept together,” Hooper told us. “On the plane. Side-by-side seats. And I can reveal that that amazing energy is supported by actual sleep. He didn’t snore. Or either we both snored and fell right to sleep or neither of us snored and we slept through that, too. It’s a mystery.”
Not that Rush is complaining. He’s had great triumphs, such as discovering a “hilarious” comment on a gay website that he and fellow Golden Globes presenter Tilda Swinton “looked like an aging lesbian couple at their 30th year prom reunion.” And he was in top form during a post-dinner panel about The King’s Speech on Tuesday night. When the moderator, Time editor Rick Stengel, started out with rather obvious questions, Rush shot back, “You could Google this and save a lot of time.” Later, he explained why neither he nor Colin Firth are Method actors: “I can’t subscribe to being in character all the time, because what if you do your best work at the craft services table?”
To our great disappointment, Rush said that owing to his BAM performance schedule, he’ll likely have to cede the crown of Oscars After-Party King to someone else. “I look after myself now,” he said. “I used to be slightly more of a party animal, but now I disappear into the night.” Boo! He did, however, confirm that we hadn’t been dreaming up his activities on that one glorious night out. “Oh, it’s probably all true!” he said. “I ended up with Lisa Lambert, who co-wrote The Drowsy Chaperone, and she and I sort of party-hopped. And we had this amazing night where we ran into Gerome Ragni, one of the authors of Hair and all the Hair kids. I don’t think my author driver could find me because we had sort of drifted off in a haze.” Had he fallen asleep on a couch at his final party, as rumor had it? “That’s a definite possibility,” Rush said. “Not that I remember. When you do eight shows a week, you do fall asleep at parties.”