Albert Einstein was not only one of the greatest scientists of all-time, he was also one of the most fascinating people. Reams and reams of paper have been expended telling Einstein's story, and there have even been a few movies about the famed physicist over the years. Now NatGeo is doing a deep-dive into the Einstein biography with their scripted series Genius, starring Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein and Emily Watson as Elsa Einstein.
Selling a scripted series about Albert Einstein to general audiences could be a tall task, even though the guy is a well-known and very interesting figure. NatGeo is off to a great start in their endeavor to make Einstein seem cool with the ad they have planned for the Super Bowl (the game itself is expected to be won by the Patriots, according to Madden).
Everything starts out exactly as you would expect in the spot, which you can watch above. There's a lot of old-timey decor. Einstein is fiddling around on a violin. Things seem perfectly period and genteel. Then things get a little weird as we realize that Einstein is playing the violin in his bare feet. And he's actually playing "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga, not a song you'd expect Einstein to play. At the very end, Rush gives a nod to that famous picture of Einstein sticking his tongue out. NatGeo CEO Courtney Monroe explained the thinking behind the spot:
“It’s a simple and engaging commercial that not only taps into the zeitgeist of Lady Gaga’s highly anticipated Super Bowl halftime performance, but also perfectly represents the surprising side of Einstein the series capture. We hope it will cut through the noise, force viewers to take notice and give this broader audience a glimpse into the National Geographic brand of premium content.”
The spot will reportedly play right after Gaga's halftime performance, maximizing the link between Einstein the rebel scientist and Gaga the rebel pop star. Given Einstein's affection for a certain other famous blonde, Marilyn Monroe, he probably would have enjoyed having Gaga over for a little tea and violin. Genius won't be the only show/movie running a preview during the Super Bowl, but it may have the most to gain by the exposure.
NatGeo is obviously very excited about Genius if they're willing to pay the exorbitant rates necessary to get their spot on-the-air during the Super Bowl. Will the ad, clever as it is, really be able to cut through the noise and grab the attention of people at Super Bowl parties who are busy talking, drinking and eating large amounts of nachos? NatGeo is banking that it will, and that Genius will catch on with audiences with its portrayal of a rebellious Einstein.
There is certainly more than enough fascinating material in Einstein's biography to make for an interesting series, and Geoffrey Rush is an actor who can definitely pull off the performance. Rush has done the eccentric genius thing in the past of course, having won an Oscar for playing pianist David Helfgott in the 1996 film Shine. Rush will tackle Einstein when Genius premieres on NatGeo on April 25th, 2017.