|The cast of Genius (National Geographic Channel)|
TVNational Geographic Channel premieres its first scripted series about the life of Albert Einstein in Genius this Tuesday, April 25. Executively produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, Genius was filmed in Prague, Czech Republic, where Einstein lived and taught early in his career. The story begins with the young, imaginative and often rebellious thinker struggling to be recognized by the establishment through his rock star-like celebrity states as the man who came up with the theory of relativity. However, the series doesn’t intend to sugarcoat any aspect of this life and instead, will bring to light his difficulties dealing with those closest to him including his children, his two wives and even his mistresses.
Jumping back and forth in time about the life of a younger and older Einstein, keeping track of all of the characters in Genius can get a little confusing. Here’s a “who’s who” provided by National Geographic Channel to help you keep them all straight.
Professor Einstein/Younger Einstein
Played by Geoffrey Rush/Johnny Flynn
Generally considered the most influential physicist of the 20th century, Albert Einstein was a German-born scientist who developed the special and general theories of relativity. He was also an eternally curious, sexually charged, impudent rebel who bristled against authority.
Played by Robert Lindsay
Einstein’s father, Hermann Einstein, was an old-fashioned and stern man who wanted to see his son succeed in the traditional way—graduate high school, study engineering and join the family electrical company. Albert refused to do all three, thus sparking a contentious relationship that lasted until Hermann’s untimely death at 55. He never survived to see young Einstein succeed.
Played by Claire Rushbrook
Pauline was the overly doting, opinionated and meddling mother of Albert Einstein. She only wanted ‘what was best’ for her son and vehemently rejected his first wife, Mileva Maric. She survived to see her son become world famous.
Played by Emily Watson
Einstein’s first cousin and second wife, Elsa, began a relationship with Einstein in 1912 when he escaped his toxic marriage to Mileva Maric. Elsa was Mileva’s polar opposite— maternal and willing to live in Einstein’s shadow. A confident business manager and savvy publicist, Mileva handled all of Einstein’s travel, accounting, and interactions with the press, in many ways helping him become the international celebrity he is remembered as.
Played by Samantha Colley
Serbian physics student at Zurich Polytechnic who became Albert’s first wife. Mother of Hans Albert, Eduard and Lieserl. Passionate and driven, but also brooding and increasingly gloomy, she triumphed over many of the obstacles that then faced an aspiring female physicist. Divorced Albert in 1919.
Dr. Phillip Lenard
Played by Michael McElhatton
Nobel winning Hungarian-German physicist, Dr. Phillip Lenard was Einstein’s nemesis. His research on cathode rays would lead to Einstein’s ground-breaking (and Nobel winning) discovery of the quantum effect. Lenard became a virulent skeptic of Einstein’s relativity theory and a vocal anti-Semite, eventually joining the Nazi Party.
Played by Seth Gabel
An engaging, but unfocused engineer, Michele Besso was Albert Einstein’s closest friend. He met Einstein in Zurich, then followed him to work at the Bern patent office. Married Anna Winteler, sister of Einstein’s first girlfriend.
Played by Richard Topol
A brilliant German chemist and gas warfare pioneer, Fritz Haber, spearheaded the recruitment of Einstein to Berlin and mediated between him and Maric, Haber and Einstein became fast friends, despite their differences in politics. A Jew who converted to Christianity in an attempt to be a good German, he preached to Einstein the virtues of assimilation until the Nazis came to power.
Played by Shannon Tarbet
Marie Winteler was a beautiful, happygo-lucky schoolteacher from a good Swiss family. Upon finishing teacher’s college, the sixteen-year old Einstein stole her heart. They would be each other’s first serious relationship, but Marie could not keep up with Einstein’s brain. When Einstein dumped her to be with Mileva Maric, his intellectual equal, Marie was left heart-broken.
Played by Vincent Kartheiser
Raymond Geist was an American Consul General stationed at the US embassy in Berlin. By stroke of luck, his boss was on vacation, leaving him the nerve-wracking job of processing Albert Einstein. When the two first met, Geist viewed Einstein as a potential threat to American security, but in the end, he came to respect the brilliant scientist.
Played by Charity Wakefield
Betty was a young and impressionable woman who found herself romantically entangled with the most famous scientist in the world. What began as a fling quickly developed into a serious affair, with Einstein trying to convince Betty to move in with him and his second wife. Betty had to be the bigger person and bring Einstein back to reality, thus ending the affair.