Geoffrey Rush received his second Oscar nomination for portraying Philip Henslowe in Shakespeare in Love.
Geoffrey Rush portrays Philip Henslowe the owner of the Theater where Shakespeare writes for. Henslowe is deep in debt, and desperately wants Shakespeare to write him a successful comedy to payoff his debtors. I should say right off that Rush really has a very limited role as Philip Henslowe. Like Ed Harris in The Truman Show I suppose most of the performance is in his character creation. Rush makes Henslowe a usually whimpering confused fellow constantly begging for things to be going his way, and he is a rather meek fellow in Rush's portrayal.
I would say really the whole point of Henslowe is just to be comic relief in the film. After all after just a couple of early scenes where he talks to his debtors, and tries to convince Shakespeare to write him his play, Rush mostly just has small reactions that are always suppose to comedic. I would say he overplay's the part with his sloppy way of speaking, and almost always surprised look, but really that is the point of Henslowe. Henslowe is just suppose to be a wacky character just for a couple of laughs nothing more. There is not any sort of drive to his character, or purpose besides that.
I guess one could argue he does a little more when he calls on the tavern crowd to be his actors, but even then Rush portrays in very much the same way. I would say his performance is repetitive but really but really there is always enough of a space between his short reactions that it is not. Rush is actually entirely fine in the role, he is sort of humorous, but not all that funny. I don't have problem with his performance, it's energetic, Rush certainly isn't boring, but there just is not anything special or notable in the role. Frankly if a supporting actor needed to be nominated here I think Tom Wilkinson probably would have been the better choice.