A man of style, class and serious acting talent, Victorian Geoffrey Rush has been announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard as the 2012 Australian of the Year. With 40 years as an actor under his belt including four Academy Award nominations, Rush’s award is well deserved.

The below release has been written and sent by the Australian of the Year Awards media office:

The Australian of the Year 2012, Geoffrey Rush, has now celebrated 40 years as an Australian actor, achieving the rare international distinction of the ‘Triple Crown’ – an Oscar, a Tony and an Emmy.

He also has three Australian Film Institute honours, three British Academy Awards, two Golden Globes, four Screen Actors’ Guild Awards, and last year was inducted into the ranks of Australia’s elite with a Helpmann Award.

Geoffrey was born in Toowoomba, Queensland in 1951, moving with his family to Brisbane in his primary school years. He completed a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Queensland and made his professional debut at the Queensland Theatre Company in 1971 where he worked as an ensemble member for three years. For the next 20 years he worked primarily in all the major theatre companies of Australia and, in the mid 1970s went to Paris to study at the prestigious Jacques Lecoq School of Mime, Movement and Theatre.

In the mid 1990s he began his film career. His performance as pianist David Helfgott in the film Shine put him firmly on the world stage and earned him his Oscar for Best Actor.

At the time he received his fourth Academy Award nomination playing Australian therapist Lionel Logue in The King’s Speech, which he also executively produced, the revival of Belvoir’s The Diary of a Madman played to acclaim in Sydney and in New York. In the past year, he also starred in and executive-produced Fred Schepisi’s film of Patrick White’s Nobel Laureate-winning novel The Eye of the Storm, and played Lady Bracknell in the Melbourne Theatre Company’s celebrated production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Seen as a creative mentor by many, Geoffrey supports young actors and arts companies. He is Patron of the Melbourne International Film Festival; of Toowoomba’s Empire Theatre Foundation distributing bursaries to young performers; and of the Spina Bifida Foundation Victoria. He is an Ambassador for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and UNICEF Australia.