Professor Albert Einstein is a main character and the protagonist of the first season of Genius, which chronicles his life. He was a German-born theoretical physicist, widely known for developing the theory of relativity and for being one of the greatest physicists of all time.
He is portrayed by Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Flynn.
In Munich, while daydreaming the secrets of the cosmos in his trigonometry class, Albert is awoken by his professor who demands his attention. Now with Albert's attention, the professor goes over the different proponents of trigonometry, but Albert again dazes off, which angers the professor who orders his immediate dismissal from the room for disrupting the class. Before leaving, Albert marches up to the board and easily answers the problem, to the professor's anger.
Later, while standing outside his school, Albert is approached by his father, Hermann, who angrily tells him that rebellion will get him no where, and to apologize to his professor. He then tells Albert that he needs this education if he wants to be successful, but Albert pleads to his father to let him study on his own; to solve the mysteries of physics abroad. Hermann goes on to tell Albert that the family's electrician business has become bankrupt and that the family, minus Albert, is moving to Italy. Before his father leaves, Albert is informed that he is to stay with his cousins until his studies are complete and then Hermann orders him to go back to school, which Albert does.
Back at school, Albert is bored of his repetitive studies and eventually suffers a nervous breakdown, which gives him an excuse to leave class to visit Dr. Talmut, the family doctor. Talmut tells Albert that he is fine. Albert tells Talmut that he yearns to leave Germany and pleads to the doctor to deem him medically unfit to finish school due to a nervous breakdown, which the doctor arranges.
Albert arrives in Milan to meet his family, but is quickly asked by an incensed Hermann why he wasn't in school, to which Albert answers by saying that he plans on attending Zurich Polytechnic in Switzerland instead. But, in order to attend university, he must first pass the entrance exam. Albert also wishes to stay in Milan to the dismay of his father who orders him to go back to Munich, but Albert states that he never plans on going back to Germany.
Albert takes the Zurich Polytechnic entrance exam, but after the exam, Albert is told by Prof. Heinrich Weber, Chair of the Physics department, that he had failed every subject, save for mathematics and physics. Albert pleads to Weber to let him attend to study only physics, but the professor denies such a request. Weber does, however, allow Albert to attend his classes, but since he wont be an actual student, Albert refuses. The professor then tells Albert to go and attend classes at a local school in Aarau, Switzerland to prepare for a second exam trial.
In the town of Aarau, Switzerland, Albert stays with Jost Winteler and his large family. The family enjoy debates at dinner, but Albert does not join in, believing that his opinions don't matter there. However, the family welcome his opinions with open arms. Albert also meets Jost's daughter Marie, and the two bond.
During a class, Albert ponders the existence of time and space. Later, he receives a letter approving his German citizenship renouncement. Marie finds this reckless, but Albert finds nationalism to be a disease and would rather be world citizen, which Jost agrees. Marie then goes with Albert to teach him literature and French, but Albert dazes off and finds an answer to his time and space question, and falls in love with Marie.
In Milan, Albert watches as his father Hermann and his uncle Jakob work on a electrician machine, but fail to power the generator. With his new found knowledge Albert solves all of their problems. Later, at dinner Hermann praises Albert's abilities and says he is proud of him. Albert's mother Pauline finds his courtship to Marie wonderful and his father thinks it would be good for Albert to join in the family business. However, Albert says he is not ready for marriage or has any intention of becoming an engineer, and he informs them that he is planning on retaking the Zurich Polytechnic entrance exam. Hermann is furious at his son's choices, but Albert says his choices are his alone and no one can change them.
Albert retakes the entrance exam and passes every subject. Prof. Weber also congratulates him and welcomes him to Zurich Polytechnic.
Albert says farewell to the Winteler family and Marie, though she is heart broken by him leaving. He promises to write to her and they say their goodbyes to each other.
Albert arrives at Zurich Polytechnic for his first day of classes. There, he enters a classroom where he sees a young woman (Mileva Marić) working, and he readily gives her his apologies for entering the wrong room as he is ignorant that the woman, a female, would be in his physics class. She, however, easily displays her intelligence to him and throws questions at him to why a woman could not handle such a class as physics. Before Albert could answer, however, Prof. Weber enters the classroom and introduces Albert to the woman who's name is Mileva Marić, saying that she was the only student to score higher than him on the mathematics portion of the entrance exam.
Albert is is taking his physics class and watches as Mileva questions Weber on the properties of energy and thermodynamics. Albert agrees with her, even going on to create an example with classmate's Michele Besso's pencils. However, he is quickly quieted by Weber, who informs him that theatrics have no place at Zurich Polytechnic.
Later outside the University, Albert approaches Mileva, wanting to discuss farther into their recent inquiries from class. However, Mileva not wanting any of it, berates him on why he supported her in class and that she doesn't need his attention. She also tells him that if he is trying to flirt with her, to end his advances because she did not come to University to find a husband. After one quick touch on Mileva's shoulder, Albert is angrily told to stay away from her. After Mileva walks away, Albert is approached by classmates Michele Besso and Marcel Grossmann, who wanted to tell him that they were impressed by his demonstration in class. The two invite Albert to lunch, and a friendship emerges.
In the spring, Albert is playing his violin and interrupts Mileva while she is working on a Kundt's tube. She asks him to quit playing due to its distraction, but he tells her the violin helps him think.
Albert works on his Kundt's tube, however, he burns his hand in the process.
Albert finds Mileva in the library and talk about Boltzmann and his book on kinetic energy. Albert and Mileva both agree that they'll get more information on the subject by reading about it, than listening to the teachings of Weber.
Weber tells Albert of his recent laziness in class and also tells him that the library is no place to woo a woman; showing that he knows that Albert has feelings for Mileva. Albert tells Weber that he barely knows her, and the former instructs him to keep it that way. Weber then tells him to be mindful of his studies and that come graduation he could help him secure a future in physics. Albert tells him that he will do his best.
At the Winteler household in Aarau, Switzerland, the family are celebrating Marie's birthday and Albert, Maja, and Michele have joined in and have dinner with the family. Jost celebrates Albert and his sister for being so close to family. He also thanks Albert for bringing Michele over, hoping for him to come to more dinners in the future. Lastly, Jost thanks Albert for his companionship with Marie.
After dinner, Marie asks Albert how he came to burn himself and Albert goes on to explain to her how in happened and brings up the physics behind it, but Marie begins to speak French to him, which Albert doesn't understand. Marie, who has no mind for physics, doesn't want to discuss science with him. Albert begins to have thoughts of ending his relationship with Marie.
Marie wants to come with Albert back to Milan, however, Albert says he is expected at Marcel's house on the lake. They say goodbye, but before Albert leaves, he is approached by Jost who tells him to remember his loyalties to Marie, as he is expecting a great deal from him.
Albert listens as Michele muses over Anna and tells Grossmann of there being another Winteler sister, even though Grossmann has no interest in a wife at the moment. Grossmann asks Albert about his relationship Marie, wanting details. Albert answers by saying that he sees no point in being in a relationship with a girl who can't carry on a scientific conversation. Grossmann informs Albert of Mileva's visit, calling her a "gimp", and gives her message to him, it being the book by Boltzmann they were previously discussing. Albert ponders having a relationship with Mileva.
Albert meets with Mileva and thanks her for the book and tries to start conversation. Mileva, knowing of his "engagement with Marie", tries to walk away but is stopped by Albert, who tells her of his feelings for her. Mileva thinks he is playing her, but Albert kisses her. Mileva stops it, saying their relationship is not a possibility and leaves.
Albert asks Weber if he knows anything about Mileva's absence in class. Weber informs Albert that Mileva left Zurich and is now at Heidelberg University auditing for classes.
Albert writes to Mileva and gives his apologies for driving her to Heidelberg, he also urges her to write back. She writes back only to relay to Albert the details of the lesson taught by Professor Lenard, which supports their thoughts on the kinetic theory of heat and gases, a question previously ignored by Weber.
Fueled by the contents of Mileva's letter, Albert debates with Weber during class. However, the professor, angered by his disrespect, takes Albert out of class. Albert goes to inform him that it was due to Mileva's letter and Professor Lenard's teachings. Weber again questions Albert's feelings for Mileva and tells him she is dangerous. Albert, however, tells Weber that all Mileva has done is display her intelligence to him and yet she is still thought of in disdain. Weber informs Albert that his only fault is he will never let himself be told anything.
Marie sends Albert a tea pot, but Albert sits it aside and plays his violin.
Albert congratulates Michele on his engagement with Anna Winteler. Michele also tells Albert to finally go forward and tell Marie his true feelings, however, before Albert could give a proper answer, he notices a returned Mileva Marić and chases after her. He finds her in the library and she tells him that she did not return for him, but to earn her diploma. She tells him that she has a lot to catch up on, however, Albert comes forth and says he will help her and says he loves her. After having sex, Mileva tells Albert that if she is just a side affair for him she wants nothing to do with him. However, he tells her she is the only one he loves, affectionately calling her "Dollie". Being late for class, Mileva is worried that it lower peoples expectations of her, being a woman in University. Albert assures her skipping one class will be nothing. While studying, they ponder the formations of molecules.
Albert leaves the room for a moment and Mileva finds a bundle of letters from Marie. In a fit of rage, Mileva yells at Albert , asking why he is still with Marie even after what they had been through. She wonders how he can be so careless with heart and tells Albert that he only cares about himself and has never tried to understand her. She then tells him that she has to work as hard as anyone else to have respect in University. Mileva tells him to never speak to her again and leaves.
Albert writes to the Winteler family, informing them of his ending his relationship with Marie. Marie is brought to tears by this.
Albert is given Geometry notes from the past two terms by Marcel. Albert then goes to Mileva and tells her of his ending things with Marie and gives her the notes given to him by Marcel. Mileva lets him sit with her to study for the upcoming final exams.
Professor Weber gives everyone their final exams to take. He also notices the appearances of Albert and Mileva in his class.
After the exam, Albert asks Mileva for her hand in marriage. She says no, seeing no possible outcome where that works out. Weber comes to them and informs Albert of his passing of the exam.
Whilst having sex with his secretary Betty Neumann, Albert proposes that she move in with him. After sex Albert is still waiting for an answer, but Betty ignores the question and goes over his schedule, which includes being late to a lecture and having dinner with Walther Rathenau. Albert asks again, and she reminds him of his wife Elsa, but Albert tells her that he doesn't agree with monogamy, stating that they are just rules set down by the church. He wonders why he can't love both Betty and Elsa, but Betty doesn't think he knows the slightest thing about people's feelings. The phone rings and Betty answers; it's Mileva Marić, who wants to speak with Albert. He dismisses the call and leaves for his late lecture.
Albert is teaching his lecture and asks his students "What is time?", stating it is the key to relativity, but an illusion. In order for his students to fully grasp the idea, he tells his students to close their eyes and imagine a light beam travelling though space, a demonstration taught to him by his professor from Switzerland when he was younger. After the demonstration, Albert continues to tell his class more on time and space, but is interrupted by an urgent man who says, to everyone's shock, that Walther Rathenau had been assassinated.
At home, Albert mourns his friend Rathenau who was planning on coming to dinner in mere days. The phone rings; it's Mileva, but Albert geos to his office before being told by Elsa to not busy himself on work, but mourn the death of his friend.
The Einstein's are informed by the police of Albert's name being on a hit list of Rathenau's assassins', and told to be weary of the growing nationalist, anti-Semitic movement in Germany. Elsa thinks that they should leave for America, but Albert does not want to leave Germany, stating that his life and work is in Germany.
Later, Albert is speaking to colleague Fritz Haber, who informs him that the nation has ordered a national holiday in Rathenau's remembrance and that leaving Germany would not be the best option for handling such a problem. Albert then goes to evaluate Fritz for being a devout Christian even though he was born a Jew; stating that men like Adolf Hitler will not tolerate even that. Albert shows Fritz a statement from Prof. Philipp Lenard saying that he should be bared from attending the Annual Conference for German Science, stating that his "Jewish-physics" have no place there.
During a parade for the mourning of Rathenau's death, Albert is noticed by Jewish citizens and praised for appearing at the observation. However, the parade is interrupted by Nazi brownshirts yelling to the crowd that Rathenau's assassins were German heroes. Elsa again tells Albert that they should leave Germany, but the latter states that if they leave the Nazi's will win.
Whilst playing the violin, Albert hears Nazi brownshirts outside his window and Elsa informs Albert of more reasons for why they should leave: reasons being that though Hitler didn't win the Federal election, he did gain 230 seats in the parliament. Albert then goes and gets tobacco and notices Nazi brownshirts everywhere. At the tobacco shop, Albert speaks with Ernst, the shop owner, and notices Mein Kampf on the counter. Ernst says it's only because people requested them.
Einstein watches in horror as a Jewish business man is beaten by Nazi brownshirts. After trying to settle the fight, Albert is spotted and chased down by Bruno, a young brownshirt, who wants an autograph from the scientist and claims to want to be just like him one day before being shooed away by an older brownshirt who spits in Einstein's face. He later goes to Elsa and tells her it's finally time for them to leave Germany.
While the Einstein's are packing the phone rings, but thinking it's Mileva, Albert dismisses the call, stating that he doesn't want to hear more bad news from her. Elsa tells him to answer the phone, and he does but it isn't Mileva, but the United States embassy wanting to ask Albert some questions.
At the embassy, the Einstein's meet Raymond Geist, the Deputy Counsel General. Geist asks what the purpose for them travelling to the U.S. was, and Albert tells him that he is giving lectures at the California Institute of Technology, and tells Geist that he should have already known that. The Counsel General then asks what political affiliation Albert is apart of, which the scientist thinks is a joke and tells him that it's none of his business. Geist then brings up Mileva Marić and asks if he's in contact with her, stating that her political background is "radical" and that Albert's history is full of controversy, putting into question his loyalties for the sake of the United States. Albert, however, tells Geist to take notice of the growing Nazi movement and the anti-Semitic slang directed towards himself and others, but Geist ensures Albert that the Nazi's are not in power and informs him that the reason why he's asking all these questions is due to J. Edgar Hoover, who is interested in Albert's controversy and politics and who will not let in America until his questions are answered.
Albert Einstein is a bit absent-minded, being very much in the "great with science, bad with people" mold, often baffled at why people react badly to his awkward social skills. Even in his later years, he stubbornly refuses to appreciate the true import of the growing popularity of the Nazis until it's almost too late to leave Germany.
Although brilliant, Einstein can also be quite lazy; Einstein's famous troubles in school are depicted as frustration at his professors' rote recitation of the accepted scientific principles of the time, refusing to listen to the possibility that they could be wrong.
Being his own worst enemy, Einstein's pride and inability to hold his own tongue almost always works against him in his early years — specifically his tendency to openly challenge his professors in class comes back to haunt him, since none of them will give him a good recommendation during his job hunt — not even Webber who was his greatest advocate originally.