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Geoffrey Rush Plays Dad on Screen and Off

Geoffrey Rush has scored the awards triple crown of the Oscar, the Emmy and the Tony, but it's his experience as a dad that informed his latest role as a foster father in Nazi Germany for The Book Thief, opening November 8 in select theaters.

Rush, who has a 20-year-old daughter Angelica and 18-year-old son James, took young French-Canadian actress Sophie Nélisse under his wing while filming the World War II drama, even helping Nélisse go a little "method" and (sort of) steal books to get into character as a girl who "borrows" novels to escape the horror of what's happening around her.

We had the chance to chat with Rush, along with Nélisse, at a press round table for the movie. Here's what Rush had to say about fatherhood and, yes, stealing.

How being a dad helped his performance...

"My daughter's just about to turn 21, but I can remember her in that period of being 12, 13 and going into puberty and young womanhood, and even though I adore [Sophie] ... I was always imagining that [she] didn't even look like Sophie," but his own daughter, instead.

What Rush has stolen...

"I'm a huge musical theater fan, and I took out from the library this big—it was back in the '70s when I was poor—I took out this big volume of Cole Porter lyrics, every lyric he ever wrote, and I didn't take it back on the due date. So, I steal Cole Porter lyrics. That's how maverick I am."

Movies or theater? Can he say which he loves more?

No, they're so different, but I've done a lot more theater in the last four or five years.

On conspiring with Nélisse's mom to help Sophie get into character (yes, her mom paid for the books)...

"Pauline [Sophie's mother] and I were in on it, and I said, 'I'll encourage Soph to do it and everything,' but I knew that she'd warned the shop staff. ... [Sophie] wanted to do that just to feel the adrenaline."

MORE: Vince Vaughn Reveals What Surprised Him About Fatherhood

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