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This 2001 biographical film showcases the life of John Nash, a Nobel Prize winner who transformed decades of game theory in mathematics. Directed by Ron Howard, the movie masterfully follows John’s personal journey of fame, love, and hardship. It highlights the human condition and how this brilliant man falls prey to it. The movie is set in 1947 and starts out with John as a graduate student at Princeton University. Years later, he teaches at MIT and marries his student, Alicia. At the onset of the Cold War, the Pentagon enlists him to decode Russian communications due to his genius abilities. Towards the end, this heart wrenching film illustrates John’s battle with mental illness and how he copes with life after it.

Russell Crowe exceptionally plays the role of John Nash. His love interest, Alicia, is acted out by Jennifer Connelly. Ed Harris was casted as William Parcher, the Department of Defense agent who recruits John to find hidden Russian messages. Another character is Charles, John’s roommate back at Princeton. This role is assumed by actor Paul Bettany. Towards the end of the film, John falls under the care of Dr. Rosen. Christopher Plummer portrays this role.

The movie was primarily filmed in New Jersey and New York:

  • Scenes were shot at Princeton University’s Holder Hall in New Jersey.
  • John and Alicia’s house is 100 Grand Street, at Washington Street, Paulus Hook, in Jersey City.
  • Harvard University is really Manhattan College in New York.
  • The Great Dome of MIT was filmed at the Gould Memorial Library of Bronx Community College. This same college was used as the hospital.
  • The mansion where Nash routinely visits to drop off his decoded work is Tara Circle Irish Cultural Center, Alder Manor in Yonkers, about 20 miles from NYC. This house was also seen in The Royal Tenenbaums, Mona Lisa Smile, and Flesh For The Beast.

Some interesting facts:

  • The film was shot in sequential order, which is not commonly done in moviemaking. The reason was to allow Russell Crowe to tap into his character’s development more easily.
  • It won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
  • The equations on the chalk boards were the actual equations written by the real life John Nash.