Sir David Mark Rylance Waters (born 18 January 1960) is an English actor, theatre director, and playwright. He was the first artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe in London, between 1995 and 2005. After training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, Rylance made his professional debut at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow in 1980. He appeared in the West End productions of Much Ado About Nothing in 1994 and Jerusalem in 2010, winning the Olivier Award for Best Actor for both. He has also appeared on Broadway, winning three Tony Awards: two for Best Actor for Boeing Boeing in 2008 and Jerusalem in 2011, and one for Best Featured Actor for Twelfth Night in 2014. He received Best Actor nominations for Richard III in 2014 and Farinelli and the King in 2017. He is one of only eight actors to have won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play twice while his nominations for Richard III and Twelfth Night in 2014 make him one of only six performers to be nominated in two acting categories in the same year.
David Mark Rylance Waters
18 January 1960
Ashford, Kent, England
|Education||Royal Academy of Dramatic Art|
|Occupation||Actor, theatre director, playwright|
|Height||5 ft 8 in (173 cm)|
Claire van Kampen (m. 1989)
Rylance's film appearances include Prospero's Books (1991), Angels and Insects (1995), Institute Benjamenta (1996), Intimacy (2001), The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) and Dunkirk (2017). He has garnered attention in the 21st century for his collaborations with director Steven Spielberg, winning the Academy Award and BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Rudolf Abel in Spielberg's Bridge of Spies (2015) and subsequently collaborating with the director to play the title role in The BFG (2016), a live-action film adaptation of the children's book by Roald Dahl, and James Halliday in Ready Player One (2018), based on the novel of the same name.
On television, Rylance won the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor for his role as David Kelly in the 2005 Channel 4 drama The Government Inspector and for playing Thomas Cromwell in the 2015 BBC Two mini-series Wolf Hall. For Wolf Hall, he also received Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominations. Rylance is a patron of the London International Festival of Theatre. He is also a patron of the London-based charity Peace Direct, which supports peace-builders in areas of conflict, and of the British Stop the War Coalition. In 2016, he was named in the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.
Rylance was born in Ashford, Kent, England, to Anne (née Skinner) and David Waters, both teachers of English. One of his grandmothers was Irish. Both his grandfathers were British POWs of the Japanese. His maternal grandfather, Osmond Skinner, spent decades as a banker with the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank. After being shot in the stomach during the Battle of Hong Kong, he was recuperating when he witnessed the St. Stephen's College massacre. He then spent four years in a POW camp. He was able to survive thanks to HSBC contacts who brought him food. Rylance has a sister named Susannah, an opera singer and author, and a brother, Jonathan, who works as a sommelier.
Rylance took the stage name of Mark Rylance because his given name, Mark Waters, was already taken by someone else registered with Equity. He returned to England in 1978. He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London from 1978–80 under Hugh Cruttwell; and with Barbara and Peter Bridgmont at the Chrysalis Theatre School in Balham, London. In 1980, he gained his first professional work at the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre. In 1982 and 1983, he performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in Stratford-upon-Avon and London.
In 1988, Rylance played Hamlet with the RSC in Ron Daniels' production that toured Ireland and Britain for a year. The play then ran in Stratford-upon-Avon. Hamlet toured the US for two years. In 1990, Rylance and Claire van Kampen (later his wife) founded "Phoebus' Cart", their own theatre company. The following year, the company staged The Tempest on the road.
Rylance played the lead in Gillies MacKinnon's film The Grass Arena (1991), and won the Radio Times Award for Best Newcomer. In 1993, he starred in Matthew Warchus' production of Much Ado About Nothing at the Queen's Theatre, produced by Thelma Holt. His Benedick won him an Olivier Award for Best Actor. For his role as Jay in Intimacy (2001), directed by Patrice Chéreau, he received real, rather than simulated, fellatio. He took the leading role as British weapons expert David Kelly in Peter Kosminsky's The Government Inspector (2005), an award-winning Channel 4 production for which he won the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor in 2005.
In 2007, Rylance performed in Boeing-Boeing in London. In 2008, he reprised the role on Broadway and won Drama Desk and Tony Awards for his performance. In 2009, Rylance won the Critics' Circle Theatre Award Best Actor, 2009 for his role of Johnny Byron in Jerusalem written by Jez Butterworth at the Royal Court Theatre in London.
In 2010, Rylance starred in a revival of David Hirson's verse play La Bête. The play ran first at London's Comedy Theatre before transferring to the Music Box Theatre on Broadway, on 23 September 2010. Also in 2010, he won another Olivier award for best actor in the role of Johnny Byron in Jerusalem at the Apollo Theatre in London. In 2011, he won his second Tony Award for playing the same role in the Broadway production.
He played Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall (2015), BBC Two's adaptation of Hilary Mantel's historical novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. For his performance, he was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie. Rylance was featured as the castaway on the BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs on 15 February 2015.
Rylance co-starred in the biographical drama Bridge of Spies, released in October 2015, directed by Steven Spielberg, and starring Tom Hanks, Amy Ryan and Alan Alda. The film is about the 1960 U-2 Incident and the arrest and conviction of Soviet spy, Rudolf Abel and the exchange of Abel for U-2 pilot Gary Powers. Rylance plays Abel and has received unanimous universal acclaim for his performance with many critics claiming it as the best performance of 2015. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch quoted, "As the deeply principled Donovan, Hanks deftly balances earnestness and humor. And Rylance’s spirited performance is almost certain to yield an Oscar nomination." David Edelstein from New York cited 'It's Rylance who keeps Bridge of Spies standing. He gives a teeny, witty, fabulously non-emotive performance, every line musical and slightly ironic — the irony being his forthright refusal to deceive in a world founded on lies." Rylance won the Academy Award, BAFTA Award, and New York Film Critics Circle Award in the Best Supporting Actor categories, as well as receiving Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, among other wins and nominations.
Rylance played the title role in Spielberg's The BFG, a film adaptation of the children's book by Roald Dahl. Filming took place in 2015, and the film was released in July 2016. In 2016 Rylance co-wrote and starred in the new comedy play Nice Fish at St. Ann's Warehouse, New York. The production subsequently transferred to the Harold Pinter Theatre in London's West End. Rylance had a major role in Christopher Nolan's 2017 action-thriller Dunkirk, based on the British military evacuation of the French city of Dunkirk in 1940 during World War II. The film co-starred Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy and Harry Styles.
In June 2019, Rylance resigned from the Royal Shakespeare Company due to its sponsorship deal with BP. He last appeared on stage for the RSC in 1989.
In 1995, Rylance became the first artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, a post he held until 2005. Rylance directed and acted in every season, in works by Shakespeare and others, including an all-male production of Twelfth Night, in which he played Olivia, and Richard III in the title role. Under his directorate, new plays were also performed at the Globe, the first being Augustine's Oak (referring to Augustine of Canterbury and Christianisation of Anglo-Saxon England) by Peter Oswald, the writer-in-residence, which was performed in 1999. A second play by Oswald followed in 2002: The Golden Ass or the Curious Man.
In 2005, Oswald's third play written for the Globe was first performed: The Storm, an adaptation of Plautus' comedy Rudens (The Rope) – one of the sources of Shakespeare's The Tempest. Other historical first nights were organised by Rylance while director of the Globe including Twelfth Night performed in 2002 at Middle Temple, to commemorate its first performance there exactly 400 years before, and Measure for Measure at Hampton Court in summer 2004. In 2007, he received a Sam Wanamaker Award together with his wife Claire van Kampen, Director of Music, and Jenny Tiramani, Director of Costume Design, for the founding work during the opening ten years at Shakespeare's Globe.
In 2013, Shakespeare's Globe brought two all-male productions to Broadway, starring Rylance as Olivia in Twelfth Night and in the title role in Richard III, for a limited run in repertory. He won his third Tony Award for his performance as Olivia and was nominated for his performance as Richard III.
On 8 September 2007 Derek Jacobi and Rylance unveiled a Declaration of Reasonable Doubt on the authorship of William Shakespeare's work, after the final matinée of The Big Secret Live "I am Shakespeare" Webcam Daytime Chat-Room Show, a play in Chichester.
The actual author of Shakespeare's plays was proposed to be Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford or Mary Sidney (Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke). The declaration named 20 prominent doubters of the past, including Mark Twain, John Gielgud, Charlie Chaplin and actor Leslie Howard, and was made by the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition duly signed online by 300 people to begin new research. Jacobi and Rylance presented a copy of the document to William Leahy, head of English at Brunel University London. Rylance wrote (co-conceived by John Dove) and starred in The BIG Secret Live 'I am Shakespeare' Webcam Daytime Chatroom Show (A comedy of Shakespearean identity crisis) which toured England in 2007.
Writer Ben Elton delivered a riposte to this "batty" premise in the episode "If You Prick Us, Do We Not Bleed" of his television comedy Upstart Crow. The great but "self-regarding and pretentious" actor Wolf Hall (played by Ben Miller) joins Burbage's acting company to play Shylock. The character Wolf Hall confronts Shakespeare (played by David Mitchell) with the suggestion that he didn't write his own plays; it is a satirical portrait of Rylance and his opinion.
Rylance is married to director, composer and playwright Claire van Kampen, whom he met in 1987 while working on a production of The Wandering Jew at the National Theatre. They were married in Oxfordshire on 21 December 1989. Through this marriage, he became a stepfather to her two daughters from a previous marriage, actress Juliet Rylance and filmmaker Nataasha van Kampen. Nataasha died in July 2012 at the age of 28, following which Rylance withdrew from his planned participation in the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in London and was replaced by Kenneth Branagh.
Rylance became a patron of LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre) in 2013. He said about the festival: "I feel LIFT has done more to influence the growth and adventure of English theatre than any other organisation we have."
Rylance became patron of the London Bubble "Speech Bubbles" project in 2015. "I found a voice through making theatre and am proud to be the patron of Speech Bubbles, which helps hundreds of children to do the same."
Rylance has been a supporter of the indigenous rights organisation Survival International for many years. He is the creator and director of "We Are One", a fundraiser that took place at the Apollo Theatre in April 2010. The evening was a performance of tribal prose and poetry from some of the world's leading actors and musicians.
Rylance is a patron of the London-based charity Peace Direct which supports grassroots peacebuilders in areas of conflict, and of the British Stop the War Coalition. He is a member of the Peace Pledge Union, a network of pacifists in the UK. He performed the life and words of Henri, a man living in war-torn eastern Congo, during a presentation in New York City in 2011. He is also patron of The Outside Edge Theatre Company. It works from the perspective of creating theatre and drama with people affected by substance abuse. It provides theatre interventions in drug and alcohol treatment and general community facilities throughout Britain, as well as producing professional public theatre productions that take place in theatres, studio theatres, and art centres.
Rylance has long been an enthusiastic supporter of Conscience: Taxes for Peace not War, which works to change British tax law to allow Conscientious objectors the right to redirect that portion of their taxes which would usually go to the military into non-violent methods of conflict resolution.
In November 2019, along with other public figures, Rylance signed a letter supporting Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn describing him as "a beacon of hope in the struggle against emergent far-right nationalism, xenophobia and racism in much of the democratic world" and endorsed him in the 2019 UK general election. In December 2019, along with 42 other leading cultural figures, he signed a letter endorsing the Labour Party under Corbyn's leadership in the 2019 United Kingdom general election. The letter stated that "Labour's election manifesto under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership offers a transformative plan that prioritises the needs of people and the planet over private profit and the vested interests of a few."
|1987||Hearts of Fire||Fizz||Richard Marquand|
|1991||The Grass Arena||John Healy||Gillies MacKinnon|
|Prospero's Books||Ferdinand||Peter Greenaway|
|1995||Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life||Jakob von Gunten||Brothers Quay|
|Angels & Insects||William Adamson||Philip Haas|
|2008||The Other Boleyn Girl||Thomas Boleyn||Justin Chadwick|
|2011||Anonymous||Henry Condell||Roland Emmerich|
|Blitz||Bruce Roberts||Elliott Lester|
|2013||Days and Nights||Stephen||Christian Camargo|
|2015||The Gunman||Terrance Cox||Pierre Morel|
|Bridge of Spies||Rudolf Abel||Steven Spielberg||Won Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|2016||The BFG||The BFG (voice and motion capture)|
|2017||Dunkirk||Mr Dawson||Christopher Nolan|
|2018||Ready Player One||James Halliday / Anorak||Steven Spielberg|
|2019||Waiting for the Barbarians||Magistrate||Ciro Guerra|
|TBA||The Last Planet||Satan||Terrence Malick||Post-production|
|2020||The Trial of the Chicago 7||William Kunstler||Aaron Sorkin||Post-production|
|1985||Wallenberg: A Hero's Story||Nikki Fodor|
|1991||Incident in Judaea||Yeshua Ha Nozri||Television film|
|1993||Love Lies Bleeding||Conn|
|1997||Henry V||King Henry V|
|2003||Leonardo||Leonardo da Vinci||3 episodes|
|2003||Richard II||Richard II||Television film|
|2005||The Government Inspector||David Kelly||Television film|
|2014–2015||Bing||Flop (voice)||78 episodes|
|2015||Wolf Hall||Thomas Cromwell||6 episodes|
|1996||The Two Gentlemen of Verona||Proteus|
|1997||A Chaste Maid in Cheapside||Mr. Allwit|
|Henry V||Henry V|
|1998||The Merchant of Venice||Bassanio|
|The Honest Whore||Hippolito|
|1999||Antony and Cleopatra||Cleopatra|
|2002||The Golden Ass||Lucius|
|2003||Richard II||Richard II|
|2004||Measure for Measure||Duke Vincentio|
|2012||Richard III||Richard III|
Awards and nominations
Rylance has received numerous nominations and awards for his performances, including wins at the Tony Awards and BAFTA Awards. At the 88th Academy Awards, Rylance won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Rudolf Abel in Bridge of Spies.
- Mark Rylance, Louis Jenkins: Nice Fish: a Play. Grove Press, April 4, 2017. ISBN 0-8021268-5-5.
- Mark Rylance: Play – A Recollection in Pictures and Words of the First Five Years of Play at Shakespeares's Globe Theatre. Photogr.: Sheila Burnett, Donald Cooper, Richard Kolina, John Tramper. Shakespeare's Globe Publ., London, UK. 2003. ISBN 0-9536480-4-4.
- The Wisdom of Shakespeare Series by Peter Dawkins (Foreword by Mark Rylance):
- The Wisdom of Shakespeare in As You Like It. I.C. Media Productions, 1998. Paperback. ISBN 0-9532890-1-X.
- The Wisdom of Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice. I.C. Media Productions, 1998. Paperback. ISBN 0-9532890-0-1.
- The Wisdom of Shakespeare in Julius Caesar. I.C. Media Productions, 1999. Paperback. ISBN 0-9532890-2-8.
- The Wisdom of Shakespeare in The Tempest. I.C. Media Productions, 2000. Paperback. ISBN 0-9532890-3-6.
- The Wisdom of Shakespeare in Twelfth Night. I.C. Media Productions, 2002. Paperback. ISBN 0-9532890-4-4.
- Peter Dawkins. The Shakespeare Enigma (Foreword by Mark Rylance). Polair, UK. 2004. Illustrated paperback, 476pp. ISBN 0-9545389-4-3.
- John Abbott. Improvisation In Rehearsal (Foreword by Mark Rylance). Nick Hern Books, UK. 2009. Paperback, 256pp. ISBN 978-1-85459-523-2.
- Dave Patrick. The View Beyond: Sir Francis Bacon: Alchemy, Science, Mystery (The View Series) (Foreword by Mark Rylance, Ervin Lazslo, Rose Elliot). Deep Books, UK. 2011. Paperback, 288pp. ISBN 978-1-905398-22-5.
- "Mark Rylance by Steven Spielberg: TIME 100". TIME.com. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
- "Mark Rylance: 'I remember bringing food to trees. Like bowls of milk and other things' ". Irish Times. Retrieved 23 March 2016
- "Mark Rylance: from Wolf Hall courtier to Steven Spielberg spy". Radio Times. Retrieved 23 March 2016
- Singh, Anita (4 December 2019). "My Grandparents' War, review: Mark Rylance's determination to see both sides made for an extraordinary film". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
- Cooke, Rachel (30 June 2013). "Mark Rylance: You Have To Move Into The Chaos". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
- Staff, Guardian (22 June 2001). "Dangerous liaisons". The Guardian.
- Adams, Tim (26 November 2006). "Tim Adams: Everybody's doing it..." The Guardian.
- "Wolf Hall". BBC Two. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
- BBC Desert Island Discs website "Castaway archive", 15 February 2015.
- Wilson, Calvin. "'Bridge of Spies' Spielberg is at his best".
- Edelstein, David. "'Bridge of Spies Is a Subtler Kind of Spielberg Movie'".
- Siegel, Tatiana (27 October 2014). "Three-Time Tony Winner Mark Rylance Nabs Lead in Steven Spielberg's 'The BFG'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
- Rickwald, Bethany (20 January 2016). "St. Ann's Warehouse Extends Nice Fish and A Streetcar Named Desire". Retrieved 30 March 2017.
- Longman, Will (16 September 2016). "Mark Rylance's Nice Fish extends by three weeks". Retrieved 30 March 2017.
- "Mark Rylance to star as Pope in Spielberg film". BBC. 12 April 2016.
- McNary, Dave (11 March 2016). "Harry Styles, Fionn Whitehead to Star in Christopher Nolan WW2 Action-Thriller 'Dunkirk'". Variety.
- Barlow, Helen (9 October 2018). "Johnny Depp on 'The Crimes of Grindelwald' and His Most Iconic Roles".
- "Rylance resigns from RSC over BP sponsor". BBC News. 21 June 2019. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
- Pierrette, Maximilien (8 September 2019). "Jésus par Terrence Malick : Mark Rylance et Matthias Schoenaerts au casting [EXCLU]". AlloCiné (in French). AlloCiné SA. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
- Doran, D'Arcy (8 September 2007). "Coalition aims to expose Shakespeare". USA Today. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
- Series 2, episode 3
- Low, Valentine (11 September 2018). "Mark Rylance ridiculed by upstarts over comedy of errors". The Times. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
- Moore, William (12 September 2018). "Much ado about Shakespeare's plays, but upstart Ben Elton has the last laugh". Evening Standard. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
- Schulman, Michael (18 November 2013). "Play On". The New Yorker. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
- Baker, Richard Anthony (1 August 2012). "Nataasha van Kampen". The Stage.
- Brown, Mark (6 July 2012). "Mark Rylance exits from Olympics opening after step-daughter's death". The Guardian.
- LIFT website "Olivier and Tony Winner Mark Rylance announced as LIFT Patron" Archived 1 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine, 23 May 2013.
- "Announcing Mark Rylance as the patron of Speech Bubbles". London Bubble. 27 April 2016.
- "We Are One a fundraising evening in aid of Survival International with performance of tribal prose and poetry from leading actors and musicians at Apollo Theatre 18 April". Londontheatre.co.uk. 8 March 2010. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
- Stop the War Coalition, "Stop the War Patrons, Officers and Steering Committee" Archived 7 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, 2016.
- http://www.edgetc.org The Outside Edge Theatre Company
- Dolan, Shaughan (6 January 2017). "Arise, Sir Mark Rylance!". Conscience: Taxes for Peace not War. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
- Neale, Matthew (16 November 2019). "Exclusive: New letter supporting Jeremy Corbyn signed by Roger Waters, Robert Del Naja and more". NME. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
- "Vote for hope and a decent future". The Guardian. 3 December 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
- Proctor, Kate (3 December 2019). "Coogan and Klein lead cultural figures backing Corbyn and Labour". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
- Taylor, Paul (8 July 1993). "Something out of nothing: Paul Taylor applauds Mark Rylance". The Independent. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
- "Nice Fish – St Ann's Warehouse". St Ann's Warehouse. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
- "Actor in a Supporting Role". Oscar.go.com. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
- "No. 61803". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2016. p. N2.
- Mark Rylance on IMDb
- Mark Rylance at the Internet Broadway Database
- Official homepage
- Interview on Farinelli (theatre play), Bridge of Spies (film) etc. Oct-2015
- Interview with Mark Rylance at the Globe on wisdom, Sir Francis Bacon, Shakespeare Jun-94
- Mark Rylance performing the Peacebuilder, Henri Ladyi, Congo
- doollee.com listing of Rylance's works written for the stage (subscription required)