Mark Rylance

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Mark Rylance
Mark Rylance NYC.png
Rylance at the Belasco Theatre in October 2013
BornDavid Mark Rylance Waters
(1960-01-18) 18 January 1960 (age 55)
Ashford, Kent, England
OccupationActor, theatre director, playwright
Years active1980–present
Spouse(s)Claire van Kampen (1989–present)[1]
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Mark Rylance
Mark Rylance NYC.png
Rylance at the Belasco Theatre in October 2013
BornDavid Mark Rylance Waters
(1960-01-18) 18 January 1960 (age 55)
Ashford, Kent, England
OccupationActor, theatre director, playwright
Years active1980–present
Spouse(s)Claire van Kampen (1989–present)[1]

David Mark Rylance Waters (born 18 January 1960), known professionally as Mark Rylance, is an English actor, theatre director, and playwright. He has appeared in films such as Prospero's Books (1991), Angels and Insects (1995), Institute Benjamenta (1996), and Intimacy (2001), and has won Olivier Awards, Tony Awards, and a BAFTA Award. He was the first Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe in London, from 1995 to 2005. In 2015 he played Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall, BBC Two's adaptation of Hilary Mantel's historical novels. He stars with Tom Hanks in Steven Spielberg's upcoming film about the 1960 U-2 incident involving Francis Gary Powers entitled Bridge of Spies.

Early life[edit]

Rylance was born in Ashford, Kent, the son of Anne (née Skinner) and David Waters, both English teachers. His parents moved to Connecticut in 1962 and Wisconsin in 1969, where his father taught English at the University School of Milwaukee. Rylance later attended this school, where he began acting. His first notable role was in a 1976 production of Hamlet (with his father playing the First Gravedigger), and he later played Romeo in the school's production of Romeo and Juliet.


Rylance took the stage name of Mark Rylance because his original choice, Mark Waters, was already taken by someone else registered with Equity. He won a scholarship by audition to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) in London. There he trained from 1978–80 under Hugh Cruttwell, and with Barbara Bridgmont at the Chrysalis Theatre School in Balham, London. In 1980, he got 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' acclaimed production that toured Ireland and Britain for a year. The play then ran in Stratford-upon-Avon, where Rylance alternated Hamlet with Romeo in the production of Romeo and Juliet that inaugurated the rebuilt Swan Theatre in Stratford. Hamlet toured to the United States 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 in unique, unusual sites.

Also in 1991, Rylance played the lead in Gillies Mackinnon's film The Grass Arena, and won the BBC 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. In 2005, he took the leading role as British weapons expert David Kelly in Peter Kosminsky's The Government Inspector, an award-winning Channel 4 production for which he himself 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 subsequently won Drama Desk and Tony Awards for his performance. For his acceptance speech for the latter, he recited a work by poet Louis Jenkins. 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 (for his acceptance speech, he again recited a Louis Jenkins poem). In a 2012 interview, Stephen Fry stated that he believed Rylance to be the best stage actor in the world.

It was announced in October 2014 that Rylance would star in the title role of The BFG, director Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of the children's book by Roald Dahl. Filming was set to begin filming in 2015 with release scheduled the next year.[2]

In 2015 he played Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall, BBC Two's adaptation of Hilary Mantel's historical novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.[3]

Globe Theatre[edit]

In 1995, Rylance became the first Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, a post he filled until 2005. Rylance directed and acted in every season, in works by Shakespeare and others, notably in all-male productions of Twelfth Night where he starred as Olivia, and Richard II where he took the title role. Under his directorate, new plays were 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 performed for the first time: 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 2013 the Globe Theatre 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.

Shakespeare controversy[edit]

On 8 September 2007 Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance unveiled a Declaration of Reasonable Doubt on the authorship of Shakespeare's work, after the final matinée of I am Shakespeare, a play in Chichester, Sussex.

The actual author was proposed to be Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, the Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere or Mary Sidney (Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke). The declaration named 20 prominent doubters of the past, including Mark Twain, Orson Welles, John Gielgud and Charlie Chaplin (although many of these 'historical doubters', such as Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Leslie Howard, were not doubters, with the declaration editing quotes and taking comments out of context) 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.[4] 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.

Personal life[edit]

Rylance is married to the musical director, director, composer and playwright Claire van Kampen. They started dating in 1987 while working on a production of The Wandering Jew at the National Theatre, and married in Oxfordshire on 21 December 1989.[1] He has a sister named Susannah, an opera singer and author, and a brother, Jonathan, who works as a sommelier at Alice Waters' (no relation)[5] restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, famous for creating the California cuisine using local organic food.[6] His stepdaughter is actress Juliet Rylance, who is married to actor Christian Camargo. His younger stepdaughter, filmmaker Nataasha van Kampen, died in July 2012 at the age of 28, as a result of which Rylance withdrew from his planned participation in the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.[7] He was replaced by Kenneth Branagh.[8]

Rylance has been a supporter of the indigenous rights organisation Survival International for many years.[9] 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. He has said: "As a child, I was enriched and inspired by the lives and stories of the world's tribal peoples. As an adult, I have also been inspired by the ceaseless work of the organisation Survival International, and their movement to protect these tribes – from the rainforest of the Amazon to the icy reaches of the Arctic. To celebrate 40 years of Survival's work and enjoy the beauty of the spoken word from such rich oral cultures, I am gathering my friends from the theatre on the set of Jerusalem for a wonderful spring afternoon of eloquent recitals and stunning images from 'We Are One'."

Rylance is a patron of Peace Direct. He performed the life and words of Henri, described as "an extraordinarily brave and charismatic 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 believes it to be "proper initiatory old style theatre".

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."[10]

Rylance featured as the castaway on the long-running BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs on 15 February 2015.[11]



YearPeriodTheatrical PerformanceTheatrical CharacterTheatre of PerformanceAccolades
1981Desperado CornerCitizens' Theatre, Glasgow
1982The TempestAriel(Performing with the RSC)
Romeo and JulietRomeo
1993Henry VHenry VTFANA, New York
Much Ado About NothingBenedickQueens TheatreWon the Olivier Award for Best Actor
1994As You Like ItTouchstoneTFANA, New York
True WestLee/AustinDonmar Warehouse
1995MacbethMacbethGreenwich Theatre
2000Live x 3HenryRoyal National Theatre
2007Boeing BoeingRobertComedy TheatreNominated for the Olivier Award in 2008 for Best Actor
I am ShakespeareFrankUK tour
2008Peer GyntPeer GyntGuthrie Theater, Minneapolis
Boeing BoeingRobertLongacre Theatre, NYCWon 2008 Tony Award, Best Actor in a Play
2009Jul-AugJerusalem by Jez ButterworthJohnny ByronRoyal Court TheatreWon 2009 Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Actor
Oct-DecEndgame by Samuel BeckettHammDuchess Theatre
2010Jan-AprJerusalem by Jez ButterworthJohnny ByronApollo TheatreWon the Olivier Award for Best Actor
Jun-AugLa Bete by David HirsonValereComedy TheatreNominated for the Olivier Award in 2011 for Best Actor
Sept-FebMusic Box Theatre, Broadway
Apr-AugJerusalem by Jez ButterworthJohnny ByronMusic Box Theatre, BroadwayWon 2011 Tony Award, Best Actor in a Play
Oct-JanApollo Theatre
2012Nov-Feb 2013alternating in Richard III and Twelfth NightRichard III / OliviaApollo Theatre

Nice Fish by Mark Rylance and Louis Jenkins

RonGuthrie Theater
2013Oct-Febalternating in Richard III and Twelfth NightRichard III / OliviaBelasco Theatre, BroadwayWon 2014 Tony Award, Best Featured Actor in a Play (Twelfth Night)
2014Nominated 2014 Tony Award, Best Actor in a Play (Richard III)

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre[edit]

Along with Rylance's stage performances, he has had many appearances at the recently recreated Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in Southwark, London on the South Bank of the River Thames. Noted for being one of the finest Shakespearean actors of recent times; his performances at Shakespeare's Globe are noted for being amongst his finest works.

1996The Two Gentlemen of VeronaProteus
1997A Chaste Maid in CheapsideMr. Allwit
1997Henry VHenry V
1998The Merchant of VeniceBassanio
1998The Honest WhoreHippolito
1999Antony and CleopatraCleopatra
2002The Golden AssLucius
2002Twelfth NightOliviaOlivier Critics Award
2003Richard IIRichard II
2004Measure for MeasureDuke Vincentio
2005The TempestProspero
2005The StormDaemones
The Weather
2012Richard IIIRichard III
2012Twelfth NightOlivia



1985The McGuffinGavin
1987Hearts of FireFizz
1991The Grass ArenaJohn HealyBBC Radio Times Award for Best Newcomer
1991Prospero's BooksFerdinand
1995Institute BenjamentaJakob von Gunten
1995Angels & InsectsWilliam Adamson
2000William ShakespeareArtistic DirectorShakespeare's Globe
2005The Government InspectorDavid KellyBAFTA
2008The Other Boleyn GirlThomas Boleyn
2013Days and NightsStephen
2014The GunmanCox
2015St. James Placefilming
2016The BFGThe BFGpre-production


1985Wallenberg: A Hero's StoryNikki Fodor
1993Love Lies BleedingConn
1995LovingCharlie Raunce
1997Henry VKing Henry V
2001Changing StagesHimself
2003LeonardoLeonardo da Vinci
2003Richard IIRichard II
2003Celebrity Naked AmbitionHimself
2014"Bing"Flop (Voice of)
2015Wolf HallThomas Cromwell



  1. ^ a b Schulman, Michael (18 November 2013). "Play On". The New Yorker. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  2. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (27 October 2014). "Three-Time Tony Winner Mark Rylance Nabs Lead in Steven Spielberg's 'The BFG'". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  3. ^ "Wolf Hall". BBC Two. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 
  4. ^ Doran, D'Arcy (8 September 2007). "Coalition aims to expose Shakespeare". USA Today. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  5. ^ The Guardian. 1 July 2013  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Cooke, Rachel (30 June 2013). "Mark Rylance: You Have To Move Into The Chaos". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  7. ^ Baker, Richard Anthony (1 August 2012). "Nataasha van Kampen". The Stage. 
  8. ^ The Guardian. 6 July 2012  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ "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". 8 March 2010. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  10. ^ LIFT website "Olivier and Tony Winner Mark Rylance announced as LIFT Patron", 23 May 2013.
  11. ^ BBC Desert Island Discs website "Castaway archive", 15 February 2015.

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