Oscar Actors: Rylance, Mark–Bridge of Spies

MARK RYLANCE won the 2015 Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated Bridge of Spies.

He has been recognized for his work on both the stage and screen over the course of his illustrious career.  Among his many honors to date, he has won an Academy Award, three BAFTA Awards, three Tony Awards and two Olivier Awards.

He won his Oscar for his performance in Steven Spielberg’s 2015 true-life drama “Bridge of Spies,” for which he also won a BAFTA Award and numerous critics groups’ awards for Best Supporting Actor.  He also received Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award nominations for his portrayal of Russian spy Rudolf Abel in the film.

That same year, Rylance was honored for his work on the small screen in PBS’s acclaimed Tudor-era miniseries “Wolf Hall,” directed by Peter Kosminsky.  His portrayal of Thomas Cromwell brought him a BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor, Limited Series or Movie, as well as Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations.  He earlier won his first BAFTA TV Award, for Best Actor, for his performance in the Kosminsky-directed 2005 television movie “The Government Inspector.”

Rylance more recently reunited with Spielberg to star in the title role of 2016’s fantasy “The BFG.”  He will next be seen in the director’s much-anticipated sci-fi thriller “Ready Player One,” opening in March 2018, and he is also set to star in Spielberg’s “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara.”

Born in England, Rylance immigrated with his family to America in 1962 at the age of two.  In 1978, he returned to England, where he trained for two years at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.  The Glasgow Citizens Theatre gave him his first professional acting job in 1980.  Rylance went on to become the artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London for 10 years, from 1995 to 2005, and played a major part in creating its ongoing success.

In 2015, he returned to the Globe Theatre as King Philippe V of Spain in “Farinelli and the King,” written by Claire van Kampen.  Starting at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, the play moved to London’s West End, where it garnered six Olivier Award nominations, including one for Rylance for Best Actor.  In December 2017, the production is coming to Broadway, where Rylance will reprise his role.

Returning to the West End in 2016, he starred in “Nice Fish,” directed by van Kampen.  Rylance also co-wrote the play with Louis Jenkins, earning an Olivier nomination for Best New Play.  “Nice Fish” also enjoyed successful runs in Boston and New York.

Rylance wrote his first play, “I Am Shakespeare,” in 2007.  It premiered at the Chichester Festival Theatre under the direction of Matthew Warchus and was published in 2012 by Nick Hern Books.

In all, he has acted in more than 50 productions of plays by William Shakespeare and his contemporaries as well as many other playwrights on the stages of London, New York and other major cities around the world.  He won his first Olivier Award, for Best Actor, in 1994 for his work in Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.”  He took home his first Best Actor Tony Award for his performance in the 2008 revival of “Boeing-Boeing,” for which he also won Drama Desk and Theatre World Awards and earned an Olivier Award nomination.  He later starred in Jez Butterworth’s “Jerusalem,” initially in London and then on Broadway, winning both Tony and Olivier Awards for his role.  In 2014, he received dual Tony Award nominations, for Best Actor in a Play for “Richard III” and Best Featured Actor in a Play for “Twelfth Night,” winning the Tony for the latter.  He has also earned Olivier Award nominations for his work in “Twelfth Night,” “La Bête,” and “Arden of Faversham.”  The theatre companies with which Rylance has worked include the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal National Theatre, The Bush, The Tricycle, Shared Experience, and New York’s Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA).  He has also performed in a number of plays with his own companies, The London Theatre of Imagination (LTI) and Phoebus Cart.

On the screen, Rylance’s additional film and television credits include “The Gunman,” directed by Pierre Morel; “Days and Nights”; directed by Christian Camargo and produced by Juliet Rylance; “Anonymous”; “The Other Boleyn Girl”; “The Grass Arena”; “Intimacy”; “Angels and Insects”; “Love Lies Bleeding”; and “Institute Benjamenta,” for the Quay brothers.  He is also the voice of Flop in the BBC’s animated TV series “Bing.”

Rylance is an honorary bencher of the Middle Temple Hall in London; trustee of The Shakespearean Authorship Trust; an ambassador of Survival, the movement for tribal peoples; and a patron of Peace Direct, working for non-violent resolution of conflict.

In 2017, Rylance was knighted for services to Drama.