Mark Rylance

Last updated on the 21 June 2024 by Evandrus

Mark Rylance headshot

Mini Biography

Born: 18 January 1960, Ashford, Kent, England. 

Mark Rylance is an esteemed English actor, playwright and theatre director. His early life was marked by a rich educational journey that began with his training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He made his professional debut in 1980 at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, setting the stage for a distinguished career in the performing arts.

The BFG - Ruby Barnhill and Mark Rylance
The BFG – Ruby Barnhill and Mark Rylance

Mark Rylance’s education played a pivotal role in shaping his approach to acting. His time at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art equipped him with the skills that would later define his nuanced performances both on stage and screen. This foundation allowed him to explore a range of characters, from historical figures to contemporary roles, with a depth and authenticity that have become his hallmark.

In the realm of film and television, Rylance has achieved significant acclaim. His portrayal of Rudolf Abel in Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies,” earned him an Academy Award and a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor. He has also been part of other notable projects like “The BFG,” “Ready Player One,” “Dunkirk,” “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Bones and All,” and “The Outfit.”

Wolf Hall - Mark Rylance and Claire Foy
Wolf Hall – Mark Rylance and Claire Foy

On television, Rylance’s performance as Thomas Cromwell in the BBC Two mini-series “Wolf Hall” was met with critical praise, garnering him a British Academy Television Award for Best Actor, as well as Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations.

Mark Rylance has been married to Claire van Kampen since 1989, whom he met while working at the National Theatre in 1987. Together, they share a life in South London. Rylance is also a dedicated pacifist and a patron of several organisations, including the London International Festival of Theatre, Peace Direct and the British Stop the War Coalition. His commitment to social and environmental causes is reflected in his decision to resign from his position as an associate artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2019, due to its sponsorship by an oil company.

Throughout his career, Mark Rylance has been recognised with numerous awards, including three Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards and three BAFTA Awards. His contributions to the arts were honoured with a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017. As the first artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe in London, he played a crucial role in the revival of interest in Shakespearean theatre from 1995 to 2005.


BAFTA award

WINNER | Television: Actor for The Government Inspector (2006) | Television: Leading Actor for Wolf Hall (2016) | Film: Supporting Actor for Bridge Of Spies (2016) 


Oscar award


WINNER | Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Bridge of Spies (2016)



Suggested viewing


Wolf Hall (2015)

Wolf Hall (2)

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.1

The year is 1500 and a young Thomas Cromwell escapes his abusive father, venturing out into the world. Years later, a cunning and well-traveled Cromwell finds himself in the court of King Henry VIII, serving as the right-hand man to the powerful Cardinal Wolsey. When Henry desires a new wife and seeks to annul his marriage, Cromwell becomes entangled in the king’s quest, navigating a treacherous court filled with ambition, religious turmoil, and whispers of dissent. As Wolsey falls from grace, Cromwell must use his intelligence and political acumen to not only secure his own survival but also rise to a position of immense power within the king’s inner circle.

Top cast: Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis, Claire Foy, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Joss Porter, Bernard Hill, Hannah Steele, Jessica Raine, Tom Holland, Kate Phillips.

Related to

The Tudors poster     Shardlake poster


The BFG (2016)

The BFG poster

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 6.3

The BFG tells the story of a young orphan who befriends a kind giant. Unlike the other giants who snatch children, the BFG whisks her away to a magical land. There, they travel together and learn about the BFG’s special ability to catch dreams and blow them out to sleeping children. Together, they face danger and adventure as they try to stop the other evil giants from their monstrous activities.

Top cast: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Rebecca Hall, Jemaine Clement, Bill Hader, Penelope Wilton, Marilyn Norry, Chris Shields, Matt Frewer.

The Outfit (2022)

The Outfit poster

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 7.2

Set in Chicago after World War II, a skilled tailor finds himself entangled with a ruthless mob family who use his shop as a front for their operations. When a dangerous situation involving a hidden informant and a mysterious recording arises, the tailor is drawn deeper into the criminal world. He must use his wits and grapple with deadly situations to survive the night, all while protecting those he cares about.

Top cast: Mark Rylance, Zoey Deutch, Johnny Flynn, Dylan O’Brien, Simon Russell Beale, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Alan Mehdizadeh, Johnathan McClain, Scoop Wasserstein.

Leonardo (2003)

Leonardo poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.9

The miniseries explores the life of Leonardo da Vinci, portraying him from his early years as a curious boy to his time as a renowned artist and inventor. It delves into his struggles and triumphs, showcasing his artistic genius alongside his battles against societal limitations and the skepticism surrounding his innovative ideas. The series depicts his journey through Renaissance Italy, highlighting his encounters with influential figures and the inspirations that fueled his remarkable creativity.

Top cast: Mark Rylance.

Similar to

Leonardo poster

The Government Inspector (2005)

The Government Inspector poster

Bftv 9.5 / IMDb 7.5

The Government Inspector dramatises the true story of David Kelly, a British weapons inspector caught in the middle of the controversy surrounding the Iraq War. The film follows Kelly as he questions the intelligence used to justify the war and becomes entangled in a media firestorm after anonymously speaking out about the government’s manipulation of evidence.

Top cast: Mark Rylance, Jonathan Cake, Emma Fielding, Daniel Ryan, Geraldine Alexander, Georgina Rylance, James Larkin, Julian Wadham, Pip Torrens.

Mark Rylance full filmography @ Wikipedia
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