English actor and director. In 1995 he became the first artistic director of the reconstructed Globe Theatre, London, a post he held until 2005. He has played leading roles in classical and modern plays with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). His films include Prospero's Books (1991), Angels and Insects (1995), and Patrice Chéreau's controversial melodrama Intimacy (2001). In 1991 he formed his own theatre company, Phoebus Cart.
As an associate actor at the RSC, Rylance found plenty of depth – Romeo, Iago, Prospero, Hamlet – and a great deal of attention. He received the 1994 Olivier Award for Best Actor for his role as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. Critics also lauded his performances in revivals of Gogol's Gamblers (1992) and Camoletti's Boeing Boeing (2008; Tony Award), as well as in modern plays including Sam Shepard's True West (1994), and Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem (2009; Tony and Olivier Awards for Best Actor). Rylance has also appeared in several television films, earning high praise for his performance as a kicked-about tramp in BBC2's award-winning The Grass Arena (1991), and in the feature films Institute Bejamenta (1994) and Loving (1995).
Rylance was born in Kent but grew up in Wisconsin, USA. He began studies at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1980, and first appeared with the RSC as Peter Pan in Stratford in 1982.