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 Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books (1991), Patrice Chéreau's controversial melodrama Intimacy (2001), and Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies (2015; Academy Award and BAFTA) and The BFG (2016). Rylance has also won BAFTAs for his television work, specifically for the factual drama The Government Inspector (2005) and for his portrayal of Thomas Cromwell.
In 1990, together with his wife Claire van Kampen 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 in Much Ado About Nothing. Critics also lauded his performances in revivals of Gogol's Gamblers (1992) and Camoletti's (1923–2003) 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 was born in Ashford, Kent, but grew up in Connecticut and Wisconsin, USA. He began studies at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1978, and first appeared with the RSC as Peter Pan in Stratford in 1982.