During the past eight years I have had the privilege of not only seeing British actor Mark Rylance on the London stage on many occasions, but meeting him, mainly at stage doors. I have also produced a similar number of drawings, which he has kindly graphed for me, often with a complimentary word or two, before getting on his bicycle and riding off to his South London home.
His many accolades, Tony, Olivier, BAFTA and now an Academy Award are acknowledgment to his brilliance. He is routinely described as the greatest actor of this generation and always receives the acclaim with grace and dignity… and usually his faithful black hat. I thought I don’t have a sketch of Mark with his hat! … so I did this one. Most of his memorable work has been on the stage rather than the screen. In fact he turned down a role in Steven Spielberg’s EMPIRE OF THE SUN to tread the boards at the National Theatre.
In a recent interview for the British GQ magazine, writer Ed Caesar described Mark in his intro as “a man powered by inner conflict and never more at peace than when the curtain rises.” But when he does do screen work, he really hits the mother lode. Mark eventually said ‘yes’ to Mr Spielberg, winning this year’s Oscar for his portrayal as soviet intelligence officer Rudolf Abel in BRIDGE OF SPIES and a BAFTA for his star turn as Thomas Cromwell in the BBC’s WOLF HALL.
Mark has returned to his beloved stage this winter, starring in his own play NICE FISH which he wrote with Louis Jenkins, directed by his wife Claire van Kampen. After a short run at the St Anne’s Warehouse in New York earlier this year, the production has transferred to the Harold Pinter Theatre in London’s West End, where I meet him again. No hat, or bicycle this time, but he did sign my ‘hat’ drawing with his inimitable style.