For Mark Rylance, Steven Spielberg to the Rescue (Sort of)


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Mark Rylance at a Golden Globes afterparty.

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Emily Berl for The New York Times

It’s been a dazzling past year for Mark Rylance, a bona fide star of screen and stage currently in the play “Nice Fish,” at St. Ann’s Warehouse. The multiple Tony-winning British thespian wowed audiences with his Emmy-nominated turn as Thomas Cromwell in “Wolf Hall,” based on the novel by Hilary Mantel, and then with his powerfully understated Oscar-nominated performance as Rudolf Abel in Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies.” Both onscreen roles also earned him Golden Globes nominations, and he won a Bafta for the “Bridge of Spies” performance this past weekend (He also is starring in Mr. Spielberg’s coming film “The BFG,” based on the Roald Dahl book “The Big Friendly Giant”). At the Globes last month, the Bagger chatted with the ever amiable Mr. Rylance, who was wearing a brown fedora with his tux, as he made his jolly way down the red carpet. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.

Q. So you’ve sold out and gone Hollywood. How does it feel?

A. Hahahha. How does it feel to be a sellout? Cheap, yeah, cheap and easy. An easy life. Wine, women and dance, that’s what’s ahead for me.

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You’ve had a great year between “Bridge of Spies” and ”Wolf Hall.” Does being onscreen feel like a different animal compared to being onstage?

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You know, the camera reads so much in your eyes and in your thoughts. I’ve always admired very minimal film performances, like Robert Mitchum, and people who really have a mystery to them. It was a great thrill to have the Thomas Cromwell part that Hilary wrote. She said, “Here’s the one who looks like a wall in the room.” All that’s internal thinking, with very little shown outside. I was excited when I got that part.

I’m glad I didn’t have to play it onstage actually. But I’ve been busy in the theater, since making these films, doing my wife’s play and making a new play that’s coming to St. Ann’s Warehouse. But it’s lovely to be moving between the two actually. It’s rather surprising to be so celebrated. Whenever I mention the other films I’ve made to Steven Spielberg, his eyes go a bit glazed. Because in his mind he’s rescued me — rescued me from the slums of the theater! You know, discovered me, bless him.

Bless him!

Yeah. Yeah. He’s lovely. He’s such a storyteller. Such an active man in the world too, you know. So active and thoughtful. He’s the real BFG behind it all.



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