Mark Rylance was born in 1960 in Ashford, Kent in England. During his time at school, Rylance starred in the majority of school productions including the title roles in Romeo & Juliet and Hamlet. Returning to the UK in 1978 after growing up in the USA, he trained at RADA and joined Glasgow Citizen's Theatre in 1980. He also joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1982 where he performed in Stratford and London.
In 1995, he was appointed as the first artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe, a role he held for a decade. During this period, he would appear and direct in every season, with works from Shakespeare, his contemporaries as well as new plays written especially for the Globe.
2007 saw him perform in Boeing Boeing at the Harold Pinter Theatre, which would then transfer to Broadway in 2008. For his role in Jerusalem at the Royal Court in 2009, he won the Best Actor Award from the Critic's Circle Theatre. This was followed in 2010 by a transfer to the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, for which he received the Oliver Award for Best Actor. A Broadway transfer followed in 2011 for which Rylance received the Tony Award for Best Actor.
In 2012 he returned to Shakespeare's Globe for an all-male production of Twelfth Night alongside Stephen Fry, and taking the lead role in a production of Richard III. Both productions transferred to the West End at the Apollo Theatre. He collaborated with poet Louis Jenkins on the play Nice Fish.
In 2015, he played Thomas Cromwell in the BBC's adaptation of Wolf Hall alongside Damien Lewis as King Henry VIII. He also appeared in Bridge of Spies directed by Stephen Spielberg opposite Tom Hanks, for his role as Rudolf Abel he received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He would go onto to work with Spielberg again in his adaptation of Roald Dahl's The BFG, and will also appear in his adaptation of Ready Player One.
In 2023, Rylance will star in Dr Semmelweis at the Harold Pinter Theatre. He'll play the title character, a Hungarian doctor whose pioneering medical ideas were left untouched for decades.