Better known for his work on the English stage than for his onscreen roles, Mark Rylance made a name for himself on the American art house circuit in 2001 with his performance in Patrice Chéreau's controversial melodrama Intimacy. For his portrayal of Jay, a self-destructive bartender engaged in a torrid affair with a married woman, Rylance was required to strip off both his clothes and his emotional inhibitions. He earned raves for his efforts, as well as ribbing from the press in London, where he is the artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.
Born in Ashford, Kent, on January 18, 1960, Rylance grew up in Milwaukee, where both of his parents were English teachers. Although he was raised in the U.S., the actor felt a strong sense of British identity and returned to his home country at 18 to study theater in London. Accepted into the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Rylance was soon making a name for himself in productions of Hamlet, Henry V, and Much Ado About Nothing.