NEW YORK (AP) – Scenes from London were closed for most of the pandemic, Mark Rylance – one of the theater’s most outspoken actors and Shakespeare’s chief translator – made six films.
They cover a wide range. The billionaire in Adam McKay’s apocalyptic satire “Don’t Look Up.” Satan in Terence Malik’s upcoming film “The Way of the Wind.” “Bones and Everything” by Luke Guadannin. Tailor in the chamber thriller “Meeting”. Rylance even starred for free in a student film.
Rylance also starred in the quirky and charming sports film, “The Ghost of the Open,” by Craig Roberts, which Sony Pictures Classics will release on Friday in theaters. The 62-year-old actor plays a real-life golfer, Maurice Fleetcroft, a former shipyard crane operator with modest golf skills, whose perseverance in the British Open earned him a reputation as the world’s worst golfer. For Rylance, Fleetcroft, a kind of folk hero to perfection, received irrational dreams and amateurish cunning.
Rylance has long seen acting in sports. He compares his own instinct to how a professional footballer pulls to hit the ball. However, golf is not his sport. Courses in densely populated cities, he believes, need to be turned into parks. Rylance prefers volleyball, in which he plays as a warm-up before the show with fellow castes to prepare for a performance improvisation.
“The whole acting game is a transfer of a ball of energy between people,” Rylance said in a recent interview with Zoom.
And for Rylance, the hasty possibility of theater – “dancing with the audience”, as he calls it – has always moved him as an actor. Rylance is currently in the midst of a 16-week revival of Jerusalem, recreating his defining role as Johnny Byron’s “Rooster” in the Tony-winning play by Jess Butterworth, about a clash between outsiders and authorities and the rapid bulldozing of the camp.
On his weekend off the stage, Rilans reflected on “The Ghost of the Open World,” “Jerusalem,” and his relationship to acting, which is still evolving.
AP: You starred in films before Steven Spielberg’s “Spy Bridge,” but this 2015 film started a new chapter in cinema for you and boosted your fame in Hollywood. How has your attitude towards filmmaking changed since then?
RYLANCE: For those who like to play, to be in a play where I perform for three hours and in the company of actors for five and a half, six hours – because there are two hours of vocal warm-up, there are great volleyball games, there’s all the fun social dressing rooms because I didn’t cut myself off. It’s a society that’s just so much fun. While the film is now even more with COVID, you’re just locked in a caravan. The more famous you become, at least in America, the less confident people on the crew talk to you or even look you in the eye. It’s weird. And you get maybe one double, two if you’re lucky. I love watching movies. I just love watching movies. Most evenings I will watch something. I’m still discovering things. Joel Cohen had just introduced me to De Sic’s films, and this led me to rediscover Sophie Lauren, whom I had only seen in English-language films. It certainly wasn’t her native language, so you got her muted version. But when you see her in De Sico’s films like “Two Women” or “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” she’s just a diamond.
AP: During the pandemic, you made six films. Was it so you could keep playing while the theaters were closed?
Rylan: Yes, in part. I guess I was available. Also it was just a series of scripts that I really liked, including some students who wanted to make a film for £ 15,000 in Gloucester. I thought, “Damn, that sounds like fun. I’m not doing anything. ” I think I do it better. I still want to do less. I still look at (Robert) Mitch and Steve McQueen and many, many others, many women too, and admire how little they do, how much they trust the story. Perhaps in the case of Mitcham he can’t give (swearing) really, and that can be a very useful thing. It makes you pretty magnetic. I can’t do that. I really care about the movies I star in. When I watch “Outfit” or the little snippets of “Bones” I’ve seen, I still want it to shoot less. I still want to keep more cards on my chest instead of playing as clearly as I did.
AP: What attracted you to “The Ghost of the Open”?
RYLANCE: Oh, the script. History. The fact is that this is a true story. He reminded me a little bit of Jimmy Stewart’s character in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” because he did so much to encourage and help other people. And Don Quixote was in it too. Like he just never took someone else’s opinion of himself. He heard their opinion and then thought, “Well, they’re probably crazy. I know who I am and I know what I did today. ” I found it very adorable and I wondered if I could get a little of that. I mean, I have pretty much that. I’m not overwhelmed by trying to please other people, but I keep the criticism close to my heart, especially if it’s right.
AP: Some might interpret Fleetcroft as more of a trickster or a scammer, but you show it honestly.
RYLANCE: Well, go to YouTube and have a look. He has a wonderful morning interview, and I’ve probably watched it 150 times, looking, “You can’t be serious. You’re probably in a hurry. ” But I can’t find a crack in his sincerity and his faith in himself. I see neither a wink nor a flicker that would suggest he is pushing. All actors have their own root fool or clown. My clown is a particularly sincere fool. This is what I have access to and use. Partly this is what I bring to the team.
AP: Why is this your personal clown?
RYLANS: I’m honest and I’m a fool. (Laughs) It’s that simple. My family regularly laughs at my stupidity, my sincere stupidity. And my stupid sincerity, but it’s the more tragic side of my character.
AP: You said you might want to keep coming back to Rooster in “Jerusalem” every decade. Why?
RYLANCE: I have been fortunate to return to Hamlet several times in my life. At 16, at 28, 29, 30, 31 – these were quick returns – and then again at 40. Gradually my understanding of Act I decreased and Act V increased. I read about senior actors and actresses before filming acting. If they came up with a play, a play that was natural to them, or hit the pulse of the nation, they would revive it. I’ve always imagined that a movie star like Jimmy Stewart in “Wonderful Life” would revive it every few years the way we revive it looking at Christmas. I was curious to do that with Jerusalem. There was a small risk that it would be tied in time. But state and corporate control over humanity has only deteriorated over the past 10 years, and the hunger of the population for its indigenous soul in their savagery and connection with animals and plants and all that we are undoubtedly related to except the corporate world and the state world would like so that we can count on patented solutions for our needs – now this situation is even stronger. I am afraid that in 10 years everything will be the same, it will be even worse.
AP: Playing Rooster again was like putting on an old sweater, or are you all going through the process again?
Rylance: We had five weeks of rehearsals. We had eight or nine new members, and the people coming back are all different. We are all different. It’s not like a reissue of a movie. This is a live event. It’s like preparing an English football team for the season. You don’t just aim for one take that can then be used. You have to create it live every night as Miles Davis and great jazz artists never played just what they played last night. I mean, I realize how much I’ve learned in the last 10 years. I really feel stronger vocally, physically and psychologically than 10 years ago.
AP: Why so?
RYLANCE: Mountain. Loss. Lots of work, lots of life. I’m now 62. You get older and see more of the basic patterns going on, and distinguish what’s essential and what’s not.
Follow AP filmmaker Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP