BWW INTERVIEWS: Mark Rylance Of Jerusalem At The OLIVIERS 2010

Miriam Zendle talks to the Olivier Award-winning actor...

How do you feel to have got so many plaudits and praise for Jerusalem?

It's lovely. I've not really gone away from the stage but I was in America playing a farce on Broadway last year so I guess I've come back and done this play at the Royal Court. Certainly there were people who thought this was a very odd choice, after playing Broadway. But I've wanted to do this play for five or six years. It's a play for me that I thought would be a wonderful play and has turned out to be appreciated by so many other people. But to be celebrated on my own doesn't really make sense for me. It's like picking one member of a band and saying 'that person is it'. It's a very collective atmosphere, being in the theatre, and that's why I like it.

What do you think it is about Jerusalem that's made it so successful?

I think a lot of people write great plays and then what sometimes happens with a play like this is that it meets a need in the audience. I don't quite know what that need is. There's so many things in a play, lots of stories, a sense of a moment in the culture we live in, a confusion about identity. There's a ravaging of the countryside going on. A lot of popular culture, pubs, hills, wild places like woods and fields and lands. I think people are very confused and upset about that. The play deals with a lot of that and deals with a sense of what it is to be English and I think that is perhaps something felt very strongly by people. They laugh a lot and they are moved by the play. Jez just happens to have written a very good play, but with the play he's hit right at the moment with the topic he's interested in. He made a decision a few years ago to move out to the country and lived out of town when he wrote this play and imagined it. He observed what was going on in the town very closely and then wove it with a lot of magic into this play.

You normally recite Louis Jenkins when you win an award. Why not this time?

Best to keep them guessing! I learnt two Louis Jenkins poems which I do like to recite, but I particularly wanted to thank the director Ian Rickson tonight and thank the nominees for so strong a category. I just wanted to acknowledge them. Also, you don't want to repeat yourself too much.

Does doing such a long play take it out of you or have you learnt to maintain the stamina?

It is a very exhausting part, this part. It's like being a sportsman. You have to watch out for yourself - as you can hear, my voice is tired today!

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