LOS ANGELES (AP) — A mild-mannered Brit delivered an Oscar knockout punch to Rocky Balboa.
Mark Rylance was honored Sunday as best supporting actor for his role as a Soviet spy in “Bridge of Spies,” denying the trophy to Sylvester Stallone for “Creed.”
Stallone was considered an Academy Awards sentimental favorite for bringing Balboa back to the screen four decades after playing the boxer in “Rocky.” He won the Golden Globe trophy over Rylance last month.
Rylance may be unfamiliar to American movie audiences but is a giant on the U.S. and British stage. He’s a triple Tony Award winner for the varied Broadway plays “Twelfth Night,” ”Jerusalem” and “Boeing-Boeing” and a two-time winner for Britain’s Olivier award.
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He tipped his hat to Steven Spielberg, director of the history-based “Bridge of Spies.” The movie stars Tom Hanks as an attorney who negotiates the exchange of Rylance’s character for Francis Gary Powers, a captured American pilot whose spy plane was shot down by the Soviet Union during a reconnaissance mission.
Spielberg is “one of the greatest storytellers of our time” and it was an honor to work with him, the actor said.
Backstage, the genial Rylance said he turned down an opportunity to be in a Spielberg film before. The director had cast him in 1987’s “Empire of the Sun” but let Rylance back out for a long-desired theater opportunity.
That particular season of plays “didn’t go that well, but I met my wife on the first day and now was able to work with Steven again, so it turned out to be an all-right call,” Rylance said.
He was asked to comment on his victory over Stallone but declined, praising all his fellow nominees and saying he considered himself a spokesman as much as a winner. Others in the category were Christian Bale for “The Big Short,” Tom Hardy, “The Revenant,” and Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight.”
Rylance, who’s said he wants to take on more screen work, has TV credits including the role of Thomas Cromwell in “Wolf Hall,” the drama series drawn from Hilary Mantel’s pair of award-winning historical novels. His upcoming big-screen projects include Disney’s “The BFG.”