Mark Rylance Plays the World’s Worst Golfer in ‘Phantom of the Open’

Mark Rylance as Maurice Flitcroft in ‘The Phantom of the Open’ Nick Wall

Mark Rylance—now, Sir Mark Rylance, if you will—is no stranger to superlatives. All the august groups—Tonys, Oscars, Oliviers—have thrown prizes at him for a long time. Ideal Actor. Most effective Supporting Actor. So it’s possible it was unavoidable he’d perform his way down to World’s Worst Golfer. 

That, really, is 1 Maurice Flitcroft, a.k.a. The Phantom of the Open in the British biopic of that title arriving June 3 in New York and Los Angeles, starring Rylance in the title position. 

A humble but aspiration-pushed shipyard crane operator from Barrow-in-Furness, Flitcroft made the decision at age 46 to switch professions and chose to become—presto! just like that—a skilled golfer mainly because he considered the activity seemed so effortless on the telly. He bluffed his to a location in the qualifying spherical of the 1976 British Open Gold Championship and, obtaining never ever played a spherical of golf ahead of in his lifestyle, racked up the worst rating in Open heritage (we’re speaking triple digits here—not to put way too great a point on it, but it came to 121).

In the fallout that adopted, golfing’s elite acquired their dander up and barred Flitcroft for lifetime from the Open up. He was likewise shunned from all the golfing classes in the region, forcing him to follow at a local grammar college class. The rest of the planet found the charade a hoot and elevated Flitcroft to people-hero status. A Maurice Flitcroft Gold Event was established in Grand Rapids, MI and was frequented by all the Flitcrofts.

An undaunted dreamer, our hero continued to enter tournaments back residence, resorting to disguises and aliases like Gene Pececki and Arnold Palmtree, a lot to management’s chagrin. 

The outlandish legend of Maurice Flitcroft eluded Rylance, but, the moment he read about it, he fell for it wholeheartedly. “I always like outsiders and underdogs,” he makes it possible for. “I’m a great lover of Jimmy Stewart in It is a Superb Lifetime. There is one thing of that in this—someone who encourages everybody else and then has to sail in opposition to the wind, so to speak, to persuade himself.

“There’s also a form of Don Quixote-tilting-at-windmills facet that captivated me to him. He doesn’t at any time give into other people’s belief of him. He’s created up his have thoughts who he is.”

Flitcroft died in 2007 at the age of 77 but remaining guiding a whole lot of YouTube interviews for Rylance to examine. “I preserve thinking he must be obtaining a joke on the earth. I have viewed him over and about and more than again, and I can’t seriously see that. He would seem to be wholly honest in his belief that he is as very good as any of the major golfers of the day—and this just takes place to be an unlucky working day.“

Rylance invests a sure purity in the character, so as not to wake him from a aspiration, but the actor commonly admits that is not the total tale. “In reality, Flitcroft was a small extra violent. He could truly manage his fists perfectly and would not shy absent from a swing at a 6-foot-tall fellow if the fellow was performing a thing that he deemed improper. We never go into that substantially in the film.”

Obtaining back to the game for the first time since quality school, Rylance experienced no difficulty convincing folks he was the worst golfer in the earth. “Occasionally, I’d hit a little something that landed on the green, and I was thrilled—absolutely thrilled—and I joked to the crew that that was my conventional.”

Just prior to the begin of filming, Rylance took a investigate trek to the Flitcroft relatives residence in north England, spent the weekend consuming late into the evening with the surviving Flitcroft twin and even hit a handful of golfing balls on the seashore wherever Flitcroft had dutifully practiced. “When you are taking part in in prolonged grass,” he notes, “there’s a good inspiration to get far better mainly because you reduce balls rapidly.”

The Phantom of the Open opened final October at the BFI London Film Pageant. Not only did it get a awesome reception, it received, states Rylance, “a large amount of laughs. I never believe that it’s a movie wherever you have to know about golf to enjoy. Like any excellent comedy—and 1 of the reasons they accepted it—it’s obtained anything that a good deal of individuals take pretty, pretty critically: golfing. When you’ve got a matrix, or some thing that folks can choose incredibly very seriously, then you’ve bought very good ground for comedy.

“I hope it goes down properly in America. We all will need a fantastic chortle at a thing hopeful at the minute, don’t we? And it has a charming, touching undercurrent to it about the family and the type of appreciation that a popular gentleman can knowledge in his lifetime. This film wants men and women to have religion in their individual desires, their own imagination of themselves—not to feel that just since there are professionals who do specified human things to do really perfectly that amateurs can not have as a great deal fun—acting, golf, tennis, swimming, skydiving—you never have to be a experienced to do these things, you know. You do not have to be passive. You can go out there and do it by yourself.”

Presently, Rylance is on the West Stop in a revival of Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem, repeating his “once-in-a-life span performance” of Johnny “Rooster” Byron, a drug-dealing “waster” that received him an Olivier in London in 2009 and a Tony, when transplanted in New York two several years later on.

He finishes the run in August and does not expect to just take the exhibit back to New York for one more viewing any time shortly. He is, however, keen on bringing to Broadway a enjoy he did for Bristol Outdated Vic previous January and February. Dr. Semmelweis by Stephen Brown is centered on the existence of Ignaz Semmelweis, the popular Hungarian innovator in antiseptic treatment in Vienna from the 1840s to the 1860s. “I would really like to bring that to New York—to the Belasco Theater, if that’s achievable.” 

If it wins him a fourth Tony, folks will be girded up. Rylance’s acceptance speeches are loopy legends. His to start with in 2008, for Boeing-Boeing in a function that Jerry Lewis did initial on movie, presented information on what to wear in the metropolis and in the woods. His 2nd, in 2011, for Jerusalem, thorough his experiences strolling by means of partitions. Both speeches ended up, in reality, perform by , the poet from Duluth, Minnesota with whom Rylance’s co-wrote a 2016 enjoy, Good Fish. Rylance’s 3rd Tony acceptance speech, in 2014 for his purpose in Twelfth Night time, had more fact, becoming a salute to Sam Wanamaker, the American actor who remaining the U.S. for England for the duration of the McCarthy era, later on building it his mission to resurrect London’s Globe Theater, wherever Rylance would develop into inventive director for a 10 years, commencing in 1996. 

These “acceptance speeches” are Rylance’s one-man protest to the laundry-list thank-yous that have weighed down quite a few a Tony night. “People examine off names that the majority of the audience does not know,” he factors. “I guess I struggled when I was youthful with the surreality of awards for performing, ones that switch performing into a competition. That was by no means seriously its high quality for me. And so lots of awards didn’t contain any ensemble awards or any awards for Very best Duologue or Greatest Monologue or the Most Transferring Participate in or the Funniest Enjoy. They had been usually about individuals, as if the artwork form is designed by individuals, so the total matter was complicated for me.”

Since his experienced acting debut at the Citizens Theater in Glasgow in 1980, Rylance has amassed somewhere in the vicinity of 20 different awards—and counting. However never expect him to do the counting. “I consider that is anything I’ll have to do when I get to hell. When I get to hell, I’ll be put in a space, and I’ll have to count the awards right up until something happens to my soul.”


Mark Rylance on Playing A Golf Club Wielding Don Quixote in ‘The Phantom of the Open’

Leave your vote

Related Articles

Back to top button

Log In

Forgot password?

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.