Rylance gives Tony award to builder
Published 28/07/2011 | 13:56
Actor Mark Rylance has given the Tony award he won for his role in the play Jerusalem to a 71-year-old builder who inspired its writer, because "he'd really like it".
Mickey Laye was presented with the Best Actor award, given to Rylance for his role as Johnny Rooster Byron, by landlord Jerry Kunkler at his local pub in Pewsey, Wiltshire, on Thursday.
Mr Kunkler said the cast used the Moonrakers pub as a base when they visited the area which is the inspiration for the play's fictional setting.
He said: "I got quite friendly with them and went over to New York to see it and that night Mark gave it to me to give to Mickey.
"I was flabbergasted. I went out with some of the cast that night and carried it around me with and I've had it under the bed since I got back. It's engraved to Mickey and his son.
"I've been barring Mickey from this pub for 20 years now but him and Mark get on brilliantly and if you look at Mark now, he's growing his hair a bit - he looks more like Mickey every day."
The play revolves around Rylance's character, Johnny Rooster Byron, a drunk who lives in a caravan on the edge of an English village.
Rylance told American website broadway.com he felt the award should go "to the guy in Wiltshire who very much inspired Jez to write the play".
He said: "I think he'd really like it. He was very generous with me and invited me into his house and talked with me for six hours or so on different occasions about his life as a Romany gypsy man in England. And I think without those interviews I wouldn't have found such a thing."
Rylance is currently in the United States until late August when the play returns to London to open on October 8.