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Twelfth Night - Broadway

Mark Rylance stars in the all-male revival of Shakespeare's classic.

Mark Rylance on How I Love Lucy Inspired His Performance as Olivia in Twelfth Night

Mark Rylance on How I Love Lucy Inspired His Performance as Olivia in Twelfth Night
Mark Rylance as Olivia in 'Twelfth Night' & Lucille Ball
Mark Rylance pays tribute to Lucille Ball.

Two-time Tony winner Mark Rylance has been showered with praise for his dual performances in Richard III (as the evil title monarch) and Twelfth Night (as Olivia, who falls in love at first sight with “Cesario,” a messenger who is actually Viola in disguise). On opening night, the star confessed an unlikely inspiration for his demure yet ardent leading lady performance.

“I used to love the Lucille Ball show I Love Lucy,” Rylance told “Someone remarked upon it to me the other day, and I thought, ‘Yeah—I got a lot of comedy ideas as a kid from I Love Lucy.’ What a wonderful show that was.” Costumed in a jet black wig, whiteface makeup and an incredible black beaded gown, Rylance mines comic gold with his coquettish star turn as Olivia, gliding across the Belasco Theatre stage as if on skates. “Olivia is a delight to play,” he said with a chuckle. She’s like the movement from winter to sping, just a wonderful character.”

Critics have remarked on the dark humor Rylance brings to Richard III, as well, but the star resists the idea that he is portraying the king in an overtly comedic fashion. “He has to fool some very complex and intelligent people, so he has to be very charming,” Rylance explained. “What I’ve read about sociopaths and psychopaths is that you don’t see them coming. I just try to fool my way through.”

To see Rylance in action, get tickets to Twelfth Night and Richard III, which are scheduled to run in rep through February 2, 2014.

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