Mark Rylance Calls for Mass Protest During Donald Trump's U.K. Visit

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Mark Rylance

"I have a lot of friends in America who are watching very closely Trump's visit. If there isn't a protest, it's going to be a disaster," the Oscar-winning actor said.

Mark Rylance has urged Britain to rise up in protest during President Donald Trump's upcoming four-day visit to the U.K., saying that to not do so would be hugely damaging. 

The Oscar-winning star of Bridge of Spies, most recently seen in Ready Player One, was among a number of artists to perform at a special event in London ahead of Trump's arrival on Thursday titled "Just Say No: Artists Against Trump & War," organized by the pro-peace activist group Stop the War Coalition (of which Rylance has been a long-standing supporter). 

"I have a lot of friends in America who are watching very closely Trump's visit," said the actor. "If there isn't a protest, it's going to be a disaster. [A protest] is going to be very, very helpful. For all our wrongs as a nation, we shouldn’t underestimate the effect we have in standing up and saying, 'No thank you, Mr. Trump. There’s another way forward, a way together, a way with hope.'"

Rylance cited an experience he had in 2003 in Pittsburgh, where he was told that the U.K. had enough influence in the U.S. to have averted the invasion of Iraq. 

"If [then Prime Minister Tony] Blair had said, 'No, this is not right to attack Iraq,' [then President George] Bush wouldn’t have been able to get it through," said Rylance.

The actor gave two performances at Thursday's event, which was held at London's Shaw Theater. The first was a 20-minute reading of a short story by author (and Rylance's sister) Susannah Waters called "Bully," set in the White House; the second was a 30-minute narration of Harold Pinter's famed Nobel lecture in 2005 in which the dramatist delivered a passionate and devastating attack on U.S. foreign policy since World War II. 

Fellow Oscar winner Vanessa Redgrave also appeared at Thursday's event, describing her experience visiting prisons and detention centers for refugees in the U.S. and reading a letter sent to her from Michelle Brane of the Women's Refugee Commission about the ongoing horrors of migrant children being separated from their parents. 

Also appearing onstage was Johnny Flynn, star of the Netflix comedy Lovesick and recently seen as Albert Einstein in the Nat Geo series Genius, who performed several songs with his band. 

Proceeds from the night went to the Stop the War Coalition, which is one of the organizations behind widespread protests being planned in the U.K. during Trump's visit, including a demonstration in central London on July 13 that is expected to attract some 50,000 people.