Mark Rylance set for Hilary Mantel TV drama

Mark Rylance Rylance was formerly artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe in London

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Actor Mark Rylance is set to play Thomas Cromwell in the TV adaptation of Hilary Mantel's award-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies.

Rylance initially turned down the role due to scheduling conflicts, reports suggest. Official confirmation of the casting is expected next week.

Mantel's Booker-winning novels follow Cromwell, Henry VIII's adviser, and his rise and fall in the Tudor court.

Peter Straughan is adapting the books for a six-part series on BBC Two.

Straughan, co-author of the 2011 film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, is working with Mantel, who is a consultant on the screenplay.

A stage adaptation by the Royal Shakespeare Company is also under way and is expected to premiere at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in December.

Wolf Hall, Mantel's 12th book, won the Booker prize in 2009 and became a worldwide bestseller. Last year, the author became the first woman to win the Booker twice when Bring Up The Bodies triumphed.

Credited with reinventing the historical novel, her books portray Cromwell as a ruthless but sympathetic figure - a man of intelligence and versatility who can "draft a contract, train a falcon, draw a map, stop a street fight, furnish a house and fix a jury".

Mantel is currently writing the third instalment in her Cromwell trilogy, to be entitled Mirror And The Light.

Rylance, regarded as one of Britain's finest actors and directors, is currently rehearsing a new play, Nice Fish, at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis.

In September, he will return to London to direct Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones in Much Ado About Nothing at the Old Vic.

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