Sir Mark Rylance has said he wishes he could learn from golfer Maurice Flitcroft how to handle criticism, admitting he is “terribly sensitive”.
The Oscar-winning actor plays the man dubbed “the world’s worst golfer”, who entered himself into The Open in the mid-1970s despite never having played golf properly in his life, in new film The Phantom Of The Open.
Arriving at the movie’s premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, Sir Mark said he found much to admire in the sportsman.
He told the PA news agency: “(I admired) his generosity to other people and to his family and just his defiance.
“I do like defiant characters, but he was very quietly defiant. And he’s very wonderful.
“I wish I could be as good as he is about criticism. It just goes off like water off a duck’s back, but I’m terribly sensitive and always have been about criticism.
“I just admire Maurice, he never gives up and doesn’t accept other people’s opinion of himself, he has his own view of himself. So that’s lucky.”
The actor said the story resonates because it taps into the audience’s desire to root for an underdog, adding: “I was raised in America to the age of 18, I spent summers here.
“When I came here and went to school here, I noticed that the other students only praised fellow students if they were an underdog.
“If they’d been out all night drinking, or they’d had a terrible time and if they then rose above that obstacle and did well, everyone loved it.
“Someone who just worked hard, and did well? No, no, no, that’s not so admired amongst the British.
“We really love people who have their back against the wall, and don’t give up and come back. It’s a strong thing here, I think.”
The film is directed by Submarine actor Craig Roberts, whose previous works as a filmmaker include Just Jim and Eternal Beauty.
He told PA: “I love an underdog story but more so I love anybody that is going to go against their birth lottery, what you’re born with, essentially the circumstances that you’re in or the cards that you’re dealt. I love anybody trying to go against that.”
The Phantom Of The Open is released in UK cinemas on November 5.