The ‘beloved’ brother of Sir Mark Rylance has died in a horror cycling crash in California – in yet another tragedy for the British Oscar-winning actor.
Wine expert Jonathan Waters, 60, was cycling in the city of Oakland late one evening last week when he was hit by an oncoming vehicle, suffering severe head injuries.
The local fire department, who were first on the scene, gave immediate treatment but, despite being rushed to hospital, affectionately called ‘Jonno’ by friends and family, died the following morning.
It is another terrible loss for Sir Mark, 62, after one of his two step-daughters died from a fatal brain haemorrhage in 2012. The star has taken time off from the West End stage to travel to the US for a memorial service.
Nataasha van Kampen, a gifted filmmaker, was just 28 when she unexpectedly died on a flight from New York to London.
Jonathan Waters had spent more than three decades at one of California’s most acclaimed restaurants, Chez Panisse, where he had initially cleared tables before becoming an inspired sommelier.
He was adored not only for his encyclopaedic knowledge of wines but also for what one friend described as ‘his grace and joy, light and wit and spirit’.
Sir Mark has two siblings, sister Susannah and brother Jonathan, who were all born in Kent. The actor took the name Mark Rylance in the 1980s because his given name, Mark Waters, was already taken by someone else registered with acting union Equity.
Sir Mark Rylance is mourning his brother today. Sommelier Jonathan Waters was cycling in the city of Oakland late one evening last week when he was hit by an oncoming vehicle, suffering severe head injuries
Rylance’s step-daughter Nataasha van Kampen, a gifted filmmaker, suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage while on a flight from New York to London in 2012
Sir Mark, left, holds their sister Susannah while sat next to his brother Jonathan when they were children in Ashford, Kent
Sir Mark had been starring in the West End revival of Jerusalem, in what one critic has called an ‘almost super-human’ performance.
This week, theatre-goers have been told of Jonno’s death and Rylance’s consequent absence.
On Sunday, he will be in California at a service commemorating the life of the brother with whom he and their sister, Susannah, grew up in America, largely in Wisconsin, where their father taught at the University School of Milwaukee.
Sir Mark released a statement to explain that he would not perform his play Jerusalem at the weekend.
He said: ‘I am so sorry to tell you that on the 28th of May my dear brother Jonathan Waters was knocked from his bicycle and tragically died of his injuries.
‘In order to attend his funeral in California, I unfortunately have to miss three performances of Jerusalem over Saturday 11th – Sunday 12th June.
‘As I have no understudy to play the role Rooster Johnny Byron, sadly these performances have been cancelled.
‘Sonia Friedman Productions, together with Nimax, are arranging additional performances at the end of the scheduled run to try and accommodate everyone who will be affected.
‘I hope you understand my need to grieve my beloved brother and thank you for your support at this time. I hope you will be able to attend another performance of Jerusalem.’
Mark Rylance’s brother, known as ‘Jonno’ to friends, became a celebrated sommelier in the US
Sir Mark’s sister Susannah gave this poignant tribute to their brother, who ‘lived a brave, true life that affected so many people in a positive way’
Mr Rylance quit his role in the Olympics opening ceremony after the sudden death of his ‘beloved’ stepdaughter.
Rylance – one of Britain’s greatest Shakespearean actors – was due to recite verses from The Tempest during Danny Boyle’s ‘Isles of Wonder’ ceremony that lit up the London Stadium.
But the Olivier Award-winning actor pulled out after announcing his ‘beloved daughter’ had died of ‘unsuspected natural causes’.
Nataasha was the daughter of Rylance’s wife Claire van Kampen, and has known the actor since she was three. Her sister is award-winning actress Juliet Rylance.
The gifted independent filmmaker, started work at 16 for Sky Television, and went into production for short films before joining the London Film School. Her debut, Nocturne, was shown at the London Young Filmmakers Festival.
Dividing her time between New York and London, she described herself as an artist, designer and film-maker.
She lived in a flat near trendy Borough Market, close to London Bridge, but professed her love of New York and listed it as her ‘home town’ on Facebook. One neighbour, who said she had spoken to Mr Fitzgerald, said: ‘She had a cerebral haemorrhage on the plane. It’s just tragic – she had a heart of gold.’