Mark Rylance gives his Tony Award to a Wiltshire man

Mark Rylance at the 65th annual Tony Awards in New York Mark Rylance said Micky Lay "deserves" the Tony award

Actor Mark Rylance has given his Tony Award for his role in the Broadway hit Jerusalem to the man who partly inspired it.

The actor said Micky Lay, from Pewsey, Wiltshire, had helped him research his character Johnny "Rooster" Byron.

Jez Butterworth set his play in the small town of Flintock - which is based on Pewsey, where he lived in the 1990s.

Rylance has had his Tony engraved with the words: "To Micky and Scotty Lay from Mark Rylance".

It will be presented to the pair later in a pub in Pewsey.

Butterworth's play focuses on Byron - a charismatic character who lives in a run-down caravan on the edge of Flintock and is facing eviction by the council.

In June Rylance, the Bafta award-winning actor, beat Al Pacino to win the 2011 Tony Award for best actor in Jerusalem.

Start Quote

[Mr Lay] was very generous with me and invited me into his house and talked with me for six hours”

End Quote Mark Rylance

In an interview, he told broadway.com he wanted to give the Tony "to the guy in Wiltshire [Micky Lay] who very much inspired Jez to write the play".

He said: "I think he'd really like it. He was very generous with me and invited me into his house and talked with me for six hours or so on different occasions about his life as a Romany Gypsy man in England.

"And I think without those interviews I wouldn't have found such a thing.

"So I think he deserves it."

Last week, the award was handed over to a "surprised" Jerry Kunkler, who runs Mr Lay's local pub, in New York.

Mr Kunkler, landlord of the Moonrakers, in Pewsey, had been watching the Broadway production of the play when he was invited backstage to meet the cast.

"I went to America to watch the play and Mark Rylance gave it to me then," he said.

Award 'a secret'

"He gave it to me in a bag and said it was a present for Micky and he'd had it engraved for him.

"I was terrified going through customs with it."

Until now, Mr Lay has had no idea he is to be presented with the award.

"I couldn't say to him - here have a pint, oh and by the way here's a Tony," said Mr Kunkler.

"So I've kept it quiet and told him to make sure he's around on Thursday."

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