The appointment of the 35-year-old, sure to be seen by many in the theatre as bold and daring, will be confirmed at a press conference next Tuesday at which he will also outline his vision for the company.
Terry Hands, who directed Rylance in Romeo and Juliet for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1989, said that the Globe had made a "brilliant"choice. "If anyone can make the Globe work, it is Mark. I'm in a state of shock. He is a visionary and normally visionaries don't get jobs like this."
It is thought that Rylance's reputation for innovation will help quell fears that the Globe would descend into stuffy, museum style Shakespeare.
However, Mr Hands added that while Rylance would be unpredictable, he would also remain faithful to the playwright. "He is very concerned with the philosophical and spiritual ethos of the time when Shakespeare himself was writing."
After training at RADA, Rylance immediately earned critical praise with the RSC for his performance as Michel in Arden of Faversham at The Other Place in the 1982 Stratford season. Since then he has played Ariel in The Tempest, the title role in the RSC's staging of Peter Pan and Romeo.
However, it was as Hamlet, in Ron Daniel's 1988 production for the RSC, that Rylance shone. Critics raved over his portrayal of a pyjama-clad Danish prince hovering between electric derangement and haunted sweetness. Last year he won the Olivier for best actor as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, as well playing the twin roles of Lee and Austin in Sam Shepherd's True West.
Rylance's directing talents are less well known, and although pleased with their final choice, the Globe's management was known to be disappointed with the list of alternative candidates.