Matthew Rhys Bio: In His Own Words – Video Exclusive, News, Photos
Matthew Rhys, born November 8, 1974, is a Welsh actor best known as Kevin Walker in the ABC family drama Brothers & Sisters, and as Dylan Thomas in The Edge of Love. He stars as Philip Jennings in the FX drama series The Americans.
Matthew Rhys: Early Life
Rhys was born in Cardiff, Wales, the son of Glyn, a headmaster, and Helen Evans, a teacher. He also has a sister, Rachel, who is now a broadcast journalist with the BBC. Rhys was educated via the Welsh-medium schools, Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Melin Gruffydd (in Whitchurch, Cardiff) and Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf (in Llandaff North, Cardiff) and speaks fluent Welsh.
Speaking exclusively to uInterview he revealed how he became involved in performing through a national Welsh event called the Eisteddfod, a performing arts festival held twice a year in which “young people from a very early age are encouraged to sing, write, dance, recite poetry, write poetry”. This was where he gained a passion for acting.
“That was the sort of early beginnings for me, that and Sunday school and chapel. That made its way to youth theater in school and then at 18 I went to the Royal Academy in London to study.”
Rhys played the part of Elvis Presley in a school musical, at age 17, after which he applied and was accepted at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London. Shortly thereafter, in 1993, he was awarded the Patricia Rothermere Scholarship.
During his time at RADA, Rhys appeared in the BBC police series Back-Up as well as in House of America. He returned to Cardiff to act in his own language in the Welsh film Bydd yn Wrol (Be Brave), for which he won Best Actor at the Bafta Cymru (Welsh BAFTAs).
Matthew Rhys: Early Career
Immediately noticed for his talent upon graduating from RADA, Rhys was cast in a slew of productions for the big screen and television. In January 1998, Rhys went to New Zealand to star in Greenstone, a colonial costume drama for television. He then landed a role in Titus, Julie Taymor‘s adaptation of Titus Andronicus, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange. Next he played Ray in Peter Hewitt‘s film comedy, Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? After returning to Wales, he did two consecutive films with Jonathan Pryce: The Testimony of Taliesin Jones, a film about a dysfunctional single-parent family in which he played the elder son, and Sara Sugarman‘s comedy Very Annie Mary, in which he played the role of Nob.
In 2000, Rhys played the lead role in Metropolis, a drama series for Granada TV about the lives of six twenty-somethings living in London. Check him out in a steamy clip below.
He appeared opposite Brittany Murphy in the independent feature Love and Other Disasters, in Virgin Territory opposite Hayden Christensen, Tim Roth and Mischa Barton, and played poet Dylan Thomas in the love quadrangle biographical film The Edge of Love.
Matthew Rhys: Breakthrough
Rhys’ breakthrough came in 2005 when he was cast as lawyer, Kevin Walker in ABC’s hit family drama, Brothers And Sisters. Rhys’ co-stars included Sally Field, Calista Flockhart and Rachel Griffiths and the drama centered around a wealthy Pasadena family. Speaking to The Los Angeles Times Rhys called the experience a “golden age,” particularly working with the “breathtakingly professional” Sally Field. “You realize what the standard is,” he said.
The show ended its five-year run in 2011.
Following the show’s end, Rhys appeared in a BBC two-part drama adaptation of Charles Dickens’ last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, left unfinished at his death in 1870, as well as playing Mr. Darcy, the lead role in BBC miniseries, Death Comes to Pemberley in 2013.
Rhys’ biggest role to date came when he was cast opposite Keri Russell in hit FX TV show, The Americans. Set in the early 1980s during the Cold War, The Americans is the story of Elizabeth (Russell) and Philip Jennings (Rhys), two Soviet KGB officers posing as an American married couple living in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.
Rhys and Russell began dating on set and it was clear from their first meeting that they had real chemistry. In an audition, when acting out a scene from the pilot in which Elizabeth slaps her husband, Russell, swept away in the moment, slapped Rhys so hard her handprint was visible on his cheek.
“He did not even flinch,” Russell said of the intense moment. “His eyes looked straight back to me like, ‘Yeah, what you got?’ That’s the point. He’s unflappable.”
Reviews for the show and Rhys’s performance have only improved with each season, The New York Times writing of season 3, “The Americans’ is an unusually clever, subtle drama that uses the conventions of a Cold War thriller to paint a portrait of a complicated, evolving but not unhappy marriage…[E]very season gets more complicated, and is all the better for it.”
Speaking exclusively to uInterview, Rhys revealed that “things can only worse for them [the Jennings] in season 4 as this net of many aspects snares them even tighter.” Season 4 will premiere in March 2016.
In 2015 Rhys starred in comedy-drama film, Burnt, directed by John Wells and written by Steven Knight. Rhys starred opposite Bradley Cooper, as his “arch nemesis and rival” and picked up some cooking skills for the part from real-life michelin chef Marcus Wareing.
Rhys’s will be seen on the big screen again in Jungle Book: Origins, a live-action adventure fantasy film directed by Andy Serkis, with a screenplay by Callie Kloves, based on the book The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. Rhys will act opposite Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch and Naomie Harris. The film is due out Oct. 6, 2017.
Matthew Rhys: Personal Life
Rhys was housemates for nearly 10 years with fellow Welshman and actor Ioan Gruffudd, and served as best man at Gruffudd’s wedding.
Rhys has been in a relationship with his The Americans co-star Keri Russell since 2013. Russell has two children, Willa and River, from her six year marriage to carpenter Shane Deary. She and Deary split in early 2013.
Watch Matthew Rhys’ uInterview here: