10 Roles That Made Us Love Matthew Rhys: From 'Brothers & Sisters' to 'The Americans'
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Would you like to share a glass of wine with Matthew Rhys and Matthew Goode? Of course you would! And you kind of can, in the new season of their charming lifestyle series The Wine Show, which also features James Purefoy and Dominic West.
Ahead of its premiere, Thursday (July 29), on Sundance Now, here's a reminder of Rhys's day job as a very brilliant actor, and 10 of his roles that really impressed us.
1. Very Annie Mary (2001)
Welshman Rhys has a small role as a shopkeeper in this Welsh indie film starring his future Brothers & Sister co-star Rachel Griffiths. Its uplifting coming-of-age story about a woman who gains in confidence as she embraces her singing voice will feel corny to some viewers, but the cast is packed with Welsh acting talent – alongside Rhys, there are supporting turns from Jonathan Pryce, Ioan Gruffudd, and Joanna Page.
2. Brothers & Sisters (2006-2011)
Rhys moved across the pond after being cast in ABC's family drama series starring Sally Field. He appears in all 106 episodes as Kevin Walker, a principled pro bono lawyer who clashes with his brother-in-law, Senator Robert McCallister (Rob Lowe), because of the latter's opposition to same-sex marriage. His character definitely played a part in improving LGBTQ representation on screen: when Kevin and partner Scotty (Luke Macfarlane) held a commitment ceremony, it was the first ever same-sex wedding ceremony involving series regulars on a network show.
3. The Edge of Love (2008)
Loosely based on real-life events, this British period drama film centers on charismatic Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (Rhys) and two women he enjoyed concurrent romantic relationships with: wife Caitlin (Sienna Miller) and nightclub singer Vera (Keira Knightley). When the latter's husband William (Cillian Murphy) returns home from World War II, events take a dark and dramatic turn. The Edge of Love is a little stilted in places, but Welshman Rhys clearly relishes playing one of his country's cultural heroes.
4. Patagonia (2010)
This underrated road movie follows four people connected to Y Wladfa, the historic Welsh settlement in the Argentinian region of Patagonia. Rhys plays Mateo, a charming Patagonian tour guide who has a surprising effect on a couple with marriage issues (Matthew Gravelle and Nia Roberts) whom he bonds with. It's a subtle and visually stunning film that's well worth seeking out.
5. Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)
Based on P.D. James' novel of the same name, this ingenious BBC miniseries lifts the characters from one of Jane Austen's best loved novels, Pride and Prejudice, and drops them right into a tense murder mystery. Rhys is impeccably cast as Austen's brooding hero, Fitzwilliam Darcy, capturing all of his reserve and dependability. He also gets to play off his future The Wine Show co-host Matthew Goode, who's equally well cast as the caddish George Wickham.
6. Girls (2013)
Lena Dunham's zeitgeist-grabbing show was never afraid to be provocative, and Rhys guest stars in one of its most unsettling episodes. He plays Chuck Palmer, a prominent writer who invites Dunham's wannabe novelist Hannah Horvath to his department for a debate about the gray areas surrounding sexual assault. In the process, he grimly manipulates the much younger (and less powerful) woman into entering a situation she instantly regrets. It's a role that requires Rhys to weaponize his natural charm into something more sinister; he does it so well that he landed an Emmy nomination.
7. The Americans (2013-2018)
Rhys's signature role to date is surely his Emmy-winning turn in this slow-burning Cold War drama series. Over six superbly crafted seasons, he and Keri Russell – now a real-life couple too – play Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, two Soviet spies posing as an ordinary American couple living in the Washington D.C. suburbs. It's a rich premise that gives both actors ample opportunity to show their range as they portray characters struggling with the many challenges, both moral and logistical, of their double lives.
8. The Post (2017)
Steven Spielberg's gripping journalism thriller depicts the true story of The Washington Post's attempts to publish the Pentagon Papers, a set of classified documents concerning the US government's involvement in the Vietnam War. Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks take center stage as gutsy publisher Katharine Graham and equally brave executive editor Ben Bradlee, but Rhys has a key supporting role as Daniel Ellsberg. Portraying the former military analyst who leaked the documents to the Post, he conveys Ellsberg's nerves and overriding morality perfectly.
9. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)
In a piece of casting that's almost too perfect – almost – beloved actor Tom Hanks plays beloved TV presenter Fred Rogers in this gently uplifting biopic. Co-starring as the cynical and somewhat jaded journalist sent to profile Rogers, who ends up being completely charmed by him, Rhys provides a prickly counterpoint to Hanks' irresistible twinkly charm. It's another really well judged performance from the Welshman.
10. Perry Mason (2020)
Taking on such an iconic American character was a definite risk for Rhys, even after his Emmy-winning turn in The Americans, but he pulls it off with aplomb in this classy HBO reboot. He captures the world-weary detective's doleful tendencies nicely while also giving him a slightly more youthful edge than previous depictions by Raymond Burr and Monte Markham. Rhys has duly been rewarded with another smattering of award nominations including an Emmy nod.
Have we missed out on one of your favorite Matthew Rhys roles?