Matthew Rhys

Matthew Rhys

Born in Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom, Rhys was raised by his father, Glyn, a headmaster, and his mother, Helen, a teacher who worked with special needs children. During his childhood education, Rhys joined the National Youth Theatre of Wales when he was 16 years old. A year later, he played Elvis Presley in a school play, which prompted him to study at London's famed Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he was awarded the Lady Patricia Rothermere scholarship. While still attending RADA, Rhys made his feature acting debut in the Welsh-made drama "House of America" (1997) and also had his first small-screen appearance as a policeman in the British series "Back Up" (BBC, 1997). That same year, he made his professional stage debut as an anarchic gay man in Peter Gill's "Cardiff East," which was performed at the Royal National Theatre. From there, he had a small role in "Elizabeth" (1998) before landing featured roles in the Jimmy McGovern-scripted "Heart" (1999) and the comedy "Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?" (1999). Upping his profile, Rhys was cast in a major supporting role as Demetrius, the punkish and scheming son of Tamora (Jessica Lange), defeated Queen of the Goths in "Titus" (1999), director Julie Taymor's visually stunning, but dramatically dull take on William Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus." Unable to capitalize on the higher-profile film, however, Rhys was involved some less-than-stellar efforts, few of which even opened in American movie theaters. He managed to attract some attention for his fine turn as an impressionable youth drawn into the rave scene in the Cannes-screened "Sorted" (2000) and garnered strong reviews for his work as a drug addict in the British TV drama "Metropolis" (2000). Rhys perhaps gained his highest profile playing the titular character in the London stage adaptation of "The Graduate," portraying the naive Benjamin Braddock opposite Kathleen Turner's Mrs. Robinson, though Turner's brief nude scene drew attention away from Rhys' performance. From there, he teamed with childhood friend Ioan Gruffudd to play gay couple Hob and Nob in the comedy "Very Annie Mary" (2001) before moving on to portray a Cockney with commitment issues in "Peaches" (2001). Returning to the small screen, Rhys was well-cast as a journalist-turned-reluctant explorer in the BBC remake of "The Lost World" (2001), based on a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tale, while on the big screen he portrayed a venal talk show host with his own skeletons in "Tabloid" (2002). After playing an Irish nobleman who kidnaps two women in "The Abduction Club" (2002), he joined Jamie Bell and Andy Serkis for the British-made horror flick "Deathwatch" (2002). From there, Rhys had roles in a string of British movies like "Shooters" (2002), "The Abduction Club" (2002) and "Fakers" (2004) before finally breaking through stateside with a leading role on Greg Berlanti's hour-long drama, "Brothers & Sisters" (ABC, 2006-2011), which followed the problems of a wealthy family following the sudden death of their patriarch (Tom Skerritt). Rhys played younger brother Kevin Walker, a former corporate lawyer-turned-pro bono attorney secure in his homosexuality. In fact, Rhys' character was a rarity on television for being both out and comfortable with being gay, while also being treated no better or worse than the straight characters around him, which included the family matriarch (Sally Field), his conservative activist sister (Calista Flockhart), and his drug-addled Iraq war veteran brother (Dave Annable). During his five-year stint on "Brothers & Sisters," Rhys found time to appear in the occasional film with roles in indie romantic comedies like "Love and Other Disasters" (2006), starring Brittany Murphy, and "Virgin Territory" (2008), which featured Hayden Christensen, Mischa Barton and Tim Roth. He went on to star in the well-received "Patagonia" (2010), a British-made drama about Welsh people living in Argentina. Meanwhile, "Brothers & Sisters" ended its run on ABC after five seasons, leaving Rhys temporarily adrift. He went on to star as John Jasper in the BBC's adaptation of Charles Dickens' "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" (2012) and portrayed the dual role of John Standing/Johnny Spence in the adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's "The Scapegoat" (ITV1, 2012). Returning to U.S. television screens, Rhys starred alongside Keri Russell on "The Americans" (FX, 2013-), a Cold War espionage series on which they played Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, two undercover KGB agents pretending to be an average American couple living in early 1980s America. But having been exposed for an extended period to American life, the Jennings - particularly Philip - start struggling between their political loyalties and family obligations.By Shawn Dwyer