Mathew discerns how even farther the hit FX show, The Americans, got him. Though he was first remarkably known for his role as Kevin Walker in his past show in ABC, he expressed how he is hooked on his role now as Philip Jennings who is a KGB Soviet spy.
Mathew is gracefully elusive when asked about details. He does not like giving a lot of clues. With his natural sneaky personality, the Welsh actor is nailing his role to give the viewers the excitement they never really expect while putting some spice. His ambivalent roles as a good dad and a cool veteran spy get every fan look forward for the next episode each week. Thanks to the variety of roles he has played in the course of his career since 90’s.
According to the executive producer of The Americans, Joel Fields, “There’s something in Philip who’s always figuring out his place.” “I sometimes wonder whether that is deeply imprinted in Matthew’s soul somehow. I can’t help but feel there is something in that Welsh upbringing, in the culture of being an outsider inside a larger country, being Welsh in Great Britain, that goes to the way he comes at acting in general and this role in particular,” he added.
Rhys said that the Jennings’ multifaceted marriage was the main reason he signed up for the show, “it’s the sort we’ve never seen before, two people who’ve been together for ‘x’ amount of years and now beginning to forge a real relationship. The spy stuff was just a bonus.” He is convinced that his character, Philip Jennings has a really interesting life. “His thing is always family and their safety and his realization that it’s not a career or a life that can be sustained,” Rhys said. “His mandate is simple: he just wants to stay alive.”
Creator and executive producer Joe Weisberg is firm on believing that finding leads with convincing chemistry was a crucial part of making the show work. “It’s such a subtle and crazy thing this couple has to have, but they just had it,” Weisberg said. “We had to find two people who were believable as a suburban couple who were also killers. It seemed impossible until we found them.”
There was this one scene during the audition when Keri Russell, who plays as co spy and wife of Philip Jennings, had to slap Rhys. She hit him so hard that her handprint was seen reddening on his cheek. Keri exclaimed, “He did not even flinch. His eyes looked straight back to me like, ‘Yeah, what you got?’ That’s the point. He’s unflappable.” Keri admired him since then.
Expectedly, the vibrant onscreen chemistry between the two lead stars ended rumors when they officially put their romance to real-life.
With his big role well played, Rhys is much to blame for the show’s success. Like a domino effect, the actor also blossomed with his different nominations on various awards night.
After quite a few years on the West Coast, Rhys is now blissfully settled in Brooklyn, where The Americans films and where Russell also stays, though, as he jokes, “My jeans get tighter every week.”