Translated version of the BBC Radio Cymru interview with Golden Globe nominee Matthew Rhys
Interviewer Rhydian(R): good morning Matthew rhys!
Matthew (M) good morning to you both! Thanks for the invitation!
R: well thanks for agreeing to this!
M: oh you pay me so well
Interviewer Shelley: so how is everything over in NY during this current climate, how have things been?
M: well…awful is the word really, it’s sad to see a city with so much life be brought to its knees in a way and it’s just so towel. So many restaurants have closed as well as shops and some businesses have closed down and there are no tourists here, so you see the effect they [tourists] have on the city
S: I just can’t imagine NY without all those people
M: No, no exactly. I mean these days I ride my bike around Manhattan because there’s nobody there
R: it’s like I am Legend the Will Smith film
M: That’s exactly how I feel! (the laughter here made it a bit tricky to hear) …all on my own on my dad’s pennyfarthing bike
S: or you could just dress up as Spiderman and remake the film
M: I did that and I got arrested for disturbing the peace, because it didn’t fit well
S: is there any snow with you at the moment?
M: That’s all I’ve been doing – moving it with a spade. Yeah we’ve had a few feet of it
S: when it’s cold out there it’s really cold isn’t it
M: absolutely, the kids love it though
S: are the kids at school or have you had to home school them?
M: it’s been on and off nearly every week. If someone gets infected they close the school or if they’ve been in close contact with someone [infected] they close it so then the kids are on their computers. But this week it’s been pretty good, one is in full time and the other two part time so it’s up and down weekly. How about with you?
S: our kids aren’t in school and I really admire parents giving maths lessons and Welsh lessons etc
M: yes! Oh by the way let me congratulate you Rhydian – I know it’s a bit late – [on becoming a father]
R: Yeah the kids in college now [jokes] thanks Teifi Glyndwr is his name
M: oh Glyndwr is my dad’s name
S: and my dad too
R: not the same one I hope
S: oh gosh – both surnames Rhys and our dad is Glyndwr
M: my sister! At last we meet!
S: actually, when we were 18…because Matthew it’s been nearly 30 years since we’ve known eachother
S: we had a party when we were 18 and you left your socks in my mother’s house, do you want them back?
R: oh hello!
M: well if you’ve still got them! Yes please
S: remember them? White fluffy sport socks?
M: oh well that was the style, the style of the time
R: probably with some neon in them
M: well of course, that way everyone could keep up with me on the dancefloor. I remember that party actually but of course we can’t go in to that story on air
R: yes not live on BBC Radio Cymru
M: not yet anyway…late night maybe
R: So Matt did you find it easy to pick songs for today’s show?
M: super easy
R: are you a big fan of music in general
M: I was. But then kids came into my life and then you just forget about stuff like that don’t you? Things like hobbies and interests. Yeah music, I remember that.
R: back in the good old days did you enjoy going to gigs in NY? Who did you see?
M: I always made an effort to see some British bands that were coming over and being in Brooklyn there’s a big music scene and lots of places where you can go and see bands. I saw mumford and sons just before lockdown. I saw The Who in Brooklyn…This all seems like an age ago, I feel like an old man…”I remember these things called gigs!”
R: and hugging and seeing people
M: we used to shake hands
R: first Song- why’d you pick it
M: I was in school when the band came out with this song and it was so cool to have a band that played Welsh Funk. It’s a great song and there’s also Welsh rap in it so can’t go wrong
S: Did you do the rap?
M: I did and it was the best I’ve done it in a long time, I was great.
S: so Matthew, let’s talk about the Urdd [youth club in Wales, largest in Europe] it’s important to you isn’t it?
M: yes. Urdd had a huge impact on my life and it helped me work out what I wanted to do with my life. Standing on a stage during Urdd recitals is so similar in a way to standing in front of an audience and it helps in a way. And Urdd and the Eisteddfodau [cultural competitions in Wales] really helps young kids…even in the preliminary rounds you’re standing there in front of hundreds of people, so if you can handle that and get through it you can get through a lot. It was a stepping stone for me.
S: yes because looking back you used to be quite shy
S: but you make friends in Urdd and gain confidence in things
M: true and it sets you up well for life. Urdd is wonderful for so many reasons not just performing arts.
S: let’s move you on to-
M: the police
S: to theatre, I remember hearing you were going to be in The Graduate
M (giggles) bonkers isn’t it? Matthew Rhys?? R-H-Y-S? Him? But to be fair, I wanted that job so much but the second I got it I was…scared.
R: What scared you?
M: Everything. The nature of the show of course, it was hard because I had to prove myself and so many people had seen the film and you have to redo the whole thing and come at it with from new angles. I remember once hearing these two old ladies talking during the interval one said “what do you think?” And the other said “well he’s no Dustin Hoffman” I wasn’t sure I could go on for act 2!
R: so do you pay a lot of attention to reviews? Good or bad?
M: I used to. It took me a long time to learn that they’re not worth reading.
S: you played Romeo with the RSC
M: God I had a lot of bad ones [reviews] for that! I was torn to pieces
R: well who’s laughing now?
S: you’ve played so many roles on stage, do you want to go back to the theatre?
M: yes! I love theatre. Id love to play Hamlet but I think I’m too old now, I mean I’m pushing 50 I’d have to play his dad, the ghost. Seeing Broadway closed is heartbreaking and it’s been tough on some of my friends.
S: What about the West End?
M: I’d love to but at the moment because of how young Sam is I don’t think I could leave him for six months at a time. Maybe when he’s a bit older but not when he’s so young, leaving home would be too hard.
R: okay second song why this one?
M: it’s great, lifts the spirits and the remix is even better
S: fab thank Matt don’t go anywhere
M: I’m off!
S: so the golden globes are coming up, and you’re up for Best Actor for Perry Mason which is great. But Math, it’s a bit saucy isn’t it?
M: it is isn’t it? I and to tell my mother, maybe don’t watch certain parts
R: mate you fell off the bed at one point
M: it’s a talent
R: Robert Downey Jr picked you for the role
M: sort of. It was supposed to be a film and he wanted to play the role but really you need about 8 hours of this to make it a good show so he agreed but then – turns out he’s a busy man and couldn’t do it – so I banged on his door and he agreed
S: will there be a second series?
M: yes I was supposed to be filming it now but covid has stopped that and it’s filmed over in California but I’m hoping to film again in October
S: well good luck you’re up against Al Pacino
M: Yeah Al! It’s like the Urdd all over again
S: let’s talk about brothers and sisters. You had to call Sally Field mom every day!
M: oh I had to pinch myself. It was great and I never lost sight of how amazing she was
S: and then of course, The Americans. The final series, the ending was so satisfying. You did some directing too, how did that affect your acting?
M: haha I thought you were going to ask how it affected my relationship! The first time I directed, Keri was pregnant with Sam and in one scene the notes I kept giving her were making her more and more mad so in the end I had to tell her “the way you feel with me now? Use it!” I like to think it was her best performance
S: and a beautiful day in the neighbourhood with Tom Hanks, you worked with him in the Post too?
M: well not really because we didn’t share any scenes. In one scene Bob Odenkirk is on the phone with Banks and Spielburg like to have the actor on the other end of the line be present so Hanks had to come in on his day off just for that one scene
S: I read an article, you and Keri had a dinner with the Obamas? How did that happen?
M: he was a big fan of the Americans. So there were two state dinners one was for Italy and the other was…Oh god this is embarrassing the other was the one we were at…Singapore! And normally I can talk to anyone and the only times I’ve ever been lost for words were meeting Gareth Edwards and the Obamas. It was crazy they’re so important and all I could talk about was the tomatoes and how lovely they were!
R: That’s so Welsh
M: Michelle was in a white dress looking like work of art and then me like a barbarian sticks my fork in the tomato and it just explodes like a grenade and all I could think was ‘ if I reach out towards her to stop the tomato hitting her dress the secret service will just shoot me’ so I just sat there and watched. Thank God it missed her.
R: well thanks for keeping your feet on the ground
S: now before you go, Rhydian is a huge Star Wars fan and you’ve got a connection now
M: oh yes Keri is part of Star Wars
R: can I just say I’ve got an action figure of your wife
S: bit odd
R: of your partner sorry
M: (just laughs) no, no, no I’m proud of her. But I remember showing Sam a box of the doll and one of the older kids was trying to explain to him that it was Mam inside the box and sam runs over to me screaming Mums IN HERE! I couldn’t breathe. And Rhyd I’ll send you a Chewbaca pillow that we’ve been given
R: omg thanks!
S: final song then Math
M: Tom Jones, I always love this song and I always try and do the dance from the music video
S: Good luck at the Globes and remember we love you anyway!
M: thanks both!
Listen to the Welsh version of the interview at BBC Radio Cymru here.