Biography

Swarthy, striking, and Welsh, actor Matthew Rhys is earning a reputation as one of his country's hottest exports. A graduate of London's prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he enrolled in 1993, Rhys got his first professional role in 1997's House of America, a psychological drama that cast him as one of three siblings in a ragingly dysfunctional family. The first years of his career were spent largely in the theatre and on television; while still an RADA student, Rhys won a place in the cast of the BBC TV series Back Up and then spent a year doing theatre in London's West End. The actor gained familiarity with an international audience when he was cast in the role of Demetrius, one of Tamora's loathsome offspring, in Titus, Julie Taymor's 1999 screen adaptation of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. Although the film was eviscerated by critics and careened into box office oblivion, Rhys, with his peroxided hair and enthusiastically vile behavior, made a distinct impression on viewers. That same year, audiences were treated to two more helpings of the actor, when he starred as Tom Courtenay's son in Peter Hewitt's Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? (interestingly, the film also starred Laura Fraser as Rhys' love interest; Fraser also starred in Titus as Lavinia, the object of Demetrius' abuse), and as an aspiring teenage boxer in the black comedy Heart. 2000 brought with it a host of projects for Rhys, the most notable of which was the London West End production of The Graduate, in which Rhys starred as Benjamin Braddock opposite Kathleen Turner as Mrs. Robinson. The production, which earned a huge amount of publicity thanks to Turner's decision to disrobe entirely for the crucial seduction scene, proved to be extremely popular, and Rhys garnered wide praise for his portrayal of Braddock. Thanks to this, and to his friendship with two other rising Welsh actors, Ioan Gruffudd and Rhys Ifans, Rhys was soon being hailed in the British press as one of the key players in a new generation of Welsh talent. Over the next several years, he would appear in films like Love and Other Disasters and The Edge of Love, as well as on the TV series Brothers & Sisters. ~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi