Matthew Rhys stopped by HuffPost Live on Monday, March 14, and discussed both his role on FX’s The Americans and his character from Brothers & Sisters, which aired on ABC from 2006 to 2011.
Brothers & Sisters revolved around the Walker family and the five adult siblings: Sarah, Kitty, Tommy, Kevin and Justin. Rhys, 41, played Kevin Walker, who was one of the first major characters on a network television show in America to be gay.
“It was sort of refreshing. …” Rhys said. “From the very last audition, this incredibly beautiful, gifted writer Jon Robin Baitz was incredibly certain that this character wasn’t defined by his sexuality.”
The actor hoped that the show resonated with audiences all across America, especially after his character’s wedding —which was the first marriage between a gay couple in a major TV show in America at the time. “I think from a writing point of view, we’re the conduits in a certain sort of way,” Rhys explained. “We owe that to the writers and they handled that fantastically. … If I’m a small cog in that, which I am, I’m very happy.”
Rhys’ latest role may not be quite as relatable as his character on Brothers & Sisters. The actor stars as Philip Jennings in FX’s critically acclaimed The Americans, which follows two KGB operatives posing as a married couple to spy on the American government. The FX show has grown in popularity, and the Wales native feels truly blessed. “It’s fantastic! I slightly feel artificial and shallow to say it’s nice to be validated by critics, but it can help,” the actor said.
“You strive for something and when it’s praised duly then that’s a reward, but you know, the audience is the greatest of rewards,” the Burnt actor told HuffPost. “The combination of the two is what we truly strive for.”
The drama taking place in the popular show isn’t completely made-up. The creator, Joseph Weisberg, actually used his time in the CIA to add mystery to The Americans.“What is interesting, more often than not, [with] the more extreme the story lines, I will approach [Weisberg] and go, ‘No one’s going to buy this’ and he’ll say, ‘Well, actually, this absolutely happened,'” the actor said with a laugh. “They’ve taken very real operations and missions that the KGB did that are public knowledge by now and put them in the script.”
“It’s that old adage,” Rhys said. “The truth is stranger than fiction.”
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