A couple of days ago, I interviewed MATTHEW RHYS who plays Kevin on Brothers & Sisters. Matthew Rhys is one of the Emmy hopefuls this year, and I think we can all agree that he has taken us on a great ride this year, especially with all the life changing events that happened to the character of Kevin this season.
Matthew Rhys talked about his approach to playing Kevin, how the cast gets along, as well as what inspired him to become an actor in the first place, and much more. So enjoy the interview below!
You’re in the third season of ‘Brothers and Sisters’, and this season has once again been a crazy ride between the family getting a new brother, Tommy leaving, and Kitty getting a new baby. How do you think all of that is going to impact the next season?
Matthew Rhys: I mean, in terms of the ‘Brothers and Sisters’ style, the storyline they’re bringing in are quite long term and it’ll have a long term cause and effect really. We round off quite a lot in the third season. Like you say, the storylines that you mentioned have a long term effect on what will happen in the fourth season. So there’s always a great degree of unresolved family drama. I think that’s what’s great. That’s why I enjoy being in it. It’s always that slow process of unraveling really.
Do you think there’s hope for Kevin and Tommy to reconcile? They kind of made peace, but it wasn’t perfect.
Matthew Rhys: I think that we do sort of leave things open ended and a lot of things aren’t resolved as quickly as other times. I like the element that it’s not all resolved between us. Obviously, the story lines give us somewhere to go. I think that Tommy and Kevin have a long journey ahead of them. That’s what makes it intriguing.
What would you like to see happen to Kevin in the next season?
Matthew Rhys: I can’t really complain. The story lines they have given me have been great. There has been a slow build up for him and Scotty to finally get together. It was a long rocky road for the pair of them. I thought that was interesting. The enormous career change he had when he went to work for Robert McCallister, which I thought that was a stroke of genius to put those two together. It’s a beautiful recipe for conflict. On top of everything what happened with Tommy and Elizabeth, I can’t complain at all. If things continue as they have been I will be more than happy. Like you pointed out, he has a journey to go on with Tommy and sustaining a relationship is difficult enough. There are enough obstacles thrown up from that point of view. I am more than happy with the way things are going.
After three years do you find it easier to play Kevin?
Matthew Rhys: Yes, there is certainly a comfortableness in the fact that we all know the characters as far as who we are and who we are playing. We are lucky in that I think we are continually challenged in the story lines, whereby curve balls are thrown at us. We have to deal with them obviously as characters, but they are new and challenging. They writers continue to keep us on our toes.
Can you talk about your process as an actor? For example one episode of ‘Brothers & Sisters’, when you get the script, what is the process?
Matthew Rhys: For anyone in particular?
How would you prepare for a certain scene? Is there a process that you repeat every time you get a script?
Matthew Rhys: Originally what I did, in the first season you’re trying to discover the character, it’s quite a long and drawn out process. Any time Kevin is referenced by other characters I would write that down. Anytime I referenced myself I would write that down. You are trying to glean certain characteristics. The more you keep this list up, the more certain characteristics will keep popping up. You realize that you have a defining number of characteristics for your character. I think that the more you play to those then the more strongly defined the character becomes. Like I said the writing is strong, but usually if a scene is dying and it’s not working for me, I try and figure out what the super objective of the episode is, and the character, what he wants in the episode, or what he wants in the scene. What is the obstacle that is blocking him? I just write these down and try and find the moments in the scenes, and sort of the beat of where the changes happen, where he overcomes obstacles. I’m giving you a very shorthand track of basically what the process is.
How hard is it for you to do the American accent? I always have to remind myself you’re not American.
Matthew Rhys: That’s good to hear. In my arrogance, I sort of thought that once I got maybe a season under my belt it would be something of second nature. But it’s not. It’s something that I continually have to stay on top of. I’ve always got dialect work on the CD in the car. I’m continually trying to stay on top of it. There are times when you are tired, it’s late, or it’s emotional those are the times when your accent starts to slip. It’s still ongoing for me and I continue to work at it.
Have you ever had to reshoot a scene because the accent came out?
Matthew Rhys: We never had to reshoot a scene. We occasionally do another take and it’s usually myself noticing it. And that’s usually it.
How similar are you to Kevin?
Matthew Rhys: That’s a tricky one for me to answer. You’ll have to ask the people who know me and watch the show. I appreciate his humor and the humor they write for him, in that it’s a little bit acerbic. It’s a little bit cutting, it’s the kind of thing I appreciate, I enjoy. There are times when he’s a little cynical. I know I’m guilty of that one. We have the same taste in suits.
You portray a really tight family and I wondered if that made the cast closer?
Matthew Rhys: Absolutely. We’re very lucky. I think it’s one of the reasons, possibly it’s one of the contributing factors, of why the series has worked. As a group of people we get on very well. We interact well, we act and play well, together. I think that’s just a huge bonus really. It’s everything you want in a family drama that you get along like a family. We sort of wind each other up. The boys annoy the girls. So everything sort of takes its natural course, really.
Who is your favorite character on the show apart from yours?
Matthew Rhys: That is a tough question. I have phases of enjoying characters. Justin I love, he is very interesting but very funny as well. I love that he has all the comedy in the face and such a kind sort of desperate and charming. Then Kitty, I find more maybe in the way that Calista [Flockhart] plays her, which she has a similar sort of dryness in her comedy. That makes me laugh a lot. Probably those two.
Can you talk about what originally drew you to acting?
Matthew Rhys: There are lots of reasons really. I think if you are from Wales, which is a very small country, but one thing they do is encourage young people to get on stage at a very early age. We have a very rich history of story telling, drama, and poetry. We have these annual festivals where all the youth get together and do competitions in drama, competitions. So at an early age you are very comfortable, or aware, of being on stage and performing. The natural progression is to try and make a career from it. So then you go to drama college. And then you see people like Anthony Hopkins and Richard Burton, I think because they are Welsh, coming from a small country, you see these people make such a success, it makes it sort of tangible and achievable. You think ‘Well, if they do it, why don’t I?’ It’s a combination of many of those things really.
What is your process in general as an actor once you get cast in a project? How do you approach it?
Matthew Rhys: It can be specific to what the project is, if it’s to do with something very specific, like an accent, skill, or type of person, I will usually try and go to that place and study the accent, person, or skill. I can base characters on real people that are related to that character. Then as I say it’s the classic stuff, I was trained Stanislavski style. You read the script four or five times, you figure out your super objective, then what your scenic objectives are within every scene. You write up three columns of what you say about yourself, what they say about you, what the screenplay says about you. You write all those out, take a characteristic from each one, then write it down as an inner or outer characteristic. You slowly get an image of who the person is. Those kinds of things really.
Is there an actor you would love to work with that you haven’t had a chance to yet?
Matthew Rhys: I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but he was an actor that I grew up loving, Robert De Niro. To work with him would be a dream come true.
What would be your dream role?
Matthew Rhys: It’s rather unfortunate in a way because it’s already kind of been done with the story of ‘Braveheart’. There is an identical story in Wales about a Welsh Prince who was being persecuted at the same time as Wallace was in Longshanks so I would love to do a film about him. It would be basically a Welsh ‘Braveheart’.
If you could guest star on any show which one would be?
Matthew Rhys: It would have been ‘The Wire’ but it’s gone now. That’s a show that’s really impacted me in the last three years. I think it was flawless as a TV series. That’s one I would have loved to have been in.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you can talk about?
Matthew Rhys: Yes, I just recently finished a movie called ‘Patagonia’. That is partly about the Welsh colony. The Welsh colony in Patagonia, in Southern Argentina, where they still speak Welsh. It’s a beautiful movie about two women. One who goes from Wales to Patagonia and one who goes from Patagonia to Wales. We just finished shooting that and I can’t wait to see how that turns out.
Does it have a release date?
Matthew Rhys: No, it will be sometime next year.
You’re from Cardiff and so I have to ask, are you a fan of ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Torchwood’?
Matthew Rhys: I’m ashamed to say that I’m not. I should be following local industry but I’ve never been much of a Sci-Fi fan. I have to admit. Although I’m a huge fan of David Tennant I’m not much of a ‘Doctor Who’ fan.