Matthew Rhys, known for his TV and film starring roles in Brothers & Sisters, The Americans, and It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, recently completed a lengthy restoration project of a rare 1939 Hemingway-era boat, aptly named Rarebit. The 10,000 spoke to Rhys about his acting career, what led him to purchase the vessel, the tips and tricks he learned along the way, and how the wooden boat, currently docked in Brooklyn, is used today.
You’ve starred in many film and television programs, including The Post, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Brothers & Sisters, The Americans, and more. Is there a specific role you enjoyed the most?
It was the part of Philip on The Americans that to me was the greatest challenge as so much was going on internally for him at any given moment. Here was a man who wanted to defect from the KGB, although the woman he loved was staunchly against it, had lied to his children his whole life - desperately wanting to tell them the truth and secure and protect their future. He had also destroyed the lives of so many innocent people and continued to do so, so as not to be suspected by the organization that had taken him as a boy. Even just reading that, you realized the enormity of the juggle but playing it was such a rich and varied gift of a part.
Such an intense and rich role. Outside of acting, you purchased a 1939 rare wooden fishing boat of the same era as Ernest Hemingway’s famous “Pilar” vessel and then spent four years restoring it. What sparked your interest in buying the boat?
Four years ago (late at night) I was skimming through eBay looking at boats (which I enjoyed doing) when I came across this old Wheeler Playmate. I knew instantly this was the same class of boat that Ernest Hemingway had and was shocked to see one for sale as I knew they were also pretty rare as this class was built back in Brooklyn in the 30’s. What clinched it for me was her name - Rarebit. There’s a dish (basically an open grilled cheese sandwich) called ‘Welsh Rarebit’ and so, through rose tinted glasses and scotch fog, I bought her. Had I realized what was ahead of me - I certainly wouldn’t have.