A wiry boyishly handsome actor with piercing blue eyes and curly dark hair, Welsh-born Matthew Rhys has enjoyed success in Great Britain but still hasn't landed that breakout role that would help catapult him to international prominence. At age 16, the Cardiff native joined the National Youth Theatre of Wales and went on to study at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where his childhood pal Ioan Gruffudd was already enrolled. Gruffudd was instrumental in helping Rhys land his first film role; called upon to audition for the part of a disaffected Welsh youth in the feature "House of America" (1996), Gruffudd reportedly told the casting director he knew an actor who was perfect for the role -- Matthew Rhys. Rhys landed the part in the film which premiered at MIFED in Milan and was screened at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival.
Following his feature acting debut, Rhys joined the cast of the BBC police drama "Backup" in 1997, the same year he made his professional stage debut as an anarchic gay man in "Cardiff East", written and directed by Peter Gill. The actor went on to have featured roles in the Jimmy McGovern-scripted "Heart" and the comedy "Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?" (both 1999) before landing the role of the punkish scheming son of Jessica Lange's Tamora in "Titus" (1999), director Julie Taymor's visually stunning take on Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus". While his memorable turn alongside Jonathan Rhys Meyers should have brought Hollywood calling, Rhys followed up with some less than stellar efforts, few of which even opened in American movie theaters. He managed to attract some attention for his fine turn as an impressionable youth drawn into the rave scene in the Cannes-screened "Sorted" (2000) and garnered strong reviews for his work as a drug addict in the British TV drama "Metropolis" (also 2000). Rhys perhaps gained his highest profile playing the titular character in the London stage adaptation of "The Graduate", portraying the naive Benjamin Braddock opposite Kathleen Turner's Mrs. Robinson. Unfortunately Turner drew more attention with a brief nude scene and her high profile overshadowed the rising player's.
Rhys went on to team with pal Gruffudd to play a gay couple called Hob and Nob in the comedy "Very Annie Mary" and played a Cockney with commitment issues in "Peaches" (both 2001). Returning to the small screen, he was well-cast as a journalist turned reluctant explorer in the BBC remake of "The Lost World" (2001), based on Arthur Conan Doyle's tale. Back on the big screen, Rhys portrayed a venal TV talk show host with his own skeletons in "Tabloid" and an Irish nobleman who kidnaps two women in "The Abduction Club" (both 2002). While he has continued to develop as an actor and his charm and good looks have made him something of a sex symbol in the United Kingdom, Rhys has yet to enjoy full on success in the USA. Undoubtedly, it will only be a matter of time before he finally gets the role that will do for him what "Horatio Hornblower" did for his pal Ioan Gruffudd.