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Matthew Rhys reveals battle to get a biopic of Owain Glyndŵr made

28 Dec 2023 3 minute read
Matthew Rhys appearing on the Rob Brydon & podcast

Hollywood star Matthew Rhys has lifted the lid on how he has tried to get a film about Owain Glyndŵr off the ground.

Appearing on a recent episode of the Rob Brydon & podcast, the two Welshmen discussed Rhys’ latest projects and how the Cardiff-born actor was busy pitching ideas, but admitted he was currently ‘stuck in development hell’.

“I’m in development for a number a number of things,” he explained. “I suppose the one thing that I’m genuinely excited about that I’ve been trying to get made for so long is a story of Owain Glyndŵr.

“That’s been that’s been the uphill slog that’s been about a 12 year development.”

When asked to explain to the non-Welsh listeners of the podcast just who Owain Glyndŵr was, The Americans and Perry Mason star, said: “Owain Glyndŵr was who many deem the last Welsh Prince of Wales, who in the 16th century led an incredibly successful rebellion against the English when things turned for the worse for Wales as they did for Scotland and Ireland.

“Glyndŵr united a very divided Wales. He not only retook Wales but started to push into England incredibly, until the English said, ‘this is far far too much from the Taffs’ and they came back with a vengeance. They took his family they came back upon him with a vengeance, the like of which we had never seen, which kind up set up modern Wales as it is now.”

When podcast host Bryson enquired whether the film could have a happy uplifting ending, Rhys replied: “Yes, you’d probably end it with when we won the last Grand Slam!”

The actor, who won many plaudits for his portrayal of the famed defence lawyer Perry Mason in the self-titled TV series, which ended this year, said he’s been searching for the next role, but because of his TV successes Stateside his agents have been very selective of which roles he is put forward for.

“Because, some things did well – Perry Mason did relatively well. So then you’re approached by a number of people to start developing. I am what is known as in the midst of development hell where there are about 10 projects, books mainly that you’re in constant zoom meetings about, notes on treatment, notes on the script, what to do, who do we pitch to next? You’ll just sit in this round robin slog pitching to people like Apple and Amazon and Netflix and HBO. I’ll be in meetings saying ‘oh this project is my life’s work’. And my agent said you’ve got to stop saying ‘this is my most important part’, because you said that a few times the last time we pitched.”

The actor, who once shared a flat with fellow Welsh acting titan Michael Sheen, also spoke about wanting to get a project together about Dylan Thomas in New York, but again has found it a difficult sell.

“That’s another thing I’m in the middle of development – a play about Dylan Thomas in New York. And the pitch always starts with. (Adopts US agent’s voice) ‘We’re so excited. Great to meet you. Great to meet you. So excited to take this journey. Talk talk, what do you have to say?’

“Well, as you know, Dylan Thomas – and you just see them go like (raises his eyes disdainfully) and I’m like, boys, Welsh men, come on!”

Listen to the full Rob Brydon & podcast

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Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
4 months ago

Let’s hope Matthew’s efforts finally bear fruit. Is frankly surprising that the life of arguably the most important figure in Wales’ long and proud history hasn’t yet been brought to the big screen. Owain Glyndŵr’s story is a absolutely compelling one, a story which stands up on its own – full of drama, heroism and tragedy – and wouldn’t need the embarrassing exaggerations and historical inaccuracies which blighted Mel Gibson’s much hyped, if very successful, ‘Braveheart’ about Scotland’s William Wallace. And the fact that Owain’s ultimate fate even to this day remains unknown is surely the stuff of Hollywood dreams?

Last edited 4 months ago by Leigh Richards
James Soares Jones
4 months ago

I know the feelings Owain Glyndwr can raise in a Cymric person. I like to declare: I have no Cymro paper trail of “proof”…just my SURNAME and my APPEARANCE and the lump in my throat, the hairs prickling on the back of my neck and the tears welling in my throat when I first heard Yma o Hyd, in Cymraeg, of which I knew not a whit. I am Celtic!

4 months ago

Something that will need to be done well.

Memory nudges me to a film review in years gone by Barry Norman? (never saw the film)

Last edited 4 months ago by Jeff
Richard H
Richard H
4 months ago

I did suggest this about a decade ago. But a musical movie based on Owain! Tom Jones as the great man himself, Charlotte Church as his vivacious daughter, seducing the English with her sultry serenading and the Stereophonics or the Maniacs as his fearless fighters liberating Wales (if not smoldering Newport).

It would be a massive hit with younger generation and raise awareness of our history. Tom Jones singing “My my my own Feudalism!”! What’s not to like!

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