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

08 Nov 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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Mark
Mark
8 months ago

So wish someone would make a genuine realistic film about the great man . His life and story needs to be told to a wider audience . Also the benefits for things such as tourism and interest in Wales could skyrocket.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
8 months ago

I hope Matthew manages to get the biopic of Owain Glyndŵr made, i would love to see more Welsh history made into film.

We have enough Welsh talent to make this happen!

Riki
Riki
8 months ago

No surprise he’s having trouble getting it made. England don’t want a Patriotic Wales and his inhabitants remembering who they were. We are not “Welsh”, We are Cymric (British)

Rob
Rob
8 months ago
Reply to  Riki

Hollywood isn’t in England though

Riki
Riki
8 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Oh dear me, I hadn’t realised lol. It may not be but it is heavily influenced by the English. Look how easy it is for their actors to get rolls for example. Case in point Daisy Ridley, what exactly was the mechanism in which she went from a 30 second appearance as a Stiff on a morgue table to landing the lead role in Star Wars? There had to have be a well established middle man known in Hollywood that helped her. We know this happens as Some directors work multiple times with certain actors.

Rob
Rob
8 months ago
Reply to  Riki

So why were they not able to prevent Michael Collins, Braveheart or Rob Roy from being produced in the 90s? They couldn’t even stop an episode of Star Trek The Next Generation where Lieutenant Commander Data suggested Irish reunification will occur in 2024 from being made. Hollywood has typically portrayed those with American accents as the good guys, and those with English accents as the villains, and caters to a global audience not just an English one. If they did try to block then it would become an even bigger blockbuster, so let them try!!

Riki
Riki
8 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Because the English have no vested interest in keeping Ireland or Scotland connected via a Union, hence why films and series that promote Patriotism in those countries are fully permitted. Wales is a bit different because the “Welsh” are the actual British people and any movie that explores their origin will inevitably be frowned upon. As the English narrative of them being British and the Welsh somehow not being (Atleast from a non British stand point) will be seen for what it is. A Historical lie about who the “Welsh” and the English are. This is also why we don’t… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Riki
Bethan
Bethan
8 months ago
Reply to  Riki

I’ve actually detected the opposite in recent US productions. The occasional *nudge nudge wink wink* to the Welsh and it might be my imagination but perhaps even a subtle nod to independence here and there? Things with a US/Japanese influence seem to have given a shout out to the Welsh for some time though. I think it’s the dragon. We have that in common and they like it. Video games like ‘Dragon Quest’ (PS2) which contrary to the name did not feature a single dragon until you complete the game and have the option of fighting an insanely difficult hidden… Read more »

Rob
Rob
7 months ago
Reply to  Riki

The English might, but not the Americans. Wales profile in the USA (World Cup, Wrexham etc) is very much a recent thing. 10/20 years ago most Americans would have either never heard of Wales or think its part of England. How can someone develop an opinion on a country or part of the world they don’t know even exists?
There is a Welsh-American diaspora, not as strong as Irish or Scots. But a Glyndwr movie would be something that the Irish and Scottish diaspora could also relate to.

Chris Jones
8 months ago

They are the wrong choices. Americans will never fund/make movies about ‘losers’ and let’s face it, Owain Glyndwr lost (a very long time ago). There are many other ‘Welsh’ stories/lives that would make excellent films. If American money/investment is needed (as it would be) then why not make movies about Welshmen that influenced American history of whom there are many brilliant examples from presidents to priests.

Frank
Frank
8 months ago
Reply to  Chris Jones

William Wallace, the legendary Scots warrior who led his nation into battle against the English in the years around 1300 was captured, tortured and executed something similar to Owain Glyndŵr. Wouldn’t that fact categorise him as a “loser” too? They made a film about him though, didn’t they!!

Chris Jones
8 months ago
Reply to  Frank

Well yes. You’re thinking of Braveheart and Mel Gibson (Hollywood royalty). However Scots and Irish are more ‘popular’ in the US than us Welsh and we need to move on from the stereotypes.

Frank
Frank
8 months ago
Reply to  Chris Jones

Eleven American Presidents were of Welsh descent. If that does not “popularise” us Welsh I don’t know what would.

Rob
Rob
8 months ago
Reply to  Frank

I think some people would be pleasantly surprised, quite a lot of Americans do claim to have some Welsh descent. The Welsh Diaspora could easily capitalise on this as the Irish and Scots have. Quite a lot of suburbs around Philadelphia have Welsh place names, and Wales profile in the US has been enhanced not just by Wrexham, but also by the fact that we were their first opponents in the World Cup last year, demonstrating our separateness from England.

Riki
Riki
8 months ago
Reply to  Frank

Yep, Wales isn’t as well known because there has been an effort by media and education in both America and Britain to make it seem as Wales and England are the same place. Also, almost 40% of signers of the Declaration of Independence had ties to Wales. Wales’ connection to America despite its size is severely underestimated!

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Frank

I think that in general, most presidents would probably make pretty boring subjects for major movies, though of course there are exceptions, but the most famous have probably already been done, and as it’s Hollywood, it’s unlikely that any Welsh connection would receive much emphasis. In the creation of national myths the USA is particularly interesting given that it only has a distinct history as a nation state that’s less than three hundred years old. Films about American presidents would tend to emphasise American values, and people like Washington or Lincoln would tend to be seen in the role of… Read more »

Riki
Riki
8 months ago
Reply to  Chris Jones

He never lost! He went into hiding having did more damage to England than Wallace did. And no one ever took up the offer of the English in locating him. In William Wallace deserved a Film, then Glydnwr certainly does.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  Chris Jones

But that’s just it, Glyndwr didn’t ‘lose’ in the accepted sense, he was never caught and despite offers of amnesty, still didn’t come forward. Like the Arthurian hero, the mythology he played to the extreme, he simply disappeared, ready to reappear in Wales’ greatest hour of need. It’s quite interesting, Glyndwr was never forgotten in Wales like the rather insipid Llywelyn ein Llyw Olaf (sic, and deliberate :)) who was largely forgotten about until resurrected in the Victorian age. Glynwdr also belongs to all comers, from all political directions, the Glyndwr myth has something to offer all. Llywelyn ELlO on… Read more »

J. W. Soares Jones
J. W. Soares Jones
6 months ago
Reply to  Chris Jones

Owain Glyndwr is roaming the hills, waiting for the right moment.

Rob
Rob
8 months ago

I can see the unionist dinosaurs in the Labour party objecting to this, just like they did in the 2000s when BBC Wales contested that the greatest ever Welshman was Aneurin Bevan and not Owain Glyndwr just to appease the Kinnocks. There will also be those who say that Glyndwr should not be celebrated because he doesn’t adhere to 21st century values. But screw them!! If Braveheart can boost the image and self-confidence of Scotland, then why couldn’t a Glyndwr movie do the same for Wales? Our image has already been boosted thanks to the World Cup in Qatar, imagine… Read more »

J. W. Soares Jones
J. W. Soares Jones
6 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Does Matthew Rhys have some way for supporters of this project to gather?

Crwtyn Cemais
Crwtyn Cemais
8 months ago

Podcast Bendigedig – doniol ma’s draw! ~ Wonderful
podcast – soo funny!

Keith Gogarth
Keith Gogarth
8 months ago

What a story it could be! Let’s face it he’s a freedom fighter, mentioned In Shakespeare’s Henry 4th The Tudor brothers who stealthily captured Conwy Castle and who were the ancestors of Tudor density in England. A film about Glyndwr would be be more exciting and intriguing than Wallace and Bruce or the O’Neils of Ireland. The trouble is Wales and Welsh history are not as fashionable as that of Ireland and Scotland and we don’t have the artists and political class to do anything about it

Chris Jones
8 months ago

If we want ‘stirring’ Welsh stories (from the past) to make movies from then you will find them in Welsh Saints on the Mormon Trail by Wil Aaron – this is a brilliant book.
If Mathew Rhys can’t get a movie made about Owain Glyndwr then probably no-one can. We need to move on.

Sian Ifan
Sian Ifan
8 months ago
Reply to  Chris Jones

Keep trying Mathew, the history of Tywysog Owain Glyndwr and his War of Cymric Independence definately should be told in a big Hollywood epic. He is a much more interesting character than William Wallace as were his main supporters such as Rhys Gethin, Rhys Ddu, Hywel y wyallt, Gruffydd Young, Crach y Ffinnant and so on. Owai was chosen to be Tywysog Cymru by the Cymry. He led a long war, much longer than both world wars, a small nation of 500, 000 against a country of over 3 million and all its more sophisticated war machinary which included cannons… Read more »

Frank
Frank
8 months ago
Reply to  Sian Ifan

The Welsh history lesson you have given is very interesting. It’s just a pity that it is not taught in schools from an early age for pupils to know the facts. Instead their minds are brainwashed with English history with tales of glorious and triumphant victories. The children need to know that Wales was outnumbered 20-1 during the conquest.

Chris Jones
8 months ago
Reply to  Sian Ifan

I totally agree that Glyndwr is a highly significant figure in our (past) history and his story should be told (in film). However, we’re talking about modern movies and why US (Hollywood) funding is needed for any kind of ‘blockbuster’. We have the brilliant actors and even the directorial talent but not access to the ‘money’ or a worldwide audience to justify the kind of investment needed. There has to be ‘linkage’ to a US audience/story.

Bethan
Bethan
8 months ago

I’d watch that but they should make it a series? You think they could stretch it into a series? I don’t actually know that much about him (a good reason to make it🙂). Just drunken tales outside his namesake pub. I think it would be a great addition to a streamer site.

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