Watch: Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney say they ‘had a duty’ to promote Wales’ culture, language and history
Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have said that they felt they had a “duty” to promote Wales’ culture, history and language after buying Wrexham football club.
The pair said they decided to “lean all the way in” on Welsh culture and history after discovering how important it was to Wrexham as a club.
They were interviewed by S4C as they accepted a national award for their contribution to Wales’ culture in New York.
The Wrexham co-owners received the award during a special ‘Wales and the World’ concert on Times Square on Monday to celebrate the links between the nations before Wales play USA in the World Cup.
But in an interview with Washington-based journalist Maxine Hughes they said that they did not foresee becoming such a part of Wales’ national culture before buying the club.
“Not to this level, no,” Rob McElhenney said. “We always knew from the very beginning that once we committed to a Welsh club, it was just so apparent that it was such a massive part of the beating heart of the town itself and the club itself.
“We knew that there was no escaping it and so we just leaned all the way in.”
Ryan Reynolds said: “I think we always knew we’d be entrenched in Wrexham. I don’t think I could see the bigger picture being Wales as a whole, and as a culture. As such a distinct culture.
“For that to be centered in the way it has is not expected.”
Mae Rob McElhenney a Ryan Reynolds wedi dweud nad oedden nhw’n disgwyl cael eu trochi cymaint yn niwylliant Cymru
— Newyddion S4C (@NewyddionS4C) November 16, 2022
They were also asked if they feel Welsh themselves.
Rob McElhenney answered: “I would not presume to assume so. But I will say that it was important to us when we were talking about the season of the show.
“To make sure that we had an episode that was very specifically focused on the nation of Wales and the culture of Wales – and specifically the language.
“Because it’s such a rich history, and it was so important to the club, we felt that to do anything less than that, we would be remiss in our duty.”
‘Cymru am byth’
As part of the concert on Monday, Reynolds and McElhenney were awarded with the ‘Diolch y Ddraig’ (Dragon’s Thank-you) award to recognize their contribution to promoting Welsh culture on the international stage.
The concert had been organized jointly between S4C, the Welsh Government and the Football Association of Wales, and was attended by stars including Ioan Gruffudd, Bryn Terfel and Katherine Jenkins.
Speaking from the stage, Rob McElhenney said: “I would like to thank the Welsh Government, the Football Association of Wales and S4C, and all of our friends in Wales for tonight’s honour.
“We accept this with the full recognition that these last few years have been the real honour.”
Ryan Reynolds added: “Rob and I are first and foremost, we’re storytellers. And we are so humbled by the fact that the people of Wrexham and the nation of Wales have entrusted us to tell your story.
Rob asked “Do you want to want to try some Welsh Ryan?” before Ryan Reynolds responded “How about this? Cymru am byth!”
“We are so humbled by the fact the people of Wrexham and the Nation of Wales have entrusted us to tell your story.”@VancityReynolds and @RMcElhenney receiving a special award from the people of Wales in New York last night. 🏴
#CmonCymru #TîmCymru22 #TeamWales22 @S4C pic.twitter.com/Gtvu1Q2Q1K
— This is Wales (@walesdotcom) November 15, 2022
Speaking backstage, Rob McElhenney told S4C Newyddion: “When we started this endeavour, we had no idea that we were going to get the kind of response that we have from town, from the region or from an entire nation.
“So it’s been an honour over the past few years and it’s all culminating in this amazing dream come true.”
S4C chief executive Sian Doyle said that the presence of Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney at the concert was invaluable.
“The amount of noise there is going to be from the fact that Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney are going to be here, if people don’t know about Wales after this, I don’t know when it’ll happen,” she said.
“To be able to do that and show Wales to everyone, it is a privilege for S4C to be part of the event.”
You can watch the concert on S4C on Sunday 20 November.
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