Matthew Rhys vows to instil Welsh culture in New York-born son

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Matthew Rhys stars as Billy Winters in Death And Nightingales (Ian West/PA)

Death And Nightingales star Matthew Rhys has said he plans to “force” his New York-born son to embrace Welsh culture.

The Welshman, who stars in BBC Two’s adaptation of Irish writer Eugene McCabe’s novel, has a two-year-old child with Keri Russell, who he met in 2013 on the set of The Americans.

The pair live in New York but Rhys, 44, said he speaks to his son, named Sam, solely in Welsh to ensure he grows up familiar with his father’s culture.

Death And Nightingales
Matthew Rhys as Billy Winters in drama Death And Nightingales (BBC/PA)

He joked that when his son was old enough to watch rugby union he would “force” him to support Wales in the Six Nations Championship.

He told the Radio Times: “I speak to him solely in Welsh. He can answer and understand at the moment.

“How much he’ll speak or retain when he goes to school I don’t know, but what I hope is that I can continue to speak to him in Welsh and then he’ll understand for life.

“The one thing I do know is he will need a crash helmet for the amount of banging in to his head he’s going to get about the part of him that’s Welsh.

“He will support Wales in the Six Nations every year. He’ll probably resent me for the amount of Welsh I’m going to force upon him, the poor bugger.”

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala – New York
Rhys with his wife Keri Russell with whom he has a two-year-old son named Sam (Aurore Marechal/PA)

Rhys, who left his home of Cardiff at 18 to study drama and eventually earned a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada) in London, also spoke of his sadness at living away from home.

He added: “I was traumatised by leaving Cardiff. This word ‘home’… Listen, if melancholy was an Olympic sport, the Welsh would be gold medallists.

“A friend of mine says there’s only two kinds of Welsh person. There are those standing on the jetty waving the boat goodbye and those on the boat waving the jetty goodbye.

“The Welsh have this impressively rose-tinted mythical idea of what home is. Especially for those who leave. For me Wales is now this place of unicorns and druids, in a way – a place I know I’ll never return to.”

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