Matthew Rhys on being Darcy: “I won’t be competing with Mr Firth”

The star of Pride and Prejudice sequel Death Comes to Pemberley admits Colin Firth and his dripping-wet shirt are a tough act to follow

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If Colin Firth can be sure of one thing, it’s that he totally nailed the ‘hot man emerging from the lake’ as Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.

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Now, The Americans star Matthew Rhys is readying himself to take on the same role in Death Comes to Pemberley, PD James’s murder mystery follow-up set six years after Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy got together in Jane Austen’s novel.

“Playing an iconic literary hero is always a little problematic,” Rhys tells Radio Times magazine, adding that “the fact that the afore-said iconic literary figure has been immortalised by Academy Award-winner Colin Firth makes for a louder gulp.”

Rhys hopes his saving grace is playing a different type of Darcy.

“He’s more mature, a family man now. I can wholeheartedly say I won’t be competing with Mr Firth emerging from a lake in a dripping white shirt – thankfully – because I don’t think anyone can top him.”

Firth isn’t the only thing that’s on Rhys’ mind. He’s also Welsh and battling with an English accent.

Indeed, given his success across the pond with The Americans and Brothers & Sisters, many of his fans are surprised to find that he’s not American.

“Strangely, I find an American accent easier than a posh English one. I feel like I’m being Lord Snooty,” says Rhys.

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See Matthew Rhys in The Americans, Saturday 9:50pm, ITV and read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times magazine (on sale Tuesday August 6)