Tom Daley
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Oh,
Brother!

Oh,
            Brother!

Here’s a
twist on gay drama: At a burger stand in the heart of West
Hollywood, Calif., Matthew Rhys was straight-bashed. Sort
of, anyway. “This huge, muscley guy came up to
me and went ‘gay power!’ and sort of
punched me,” recalls the Welsh-born actor, who plays
single-and-looking gay lawyer Kevin Walker on
ABC’s hit family drama Brothers & Sisters.
“Then the man went ‘You’re gay,
right?’ I went, ‘No, I am not.’ He
went, ‘You’re not? Oh, I feel
betrayed.’ I was like, ‘Sorry.’

It’s not
always easy sharing a face with arguably the most
full-blooded, romantic, and sexually active gay
character in network TV history. But then, Rhys seems
pretty unflappable. This, after all, is an actor who
suffered through eight fruitless pilot seasons in Los
Angeles and was ready to blow off Hollywood for good
just before Brothers & Sisters came along. These
days it takes more than a run-in at a burger joint to
kill the professional buzz he gets playing one of his
favorite characters to date.

“I love
Kevin because in his professional life you get to play the
man in charge, in control, very successful, powerful,
assertive,” says the 32-year old Londoner.
“And on the flip side, in his personal life
he’s a bit of a puppy.”

Unlike some gay
characters who seem too agreeable to be real, Kevin
Walker can be, well, a bit of a dick sometimes, no? Rhys
lets out a laugh in response. “I love his
flaws,” says the Royal Academy drama school
grad, whose past includes the films Titus,
Fakers,
and Very Annie Mary as well as the
London stage production of The Graduate
opposite Kathleen Turner. “Kevin learns from his
mistakes. Under the dry sense of humor and the caustic
repartee, he just wants to meet that one partner, and
he hopes that’ll complete everything. I find that
quite touching about him.”

It’s
lunchtime on the Burbank set of Brothers &
Sisters,
and Rhys is enjoying some sea bass and salad at
a nearby restaurant. His skin is a bit sun-kissed,
thanks to a weekend trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico,
for the wedding of his old friend and former flatmate
Ioan Gruffudd (Reed, the stretchy guy, from the Fantastic
Four movies). “It was beautiful,” says
Rhys, “but the bachelor party in Vegas two
weeks ago—that was pretty wild. We dressed Ioan up as
Buzz Lightyear and made him walk down the Strip. I
still feel emotional from it.”

Rhys’s
clothes -- aqua polo shirt, Paper denim jeans and brown half
boots from Barneys -- aren’t actually his;
they’re Kevin’s, but they look good on
him nonetheless. Kevin is nothing if not tasteful.
“When it comes to Kevin’s costumes, they
didn’t want them to sort of shout gay!”
explains Rhys. So, I ask, we won’t be seeing
Kevin in anything from the International Male catalog?

“What’s that?” Rhys asks blankly. See,
folks, he really is straight.

Tags: World, World

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