Matthew Rhys talks playing the villain in Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai

Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai -- Courtesy of HBO Max
Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai -- Courtesy of HBO Max /

Matthew Rhys takes on the role of the villain in Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai. What was it like for him coming into this franchise?

Gizmo is coming back. Well, he’s already back. The first two episodes of Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai are now on Max.

It’s a great adventure series that focuses on friendship while honoring Chinese culture and lore. Set in early 1900s China, we get to see Sam Wing and Gizmo head out with their friends to get Gizmo back home and out of the hands of the evil Riley Greene.

Riley is played by Matthew Rhys, who we know as Perry Mason, Kevin Walker, and may other characters. What’s it like taking on this role.

Why want a role in Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai?

We started off talking about what drew him into the series in the first place. After all, Gremlins last graced our screens more than 30 years ago. Well, like many of us, there is a lot of nostalgia in this.

“When I was 10 years old, my parents took me to the cinema under the complete misunderstanding that they thought they were taking me to a children’s film…it was one of the most visceral experiences of my time…It’s one of those films like Goonies and ET that stays with you for the rest of your life.”

It turns out that all Rhys needed was to be invited to the series. He was into the series immediately, and he didn’t care who he would play. Then he did ask who they wanted him to play and saw an image of Riley Greene, and he was completely sold.

“In the animated work that I have done, my imagination helps me the most. I always ask for an image and go from there…They told me who he was, a powerful industrialist with a God complex. I was like ‘you’re speaking my language.'”

This the work was a lot of fun for him. You can tell that from the way he talks about the character in the interview.

Who is Riley Greene in the Gremlins prequel?

Of course, we want to know a little bit about the characters before we get into the series. That’s especially the case for the villain. What does he want? Who is he working with? What sort of threat is he to Gizmo and the rest of the Mogwai? Rhys went into that.

“He’s a powerful industrialist with some very—I’m trying to word this carefully—with some very interesting powers of his own. He is desperate to get his hands on the Mogwai for some very incredible reasons, and as a result of some unfortunate consequences, he has some Gremlins beneath him who don’t actually do what he wants them to do and his life becomes very incredibly difficult.”

It sounds like actions have consequences on this part. How much will Riley blame everyone else rather than himself for his own actions? I think we all know someone like that.

Sadly, Rhys did not get to meet any of the icons from his own childhood. While Joe Dante was a consulting producer and Zach Galligan is playing a role in the series, Rhys was on his own for his own parts due to filming schedules. He is a busy actor!

Of course, many fans of the Gremlins movies will worry about connecting to the original story. Rhys is very positive about keeping the Chinese culture and having Joe Dante around to create the “perfect marriage.”

Take a look at the full interview with Matthew Rhys below:

Next. Tze Chun and Brendan Hay talk Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai. dark

Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai airs Tuesdays on Max.