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Matthew Rhys quips that he ended up in Cocaine Bear via Keri Russell's coattails

Speaking with The A.V. Club, Matthew Rhys admits he "jumped on my partner’s coattails" for a cameo in Cocaine Bear

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Matthew Rhys explains how he ended up in Cocaine Bear
Matthew Rhys, Margo Martindale, and Keri Russell, stars of both The Americans and Cocaine Bear
Photo: Nicholas Hunt (Getty Images)

This article contains minor spoilers for Cocaine Bear.

Cocaine Bear is a sensation in its own right, but one aspect delighting fans is the stealthy The Americans reunion within the cast. The heavy lifting for that reunion is between Keri Russell and Margo Martindale, but Jennings patriarch Matthew Rhys also managed to sneak his way into the production as one of the film’s only real-life figures, Andrew C. Thornton II, the ill-fated drug smuggler whose cocaine was found by the bear. Speaking with The A.V. Club’s Saloni Gajjar, Rhys explained exactly how he landed the part.

“I unashamedly jumped on my partner’s coattails,” Rhys shares, “because I knew [wife Keri Russell] was doing this movie with Elizabeth Banks, who we know, and I read the script and I simply said, ‘Who’s playing that? That little fun part, a few seconds in the beginning?’ She goes, ‘I don’t know.’ I said, ‘Ask Banks.’ And then she said, ‘No, it’s been cast,’ and I said ‘Tell Banks I’ll do it.’ And then I was like, ‘Well actually, just ask her if I can do it.’”


“I was in Ireland looking after the kids. I said, ‘Look, I’m here! I’m around. I’m local,’” the actor joked. His pitch paid off, and Rhys was brought on to portray Thornton’s tragically comic death. “That was a very quick pop for me. It was kind of half a day,” he said of filming. “They set up an old airplane with a big wind machine, and a stunt team, you know, for the pratfall, and that was it. They put on loud a’80s music, and we had a lot of fun.”

In an interview with Syfy, producer Chris Miller told his side of the story, crediting Banks with bringing Rhys on. “One thing that people don’t really know about Matthew is that he’s one of the funniest people you’ll ever meet,” The Lego Movie director said. “We were talking about who should play Andrew Thornton, and we had already cast Keri. We had dinner with him and Keri and they’re both super fun and funny, but we left that dinner thinking, ‘How come nobody knows this side of him?’ He plays dramatic roles incredibly well and interestingly, and his American accent is spot-on. I had no idea that he wasn’t actually American for years. It seemed like a really fun opportunity to get him to show off some of the range that he has, even in a very, very brief role.”