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Matthew Rhys Of Perry Mason Explains How A Vintage Motorcycle Divided Their Set

Among the many strengths of HBO Max's reimagined "Perry Mason" is that it still retains a loyalty toward the themes and tone of Erle Stanley Robinson's original hard-boiled detective novels. Among these is an inability to escape the past, and our titular lawyer (Matthew Rhys) is certainly haunted by his. In the Season 2 premiere, we see him skid out his motorcycle, and get some nasty road rash on his leg. In some ways, the motorcycle itself is a stand-in for Perry's guilt, even the low-key death wish he seems to struggle with. Those closest to him can see it, most particularly his partner Della (Juliet Rylance) after she notices him limping into court. 

As it turns out, it's not just the characters of "Perry Mason" who find this motorcycle such a divisive presence. Speaking with Good Morning America, Matthew Rhys said that plenty in the cast and crew had strong opinions about it. Rhys, who is also an executive producer on the second season, suggested the motorcycle plot device. So production brought a Harley-Davidson in for him to train on. "And very quickly, they went, 'I don't think that's gonna work.'"

According to Rhys, it sounds like the bike was just simply too loud for production. "So they gave the Harley-Davidson to the action vehicles team and they said, 'Turn it into an electric bike.'" The new and modified bike was much quieter, but still looked like it was from the 1930s. Plus, fewer emissions.

They made the Harley electric

This would be far from the first time that a vehicle has been modified for a film or television project, from the Panem peacekeeper trucks in "The Hunger Games" series to the famous DeLorean from "Back to the Future." Plus, it's not like this would be the first electric hog Harley-Davidson produced. Everyone wins, right?

Not exactly. This motorcycle was vintage, an original from the 1930s. In the eyes of some motorcycle enthusiasts, that made the very idea of tinkering with it downright heretical. Some such enthusiasts were, according to Rhys, also on the team whose job it was to take this beautiful vehicle apart and put it back together as an E.V. They were less than thrilled. "And when we were out on location it did — it divided a lot of people," said Rhys. "There were a lot of, kind of, predominantly gentlemen of a certain age who would come up and say, 'Is this a 1930 XYZ?' I go, 'Yes, it is.' They went, 'Why can't I hear it?'"

Naturally, Rhys would then have to break the news to these folks about what had been done to this classic Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Not everyone was horrified, though many were. "About half said, 'That's incredible,'" he admitted, "and the other half said, 'That's an abomination.'"