John Rhys-Davies

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John Rhys-Davies
John Rhys-Davies by Gage Skidmore.jpg
John Rhys-Davies, 2014
Born(1944-05-05) 5 May 1944 (age 70)
Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, Wales
OccupationActor/Voice artist
Spouse(s)Suzanne Wilkinson (1966–2010) (2 children)
Partner(s)Lisa Manning (2004–present)[1]
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John Rhys-Davies
John Rhys-Davies by Gage Skidmore.jpg
John Rhys-Davies, 2014
Born(1944-05-05) 5 May 1944 (age 70)
Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, Wales
OccupationActor/Voice artist
Spouse(s)Suzanne Wilkinson (1966–2010) (2 children)
Partner(s)Lisa Manning (2004–present)[1]

John Rhys-Davies (born 5 May 1944) is a Welsh actor and voice actor. He is perhaps best known for playing the dwarf Gimli in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the charismatic Arab excavator Sallah in the Indiana Jones films. He also played Agent Michael Malone in the 1993 remake of the 1950s television series The Untouchables, Pilot Vasco Rodrigues in the mini-series Shōgun, Professor Maximillian Arturo in Sliders, King Richard I in Robin of Sherwood, General Leonid Pushkin in the James Bond film The Living Daylights, and Macro in I, Claudius. Additionally, he provided the voices of Cassim in Disney's Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Man Ray in SpongeBob SquarePants, and Tobias in the computer game Freelancer.

Early life[edit]

Rhys-Davies was born in Ammanford, Wales,[2][3] the son of Welsh parents Mary Margaretta Phyllis Jones, a nurse, and Rhys Davies, a mechanical engineer[4][5] and Colonial Officer.[6] He spent much of his childhood in his mother's home town of Ammanford, although he was also brought up in Tanganyika. He was educated at Truro School and at the University of East Anglia where he was one of the first 87 students admitted, and where he founded the Dramatic Society. After teaching at Watton County Secondary School in Norfolk he won a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.


Although appearing sporadically on UK television in the early 1970s (for instance, as gangster Laughing Spam Fritter opposite Adam Faith in Budgie), Rhys-Davies first gained widespread popularity for his performance as Praetorian officer Naevius Sutorius Macro in I, Claudius. He then began to appear more frequently, and not just in the UK, with roles as a Portuguese navigator Rodrigues in the 1980 television miniseries Shogun, based on the novel by James Clavell, and in the Indiana Jones movies. In 1989, Rhys-Davies also starred in another James Clavell adaption, Noble House, set in Hong Kong, in which he plays Ian Dunross' corporate enemy, Quillian Gornt. He has since appeared in numerous television shows and miniseries, including Agent Michael Malone in the 1993 remake of the 1950s television series The Untouchables as well as a leading role in the television series Sliders as Professor Maximillian Arturo from 1995 to 1997. He also appeared in Reilly, Ace of Spies in 1983, made several appearances on Star Trek: Voyager as a holodeck version of Leonardo da Vinci, starred as an ally of James Bond in The Living Daylights and appeared in the movie One Night with the King. Davies has played the character Porthos in two separate projects; a two-part episode of The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne and the Hallmark Channel movie La Femme Musketeer. He appears in the full motion video cut scenes of computer games including Ripper (as Vigo Haman) (1996), Dune 2000 (as Noree Moneo) (1998), and the Wing Commander series (as James Taggart, doubling as the voice of Thrakhath nar Kiranka in the third game of the series). He has also appeared in a number of Sci Fi Channel original movies.

In 2004, he starred in The Privileged Planet, a documentary that makes the case for intelligent design.[7] And in 2013 appeared in the family history programme Coming Home where he discovered information about his grandfather's life, in the Carmarthenshire coal mines.[8]

The Lord of the Rings trilogy[edit]

He is also known for his popular portrayal of the dwarf Gimli in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The cinematography of the films was aided in that Rhys-Davies is tall – 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m), compared to the actors playing hobbits at around 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m).[9] Therefore, whereas his character was supposed to be short, he was properly in proportion compared to the hobbit actors. Had he been of more similar height, shots of the entire fellowship would have required three camera passes rather than two.[10] Rhys-Davies is the only one of the nine Fellowship of the Ring actors who did not receive a tattoo of the word "nine" written in the Tengwar script; his stunt double, Brett Beattie, got the tattoo instead as Rhys-Davies was disinclined to get one himself.[11] The other members of the cast—Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Billy Boyd, Ian McKellen, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Viggo Mortensen, and Elijah Wood—got the same tattoo.

Rhys-Davies suffered severe allergic reactions to the prosthetics used during filming, with his eyes sometimes swelling shut. When an interviewer asked him whether he would consider returning to the role for the film version of The Hobbit, he said, "I've already been asked and to be honest with you, I wouldn't. I have already completely ruled it out. There's a sentimental part of me that would love to be involved again. Really I am not sure my face can take that sort of punishment any more." He added that this time around "They've got a different set of problems... because you've got 13 dwarves, a whole band of them... You're trying to represent a whole race... You're trying to do for dwarves what 'The Lord of the Rings' did for hobbits".

Voice work[edit]

In addition to voicing the Ent Treebeard in Lord of the Rings, Rhys-Davies has also lent his distinctive deep, Welsh voice to many video games and animated television series, including playing the role of Hades in Justice League and numerous times in Gargoyles (1994–1996), as the character Macbeth. He also lent his vocal talents to the games Freelancer (as Winston Tobias) and Lords of Everquest (both in 2003) and the game Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness, which was released with his narration on a CD-ROM version in 1995. He also made a voice role on Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance as the character Jherek, and narrated a documentary called The Glory of Macedonia.

John Rhys-Davies' voice can be heard on the 2009 documentary Reclaiming The Blade.[12] In the narration, Rhys-Davies explores swords, historical European swordsmanship and fight choreography on film, a topic very familiar to him from his experiences in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, where his character Gimli wielded an axe in many scenes.

In 2004, he was the unknowing subject of an internet prank that spread false rumours in several mainstream media sources that he was scheduled to play the role of General Grievous in Star Wars Episode III.[13]

Rhys-Davies is the narrator of The Truth & Life Dramatized audio New Testament Bible, a 22-hour, celebrity-voiced, fully dramatised audiobook version of the New Testament which uses the RSV-CE translation. In 2011, he presented KJB: The Book That Changed The World, which features him reading diverse snippets from the King James Version.

Political views[edit]

Rhys-Davies in an autograph session in Sweden

Rhys-Davies holds politically conservative views.[14] As a university student in the 1960s, he had been a radical leftist, but changed his views when he went to heckle a young local member of parliament, Margaret Thatcher. Rhys-Davies says that "she shot down the first two hecklers in such brilliant fashion that I decided I ought for once to shut up and listen".

Views on Islam[edit]

In 2004, Rhys-Davies stated the following in a controversial interview with a Welsh news website about the Muslim population, stating:

There is a demographic catastrophe happening in Europe that nobody wants to talk about, that we daren't bring up because we are so cagey about not offending people racially. And rightly we should be. But there is a cultural thing as well. By 2020, 50 per cent of the children in Holland under the age of 18 will be of Muslim descent.[15]

His comments were endorsed by the British National Party.[16][17] Rhys-Davies commented that the BNP "could do no harm" describing it as peaceful yet stating it was "distressing to find yourself on a BNP leaflet".[15] He was also endorsed in a National Vanguard editorial.[18] In an interview with the conservative journal National Review, he clarified that he is opposed to Islamic extremism precisely because he feels that it violates the "Western values" of equality, democracy, tolerance, and the abolition of slavery.[19]


1974The Black WindmillFake Military PolicemanUncredited
1975The Naked Civil ServantBarndoor
1979A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley SquareSolicitor
1981Raiders of the Lost ArkSallah
1982Best RevengeMustapha
1982IvanhoeFront de Bœuf
1982Victor VictoriaAndre Cassell
1982The Island of AdventureSmith
1983SadatGamal Abdel Nasser
1984Sword of the ValiantBaron Fortinbras
1985King Solomon's MinesDogati
1986FirewalkerCorky Taylor
1987The Living DaylightsGeneral Leonid Pushkin
1989Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadeSallah
1989Great ExpectationsJoe Gargery
1991The Unnamable Returns
1992The Double 0 KidRudi Von Kseenbaum
1992The Lost WorldChallenger
1992Return to the Lost WorldChallenger
1993Sunset GrillStockton
1993Cyborg CopKessel
1993The Seventh CoinCaptain Galil
1993The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph CarterProfessor Warren
1994The High CrusadeBruder Parvus
1994Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness PC, DOSNarratorVoice
1994Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger PC, DOSGen. James 'Paladin' Taggart / Prince Thrakhath nar KirankaVoice
1996The Great White HypeJohnny Windsor
1996Glory DazeLuther
1996Aladdin and the King of ThievesCassimVoice
1996Marquis de SadeInspector Marais
1996Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom PCSenator James 'Paladin' TaggartVoice
1997Cats Don't DanceWoolie MammothVoice
1997Bloodsport IIIJacques Duvalier
1999Secret of the AndesFather Claver
1999Dune 2000Noree Moneo
1999Au PairNigel Kent
2000BritannicCaptain Barrett
2001The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the RingGimli / GlóinPhoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2001Never Say Never Mind: The Swedish Bikini TeamHakim
2002SabretoothAnthony Bricklin
2002The Lord of the Rings: The Two TowersGimli / Voice of TreebeardPhoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2002Endangered SpeciesPolice Lt. Wyznowski
2002ScorcherDr. Matthew Sallin
2003CoronadoPresidente Hugo Luis Ramos
2003FreelancerRichard Winston TobiasVoice
2003The Jungle Book 2Ranjan's fatherVoice
2003The MedallionCmdr. Hammerstock-Smythe
2003The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the KingGimliBroadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated—Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
200412 Days of TerrorCaptain
2004The Princess Diaries 2: Royal EngagementViscount Mabrey
2004La Femme MusketeerPorthos
2004The Lost AngelFather Kevin
2004The Privileged PlanetNarrator
2004Dragon StormKing Fastrad
2005The Game of Their LivesBill Jeffrey
2005Chupacabra: Dark SeasCaptain Randolph
2005The King MakerPhillippe
2006One Night with the KingMordecai
2006The Legend of SasquatchRanger SteveVoice
2006Princess of Persia
2007In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleMerick
2007The FerrymanThe Greek
2007Catching KringleSantaVoice
2008Anaconda 3: OffspringMurdoch
2008Fire & Ice: The Dragon ChroniclesSangimel
2009Prisoners of the SunProf. Hayden Masterton
2009Anacondas: Trail of BloodMurdoch
2009Reclaiming the Blade
200931 North 62 EastJohn Hammond
2010Medium Raw: Night of the WolfElliot Carbon
2011KJB: The Book That Changed the World
2011Sophie and Sheba
2012EscapeMalcolm Andrews
2013100 Degrees Below Zero[20]Ralph Dillard
2014Saul: The Journey to Damascus[21]Caiphas
2015Beyond the Mask[22]Charles Kemp
YearTelevision showRoleEpisodes / Notes
1974Fall of EaglesZinoviev
1975The SweeneyRon BrettPoppy (Season 2, episode 8)
1976I, ClaudiusMacroSeason 1, episodes 8 and 9
19771990Ivor GriffithSeason 1, episode 3
1980ShōgunVasco RodriguesMiniseries
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1982CHiPsNakuraSeason 5, episode 27
1983Reilly, Ace of SpiesTanyatos
1984Robin of SherwoodKing RichardSeries 1, episode 6 "The King's Fool"[23]
1987Marjorie and the Preacher Man[24]SeymourTelevision Drama
1988Noble HouseQuillan GorntMiniseries
1988War and RemembranceSammy MutterperlMiniseries
1989The Trial of the Incredible HulkWilson FiskMade-for-TV film
1991The Mystery of the Black JungleO'ConnorMiniseries
1991Tales from the CryptDuvalSeason 3, episode 6
1992Batman: The Animated Series'Baron' Waclaw JozekSeason 1, episode 25
1992Archaeology[25][26]HimselfVoyages of the Vikings
1993–1994The UntouchablesAgent Michael Malone15 episodes
1994A Flintstones Christmas CarolCharles Brickens (voice)Television special
1995–1997SlidersProf. Maximilian Arturo40 episodes
1995Fantastic FourThor2 episodes; Season 2, episodes 6 and 8
1996The Incredible HulkThorSeason 1, episode 9
1996GargoylesMacbethSeason 1, episode 1
1996Boo to You Too! Winnie the PoohNarratorHalloween television special
1996Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the RealmAsgarth
1997You WishMadman Mustapha3 episodes
1997Star Trek: VoyagerLeonardo da Vinci2 episodes
2002Justice LeagueHadesSeason 1, episodes 8 and 9
2002Fillmore!LennySeason 1, episode 8
2003Helen of TroyKing PriamMiniseries
2005Revelations (Omnium Finis Imminet)Professor Jonah LampleyMiniseries
2009Dark Days in Monkey CityNarrator3 episodes
2009Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of FireGrimshank3 Episodes
2010Legend of the SeekerHoraceSeason 2, episode 17
2012PsychMuseum CuratorSeason 6, episode 10
2014Let The Season InNarratorMormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert Special (filmed 2013)
2014Once Upon a TimeGrand PabbieVoice / Season 4, Episodes 1, 6, 7

Audio books[edit]


  1. ^ "Lord of the Rings star: I'm settled with a new family but I'll never leave my ailing wife | Mail Online". Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  2. ^ "John Rhys-Davies". BBC Wales – Arts. 3 November 2009. para. 2. Retrieved 18 December 2010. 
  3. ^ "Putting Ammanford on the map". South Wales Guardian (Newsquest Media Group). 30 April 2003. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 18 December 2010. 
  4. ^ "John Rhys-Davies Biography (1944–)". Retrieved 27 May 2009. 
  5. ^ "John Rhys Davies Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 27 May 2009. 
  6. ^ "John Rhys-Davis". nTZ. Retrieved 27 May 2009. 
  7. ^ "The Privileged Planet: John Rhys-Davies, Lad Allen: Movies & TV". Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  8. ^ "BBC One – Coming Home, Series 8, John Rhys-Davies". Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  9. ^ "John Rhys-Davies celebrity". Mooviees. Retrieved 27 May 2009. 
  10. ^ Fellowship of the Rings Extended Edition DVD
  11. ^ "You think I'm going to be tattooed by some drunken Maori with a dirty needle? Think again. If I had a bloody tattoo for every film I'd done, I'd be a walking billboard". 
  12. ^ "John Rhys-Davies Signs on as Narrator". Reclaiming the Blade. Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  13. ^ "John Rhys-Davies in Star Wars Episode III: A Grievous Media Hoax". The Rubber Chicken. Retrieved 27 May 2009. 
  14. ^ [1][dead link]
  15. ^ a b Ballinger, Lucy (18 January 2004). "Welsh star in race row". Wales on Sunday. Retrieved 27 May 2009. 
  16. ^ BNP, Gimli battles for the West (Archived September 30, 2007 at the Wayback Machine)
  17. ^ BNP, “Stand, men of the West” (Archived September 27, 2007 at the Wayback Machine), BNP Leaflet at the Wayback Machine (archived September 27, 2007)
  18. ^ Camberly, Neil (7 January 2004). "The Lord of the Rings' GIMLI speaks up for the West". National Vanguard. Archived from the original on 6 February 2007. Retrieved 27 May 2009. 
  19. ^ Leigh, Andrew. "No Sean Penn". National Review. Retrieved 27 May 2009. 
  20. ^ 100 Degrees Below Zero at the Internet Movie Database
  21. ^ Saul: The Journey to Damascus at the Internet Movie Database
  22. ^ Beyond the Mask - Official Website, January 2015.
  23. ^ "The King's Fool". BFI Film Forever. British Film Institute. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  24. ^ "Marjorie and the Preacherman (1987) | BFI". Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  25. ^
  26. ^

External links[edit]