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John Rhys-Davies

Rhys-Davies at a convention in 2003
Born 5 May 1944 (1944-05-05) (age 65)
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, UK
Occupation Actor/Voice artist
Years active 1964–present
Spouse(s) Suzanne A.D. Wilkinson (1966-present)

John Rhys-Davies (born 5 May 1944) is a Welsh actor and vocal artist. He is perhaps best known for playing the charismatic Arab excavator Sallah in the Indiana Jones films and the dwarf Gimli in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, in which he also voiced the ent, Treebeard. He also played Agent Michael Malone in the 1993 remake of the 1950s television series The Untouchables, as well as portraying Professor Maximillian Arturo in Sliders, 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. He was recently seen in TV comedy Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire.


Early life

Rhys-Davies was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, the son of Welsh parents Mary Margaretta Phyllis Jones, a nurse, and Rhys Davies, a mechanical engineer[1][2] and colonial officer.[3] He spent much of his childhood in his mother's home town of Ammanford, Wales although he was also brought up in Tanzania. He was educated at Truro School and at the University of East Anglia where he was one of the first 87 students admitted,[4] 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 Arts.


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 captain Rodrigues in the 1980 television miniseries Shogun, and in the Indiana Jones movies. 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. He also made several appearances on Star Trek: Voyager as a holodeck version of Leonardo da Vinci. He also 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 The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne and the Hallmark Channel movie La Femme Musketeer. 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.[5]. He also appeared in Reilly, Ace of Spies in 1983.


The Lord of the Rings trilogy

Rhys-Davies as Gimli in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

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' 1", compared to the actors playing hobbits at around 5' 6".[6] 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.[7] Rhys-Davies is the only cast member who played a member of the Fellowship but did not receive a tattoo of the word "nine" written in the Tengwar script. 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' stunt double got the tattoo instead as Rhys-Davies was disinclined to get one himself.[citation needed]

Recently, in an Empire Magazine interview, John Rhys Davies revealed that he was asked to return to the world of Tolkien for the upcoming film version of The Hobbit. Davies turned down the offer, stating "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", referring to the pain he went through having the prosthetics fitted to play Gimli — Rhys-Davies suffered severe allergic reactions to the prosthetics with eyes swelling shut during filming. 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

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 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 "Paladin" Taggart). 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 distinctive voice can also be heard on the 2009 documentary Reclaiming The Blade[8]. In the narration, Rhys-Davies explores swords and fight choreography on film, a topic very familiar to him from his experiences in the 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.[9]

Political views

Rhys-Davies in an autograph session in Sweden

Rhys-Davies holds politically conservative views.[10] 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".

In 2004, in a magazine interview, Rhys-Davies compared the theme of The Lord of the Rings with the current situation of Western Europe, whose civilisation he described as being challenged by a rise of 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, fifty percent of the children in the Netherlands under the age of 18 will be of Muslim descent… And don’t forget, coupled with this there is this collapse of numbers. Western Europeans are not having any babies. The population of Germany at the end of the century is going to be 56% of what it is now. The populations of France, 52% of what it is now. The population of Italy is going to be down 7 million people.[11]

His comments were endorsed by the British National Party.[12][13] Rhys-Davies commented that it was "distressing to find yourself on a BNP leaflet".[11] He was also endorsed in a National Vanguard editorial.[14] Yet, in an interview with the conservative National Review, he clarifies that he is opposed to Islamic extremism precisely because he feels that it violates Western beliefs in equality, democracy, tolerance, and the abolition of slavery.[15] "When I look at contemporary Islam, I see homophobia, forced conversion, genital mutilation, slavery, two million people being put to death in Sudan because of their religion".[15]

Personal life

In 1966 he married Suzanne A.D. Wilkinson, a translator. They have two sons, Ben and Tom. Although he separated from Suzanne in the early 1980s, he has not divorced her and has no plans to.[citation needed] She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 1995 and he remains close to her. He has lived with Lisa Manning (ex-host from television show Good Morning) since 2004. They have a daughter, Maia. Davies has a house on the Isle of Man. Davies currently lives in Glenn Murray, a country town North of Huntly, New Zealand.[citation needed]


Audio books


  1. ^ "John Rhys-Davies Biography (1944-)". Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  2. ^ "John Rhys Davies Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  3. ^ "John Rhys-Davis". nTZ. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  4. ^ "Putting Ammanford on the map". South Wales Guardian. 30 April 2003. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "John Rhys-Davies celebrity". Mooviees. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  7. ^ Fellowship of the Rings Extended Edition DVD
  8. ^ [IMdb] 2009-01-22
  9. ^ "John Rhys-Davies in Star Wars Episode III: A Grievous Media Hoax". The Rubber Chicken. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b Ballinger, Lucy (18 January 2004). "Welsh star in race row". Wales on Sunday. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  12. ^ BNP, Gimli battles for the West (archived)
  13. ^ BNP, “Stand, men of the West” (archived), BNP Leaflet
  14. ^ Camberly, Neil (2004-01-07). "The Lord of the Rings' GIMLI speaks up for the West". National Vanguard. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  15. ^ a b Leigh, Andrew. "No Sean Penn". National Review. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 

External links

Simple English

John Rhys-Davies (born May 5, 1944, in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, Wales) is a British actor. Although he has played in many films, Rhys-Davies is probably best known for his characters in two blockbuster film series: Sallah in the Indiana Jones films and the dwarf Gimli in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

Selected filmography

Other websites

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