John Rhys-Davies

John Rhys-Davies

Rhys-Davies at the 2014 Phoenix Comicon
Born (1944-05-05) 5 May 1944
Salisbury, England[lower-alpha 1]
Alma mater Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Occupation Actor/Voice artist
Years active 1974–present
Spouse(s) Suzanne Wilkinson
(m. 1966; d. 2010)
Partner(s) Lisa Manning (2004–present)[1]
Children 3

John Rhys-Davies (born 5 May 1944) is a Welsh actor and voice actor known for his portrayal of 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, Hades in Justice League and Tobias in the computer game Freelancer.

Early life

John Rhys-Davies was born on 5 May 1944 in Salisbury, England, and was raised in Ammanford, Wales.[2] His mother, Mary Margaretta Phyllis Jones, was a nurse, and his father, Rhys Davies, was a mechanical engineer[3] and Colonial Officer.[4] In the early 1950s his family lived for several years in Kongwa, Dar es Salaam, Moshi and Mwanza Tanzania, while his father was serving there as a colonial Police officer. 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.


He appeared sporadically on UK television in the early 1970s including his role as the gangster Laughing Spam Fritter opposite Adam Faith in Budgie. Later he played 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 films. 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.[5] In 2013 he appeared in the family history programme Coming Home, in which he discovered information about his grandfather's life in the Carmarthenshire coal mines.[6]

In 2014, he joined the cast of the television show Metal Hurlant Chronicles to play Holgarth, an immortal alchemist.[7]

In 2015 he had a role in the single player campaign of the PC game Star Citizen alongside Mark Hamill and Gary Oldman.[8] The work consists of full body Motion capture, including facial expressions and his voice and was recorded primarily at The Imaginarium Studios in the UK.[9]

The Lord of the Rings trilogy

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).[10] Therefore, although 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.[11]

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.[12] 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, and his eyes sometimes swelled 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

In addition to voicing the Ent Treebeard in Lord of the Rings, Rhys-Davies has also lent his distinctive deep voice to many video games and animated television series, including 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 Richard 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 had 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.[13] 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.[14]

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.

Personal life

Rhys-Davies married Suzanne A. D. Wilkinson in December 1966. They had two boys, Tom and Ben. Although they separated in 1985, they remained married until her death, in 2010, from Alzheimer's. He remained close to her and took care of her until she died.[15]

In 2004 he began living with Lisa Manning, and they have a daughter, Maia.[15]

Political views

Rhys-Davies in an autograph session in Sweden

Rhys-Davies holds politically conservative views. 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".[16]

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.[17]

His comments were endorsed by the British National Party.[18][19] Rhys-Davies commented that the BNP was so insignificant in numbers that it "could do no harm" yet stating it was "distressing to find yourself on a BNP leaflet".[17] He was also endorsed in a National Vanguard editorial.[20] 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.[21]



Year Film Role Notes
1974 The Black Windmill Fake Military Policeman Uncredited
1975 The Naked Civil Servant Barndoor
1979 A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square Solicitor
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark Sallah
1982 Best Revenge Mustapha
1982 Ivanhoe Front de Bœuf
1982 Victor Victoria Andre Cassell
1982 The Island of Adventure Smith
1983 Sahara Rasoul
1983 Sadat Gamal Abdel Nasser
1984 Sword of the Valiant Baron Fortinbras
1984 Kim Babu
1985 King Solomon's Mines Dogati
1986 Firewalker Corky Taylor
1987 The Living Daylights General Leonid Pushkin
1988 Waxwork Werewolf
1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Sallah
1991 The Unnamable Returns
1992 The Double 0 Kid Rudi Von Kseenbaum
1992 The Lost World Challenger
1992 Return to the Lost World Challenger
1993 Sunset Grill Stockton
1993 Cyborg Cop Kessel
1993 The Seventh Coin Captain Galil
1993 The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter Professor Warren
1994 The High Crusade Bruder Parvus
1996 The Great White Hype Johnny Windsor
1996 Glory Daze Luther
1996 Aladdin and the King of Thieves Cassim Voice
1996 Marquis de Sade Inspector Marais
1997 Cats Don't Dance Woolie Mammoth Voice
1997 Bloodsport III Jacques Duvalier
1999 Secret of the Andes Father Claver
1999 Dune 2000 Noree Moneo
2000 Britannic Captain Barrett
2001 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Gimli
2001 Never Say Never Mind: The Swedish Bikini Team Hakim
2002 Sabretooth Anthony Bricklin
2002 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Gimli / Voice of Treebeard
2002 Endangered Species Police Lt. Wyznowski
2002 Scorcher Dr. Matthew Sallin
2003 Coronado Presidente Hugo Luis Ramos
2003 The Jungle Book 2 Ranjan's father Voice
2003 The Medallion Cmdr. Hammerstock-Smythe
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Gimli / Voice of Treebeard
2004 12 Days of Terror Captain
2004 The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement Viscount Mabrey
2004 La Femme Musketeer Porthos
2004 The Lost Angel Father Kevin
2004 The Privileged Planet Narrator
2005 The Game of Their Lives Bill Jeffrey
2005 Chupacabra: Dark Seas Captain Randolph
2005 The King Maker Phillippe
2006 One Night with the King Mordecai
2006 The Legend of Sasquatch Ranger Steve Voice
2007 In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale Merick
2007 The Ferryman The Greek
2007 Catching Kringle Santa Voice
2009 Reclaiming the Blade Narrator
2009 31 North 62 East John Hammond
2010 Medium Raw: Night of the Wolf Elliot Carbon
2011 KJB: The Book That Changed the World
2011 Sophie and Sheba
2011 Ferocious Planet Senator Jackson Crenshaw
2012 Escape Malcolm Andrews
2013 100 Degrees Below Zero Ralph Dillard
2013 Prisoners of the Sun Prof. Hayden Masterton
2014 Apocalypse Pompeii Colonel Dillard
2014 Saul: The Journey to Damascus Caiphas
2015 Beyond the Mask[22] Charles Kemp


Year Title Role Notes
1974 Fall of Eagles Zinoviev
1975 The Sweeney Ron Brett Poppy (Season 2, episode 8)
1976 I, Claudius Macro Episodes 8 and 9
1977 1990 Ivor Griffith Season 1, episode 3
1980 Shōgun Vasco Rodrigues Miniseries
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding
Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1982 CHiPs Nakura Season 5, episode 27
1982 Ivanhoe Front-de-Boeuf
1983 Reilly, Ace of Spies Tanyatos
1984 Robin of Sherwood King Richard Series 1, episode 6 "The King's Fool"[23]
1984 Scarecrow and Mrs. King Lord Bromfield Season 2, episode 8 "Affair at Bromfield Hall"
1987 Marjorie and the Preacher Man[24] Seymour Television Drama
1988 Noble House Quillan Gornt Miniseries
1988 War and Remembrance Sammy Mutterperl Miniseries
1989 The Trial of the Incredible Hulk Wilson Fisk TV film
1991 Great Expectations Joe Gargery
1991 The Mystery of the Black Jungle O'Connor Miniseries
1991 Tales from the Crypt Duval Season 3, episode 6
1992 Batman: The Animated Series 'Baron' Waclaw Jozek Season 1, episode 25
1992 Archaeology[25][26] Himself Voyages of the Vikings
1993–1994 The Untouchables Agent Michael Malone 15 episodes
1994 A Flintstones Christmas Carol Charles Brickens (voice) Television special
1995–1997 Sliders Prof. Maximilian Arturo 40 episodes
1995 Fantastic Four Thor 2 episodes; Season 2, episodes 6 and 8
1996 The Incredible Hulk Thor Season 1, episode 9
1996 Gargoyles Macbeth Season 1, episode 1
1996 Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh Narrator Halloween television special
1996 Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm Asgarth
1997 You Wish Madman Mustapha 3 episodes
1997 Star Trek: Voyager Leonardo da Vinci 2 episodes
1999 Au Pair Nigel Kent Television film
2002 Justice League Hades Season 1, episodes 8 and 9
2002 Fillmore! Lenny Season 1, episode 8
2003 Helen of Troy King Priam Miniseries
2004 Dragon Storm King Fastrad Television film
2005 Revelations (Omnium Finis Imminet) Professor Jonah Lampley Miniseries
2008 Anaconda 3: Offspring J.D. Murdoch Television film
2008 Fire & Ice: The Dragon Chronicles Sangimel Television film
2009 Dark Days in Monkey City Narrator 3 episodes
2009 Anacondas: Trail of Blood J.D. Murdoch Television film
2009 Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire Grimshank 3 episodes
2010 Legend of the Seeker Horace Season 2, episode 17
2010 Three Wise Women Archangel Green
2012 Psych Museum Curator Season 6, episode 10
2014 Let The Season In Narrator Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert Special (filmed 2013)
2014 Once Upon a Time Grand Pabbie Voice / Season 4, Episodes 1, 6, 7
2015 Killing Jesus Annas
2016 The Shannara Chronicles Eventine Elessedil Regular
2016 The Lion Guard King Sokwe (voice) Season 1, episode 22
Video games
Year Title Role Notes
1993 Quest for Glory: Shadows of Darkness Narrator Voice
1994 Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger Gen. James 'Paladin' Taggart
/ Prince Thrakhath nar Kiranka
1996 Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom Senator James 'Paladin' Taggart Voice
1998 Dune 2000 Noree Moneo Actor
2003 Freelancer Richard Winston Tobias Voice
2015 Lego Dimensions Gimli Voice
2016 Star Citizen Graves Voice

Audio books


  1. Although some sources (including Rhys-Davies himself on several early occasions) state that Rhys-Davies was born in Ammanford, Wales, official birth records and Rhys-Davies himself confirm that he was born in Salisbury.


  1. "Lord of the Rings star: I'm settled with a new family but I'll never leave my ailing wife". Mail Online. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  2. "Hollywood actor John Rhys-Davies: 'I'm very proud of being a Welshman'". Wales Online. 23 November 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  3. "John Rhys-Davies Biography (1944–)". Retrieved 27 May 2009.
  4. "John Rhys-Davis". nTZ. Retrieved 27 May 2009.
  5. "The Privileged Planet: John Rhys-Davies, Lad Allen: Movies & TV". Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  6. "BBC One – Coming Home, Series 8, John Rhys-Davies". Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  7. "Exclu : de nouvelles photos de la saison 2 de "Metal Hurlant" [PHOTOS]". AlloCiné. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  8. "Star Citizen features Gary Oldman, Gillian Anderson, Mark Hamill". PC Gamer. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  9. Mackintosh, +Kieran. "Video Shows How Star Citizen intends to Use Motion Capture". Load the Game. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  10. "John Rhys-Davies celebrity". Mooviees. Retrieved 27 May 2009.
  11. Fellowship of the Rings Extended Edition DVD
  12. "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".
  13. "John Rhys-Davies Signs on as Narrator". Reclaiming the Blade. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  14. "John Rhys-Davies in Star Wars Episode III: A Grievous Media Hoax". The Rubber Chicken. Retrieved 27 May 2009.
  15. 1 2 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 April 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-29.
  16. Archived 23 April 2005 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. 1 2 Ballinger, Lucy (18 January 2004). "Welsh star in race row". Wales on Sunday. Archived from the original on 21 May 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2009.
  18. BNP, Gimli battles for the West Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine. (Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.)
  19. BNP, "Stand, men of the West" Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine. (Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.), BNP Leaflet at the Wayback Machine (archived 27 September 2007)
  20. 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.
  21. Leigh, Andrew. "No Sean Penn". National Review. Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2009.
  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 30 June 2014.
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