John Rhys-Davies
John Rhys-Davies
Rhys-Davies at a convention in 2003
Born May 5, 1944
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Occupation actor, voice artist
Years active 1964 - present

John Rhys-Davies (born May 5, 1944) is an English-born Welsh actor and voice artist. He is perhaps best known for his portrayals as 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 portrayed Professor Maximillian Arturo in Sliders, General Leonid Pushkin in the James Bond film The Living Daylights and provided of 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 lifeEdit

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 raised in Africa. He was sent to Truro School in Cornwall. He was one of 87 students in the first intake of the University of East Anglia.,[4] where he founded the Dramatic Society. (1963–1966) After teaching at Watton County Secondary School in Norfolk he won a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (1967-1969.) In 1966 he married Suzanne A.D. Wilkinson, a translator. They have two sons, Ben and Tom.


Early careerEdit


Rhys-Davies as Sallah in Raiders of the Lost Ark

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 a leading role in the television series Sliders as Professor Maximillian Arturo from 1995 to 1997. 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.

The Lord of the Rings trilogyEdit

Gimli With Axe

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 filmography of that was complicated by the fact that Rhys-Davies is of above-average height (6'1"),[5] whereas his character was supposed to be very short. 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, because Rhys-Davies' allergy to the prosthetics only allowed him to work once about every three days while in them.

Voice workEdit

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, 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 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. 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.[6] 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.

Political viewsEdit

John Rhys-Davies under autografsession

Rhys-Davies in an autograph session in Sweden

He has never been a member of any political party. As a university student in the 1960s, he was a radical leftist, but he started to change 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 Holland under the age of 18 will be of Muslim descent(sic)… 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.[7]

His comments were endorsed by the British National Party.[8][9] Rhys-Davies commented that it was "distressing to find yourself on a BNP leaflet".[7]

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.[10] "When I look at contemporary Islam, I see homophobia, forced conversion, genital mutilation, slavery, two million people being put to death in the Sudan because of their religion".[10]


  • The Naked Civil Servant (1975)
  • I, Claudius] (1976)
  • The Nativity (1978) (TV)
  • A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square (1979)
  • Shōgun (1980)
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  • Ivanhoe (1982)
  • Victor/Victoria (1982)
  • Sahara (1983)
  • Sadat (1983)
  • King Solomon's Mines (1985)
  • The Living Daylights (1987)
  • Waxwork (1988)
  • Noble House (1988)
  • War and Remembrance (1988)
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
  • The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989)
  • Great Expectations (1989)
  • The Lost World (1992)
  • Return to the Lost World (1992)
  • Sunset Grill (1993)
  • Cyborg Cop (1993)
  • The Seventh Coin (1993)
  • The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter (1993)
  • The Untouchables (TV series, 1993-1994)
  • The High Crusade (1994)
  • Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness (1994)
  • Sliders (1995–1997)
  • Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm (1996)
  • The Great White Hype (1996)
  • Glory Daze (1996)
  • Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996) (voice)
  • Marquis de Sade (1996)
  • Cats Don't Dance (1997) (voice)
  • Bloodsport 3 (1997)
  • Au Pair (1999)
  • Britannic (2000)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
  • Sabretooth (2002)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) (dual role)
  • Endangered Species (2002)
  • Scorcher (2002)
  • Coronado (2003)
  • Freelancer (2003) (voice)
  • The Jungle Book 2 (2003) (voice)
  • The Medallion (2003)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) (dual role)
  • The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004)
  • La Femme Musketeer (2004)
  • The Privileged Planet (2004) (voice of Narrator)
  • Dragon Storm (2004 TV Movie)
  • The Game of Their Lives (2005)
  • Chupacabra Terror
    • a.k.a. Chupacabra: Dark Seas (2005)
  • The King Maker (2005)
  • One Night with the King (2006)
  • The Legend of Sasquatch (2006)
  • In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007)
  • Prisoners of the Sun (2007)
  • The Ferryman (2007)
  • Catching Kringle (Short Film; 2007) (voice)
  • Anaconda 3: The Offspring (2008)


The Lost Angel (2004)

External linksEdit

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