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John Rhys-Davies

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John Rhys-Davies
Rhys-Davies in February 2018
Born (1944-05-05) 5 May 1944 (age 80)
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, UK
Alma materUniversity of East Anglia
Years active1964–present
Suzanne Wilkinson
(m. 1966; sep. 1985)
PartnerLisa Manning (2004–present)

John Rhys-Davies (born 5 May 1944) is a Welsh actor known for portraying Sallah in the Indiana Jones franchise and Gimli in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He has received three Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, with one win, and a Primetime Emmy Award nomination.

John Rhys-Davies at Galaxy Con Richmond in 2023

Rhys-Davies is also known for his performances in the films Victor/Victoria (1982), The Living Daylights (1987), The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004), Aquaman (2018) and its sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023). He is also known for his extensive voice work including Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996), The Jungle Book 2 (2003), Gargoyles (1995–1996), and SpongeBob SquarePants (2000–2002).

He also gained acclaim for his television roles as Macro in I, Claudius (1976), Vasco Rodrigues in Shōgun (1980), and Michael Malone in The Untouchables (1993). From 1995 to 1997 he portrayed Professor Maximillian Arturo in Sliders.

Early life[edit]

John Rhys-Davies was born in Salisbury on 5 May 1944,[1] the son of Welsh parents. His mother, Phyllis Jones, was a nurse, while his father, Rhys Davies, was a mechanical engineer and colonial officer.[2]

Due to his father's work as a colonial police officer, he was raised in Tanganyika (today part of Tanzania) before his family moved to the Welsh town of Ammanford.[1] While in Tanganyika, his family lived in places such as Dar es Salaam, Kongwa, Moshi, and Mwanza. He was educated at independent Truro School in Cornwall and then at the University of East Anglia, where he was one of the first 105 students admitted and became a co-founder of its drama club. After a stint teaching at a secondary school in Watton, Norfolk, he won a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.


Rhys-Davies (right) signing autographs in May 2005

Rhys-Davies 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 as Sallah in the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark.[3] He reprised the role of Sallah in two subsequent Indiana Jones films.[4]

In 1989, he played Marvel Comics character Kingpin in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk.[5] Rhys-Davies also starred in another Clavell adaption, Noble House, set in Hong Kong, in which he plays Ian Dunross' corporate enemy, Quillan Gornt.[6] 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[7] as well as a leading role in the television series Sliders as Professor Maximillian Arturo from 1995 to 1997.[8]

John Rhys Davies at Galaxy Con Richmond in 2023

He also appeared in Reilly, Ace of Spies in 1983, made several appearances in Star Trek: Voyager as a holodeck version of Leonardo da Vinci,[9] starred as an ally of James Bond in The Living Daylights, and appeared in the film 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 film 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).

In 2004, he narrated The Privileged Planet, a documentary that makes the case for intelligent design.[10] He also provided narration in the MTV series Wildboyz around this time. 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.[11]

In 2014, he joined the cast of the television show Metal Hurlant Chronicles to play Holgarth, an immortal alchemist.[12]

In 2015, he had a role in the single-player campaign of the PC game Star Citizen alongside Mark Hamill and Gary Oldman.[13] The work consisted of full body motion capture, including facial expressions and his voice; it was recorded primarily at the Imaginarium studios in the UK.[14]

The Lord of the Rings trilogy[edit]

Rhys-Davies appeared as 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).[15] 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.[16]

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, was offered the tattoo instead as Rhys-Davies was disinclined to get one himself and Beattie had spent so much time as his double that he almost received co-credit.[17]

Rhys-Davies suffered severe reactions to the prosthetics used during filming, and his eyes sometimes swelled shut. When asked whether he would consider returning to the role for the film version of The Hobbit, he said, "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 "[t]hey'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."[18] He offered help as a dwarf advisor in 2011, but ruled out returning as Gimli in The Hobbit because of the punishing makeup required.[19]

Voice work[edit]

Rhys-Davies in September 2012

In addition to voicing the Ent Treebeard in Lord of the Rings, Rhys-Davies has lent his distinctive voice to many video games and animated television series, including the role of Hades in Justice League, the original voice of Man Ray in SpongeBob SquarePants (until both roles were recast with Bob Joles), 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. Next Generation magazine gave its Dune 2000 review 'an automatic one-star deduction for featuring John "Multimedia Whore" Rhys-Davies in the FMV.'[20]

John Rhys-Davies' voice can be heard on the 2009 documentary Reclaiming The Blade.[21] 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 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.[22]

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 Revised Standard Version-Catholic Edition translation. In 2011, he presented KJB: The Book That Changed The World, which features him reading diverse snippets from the King James Version.

John Rhys-Davies’ voice work also includes voice-over work with Breathe Bible.[23]

In 2016, he provided spoken words for Voices of Fire, the sixth album by a cappella power metal band van Canto.[24]

A resident of the Isle of Man since 1988, John Rhys-Davies provides the introductory voice-over to the Island's Castle Rushen, one of the best-preserved medieval fortresses in the British Isles. In 2018, he lent his voice to the Isle of Man's tourism commercial.

Rhys-Davies voice was recorded for some of the callouts in the 1993 Williams SuperPin Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure.[25]

In the 2023 video game The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria, he reprises the role of Gimli and narrates the opening scene.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]


Rhys-Davies in April 2013

Rhys-Davies married Suzanne Wilkinson in December 1966, and they had two sons together. Although they legally separated in 1985, they remained married until her death from Alzheimer's disease in 2010. They remained friends, and he took care of her in her final years.[26]

In 2004, Rhys-Davies began dating Lisa Manning. They have a daughter together, and split their time between homes in the New Zealand region of Waikato[27] and on the Isle of Man.[28]

Religious views[edit]

Rhys-Davies is a self-described "rationalist" and "sceptic" when it comes to religion. However, he holds Christianity in high regard and has stated that "Christian civilisation has made the world a better place than it ever was."

In February 2020, Rhys-Davies stated, "All the things that we value, the right of free speech, the right of the individual conscience, these evolved in first and second century Roman Christendom, where the individual Christian said, 'I have a right to believe, what I believe and not what the Emperor tells me.' From that our whole idea of democracy and the equality that we have has developed. We owe Christianity the greatest debt of thanks that a generation can ever have, and to slight it and to dismiss it as being irrelevant is the detritus of rather ill-read minds, I think."[29][30]

Political views[edit]

Rhys-Davies is not a member of any political party. He was a radical leftist as a university student in the 1960s, but changed his views when he went to heckle Margaret Thatcher, who he said "shot down the first two hecklers in such brilliant fashion that [he] decided [he] ought for once to shut up and listen".[31]

In 2004, Rhys-Davies said in an interview with World magazine: "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% of the children in Holland under the age of 18 will be of Muslim descent."[32] In an interview with the conservative journal National Review, he said that he is opposed to Islamic extremism because he believes that it violates the "Western values" of equality, democracy, tolerance, and the abolition of slavery.[31]

Rhys-Davies was vocal in his support for Brexit.[33] On 25 April 2019, he appeared as a panelist on the BBC's Question Time, where he debated Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election with Green Party politician Caroline Lucas. After Lucas suggested Trump should not be afforded a state visit to the UK, due to having lost the popular vote, Rhys-Davies banged his hands on the table and shouted: "Oh woman! Have you never read Kenneth Arrow and the Arrows theorem?" His conduct was subsequently described as "thuggish and sexist" by some viewers.[34][35] Rhys-Davies has since commented on his response: "I was annoyed. It's impossible to gather your thoughts when you've got someone making faces and twittering. It's like having a fly butting around your face."[36]



Year Film Role Notes
1973 Penny Gold Rugby Player
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
Victor/Victoria Andre Cassell
The Island of Adventure Smith
1983 Sahara Rasoul
Sadat Gamal Abdel Nasser
1984 Sword of the Valiant Baron Fortinbras
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
Rising Storm Donwaldo
1992 The Double 0 Kid Rudi Von Keseenbaum
The Lost World Professor Challenger
Return to the Lost World Professor Challenger
1993 Sunset Grill Stockton
Cyborg Cop Kessel
The Seventh Coin Captain Galil
The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter Professor Warren
1994 The High Crusade Bruder Parvus
Robot in the Family Eli Taki / Rashmud / Sashri
Blood of the Innocent Captain Shmuda
Asterix Conquers America Vitalstatistix English dub, uncredited
1996 The Great White Hype Johnny Windsor
Glory Daze Luther
Aladdin and the King of Thieves Cassim Voice, direct-to-video[37]
Marquis de Sade Inspector Marais
1997 Cats Don't Dance Woolie the Mammoth Voice[37]
Bloodsport III Jacques Duvalier
The Protector Rasheed
1999 Secret of the Andes Father Claver
2000 Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists King Akron, Baraka Voice
Delta Force One: The Lost Patrol Ivan
2001 Never Say Never Mind: The Swedish Bikini Team Hakim
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Gimli, Gloin
2002 Sabretooth Anthony Bricklin
Endangered Species Lieutenant Wyznowski
Scorcher Matthew Sallin
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Gimli, Treebeard
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Coronado President Hugo Luis Ramos
The Jungle Book 2 Ranjan's Father Voice[37]
The Medallion Commander Hammerstock-Smythe
2004 12 Days of Terror Captain
The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement Viscount Mabrey
La Femme Musketeer Porthos
The Lost Angel Father Kevin
The Privileged Planet The Narrator Voice
2005 The Game of Their Lives Bill Jeffrey
Chupacabra Terror Captain Randolph
The King Maker Phillippe
2006 Shark Bait Thorton Voice, English dub[37]
One Night with the King Mordecai
The Legend of Sasquatch Ranger Steve Voice[37]
2007 In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale Merick
The Ferryman The Greek
Catching Kringle Santa Voice
2009 Reclaiming the Blade The Narrator Voice
31 North 62 East John Hammond
2010 Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes Dr. Watson Voice, direct-to-video[37]
2011 KJB: The Book That Changed the World Self / Presenter
Sophie and Sheba Alistair Winston
Treasure Hunters Nathan Pickett
Ferocious Planet Senator Jackson Crenshaw
2012 Escape Malcolm Andrews
2013 100 Degrees Below Zero Ralph Dillard
Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map Pirate Gnarlybeard Voice, direct-to-video[37]
Prisoners of the Sun Professor Hayden Masterton
2014 Apocalypse Pompeii Colonel Carlo Dillard
Saul: The Journey to Damascus Caiphas
The Prophet Yousef Voice[37]
Time Lapse[38] Mr. Bezzerides
2015 Beyond the Mask[39] Charles Kemp
2016 The Apostle Peter: Redemption Saint Peter
2017 Camera Store "Pinky" Steuben
2018 Shemira Myer
Aquaman Brine King Voice
2019 The Pilgrim's Progress Evangelist Voice
Valley of the Gods Dr. Herrmann
Santa Fake Joe O'Brian
Mosley Warnie Voice[37]
2020 Grizzly II: Revenge Karl Bouchard Released as "The Concert"; filmed in 1983
Tainted Vladimir
Shadowtown Einar
I Am Patrick: The Patron Saint of Ireland Old Patrick Documentary
G-Loc Henry
Moments in Spacetime Mason
Silent Night: A Song for the World General Haig
2021 Prick'd Archie
2022 Kingslayer William Marshal
2023 Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny Sallah
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom Brine King Voice
Little Brown Bird Dad Short Film


Year Title Role Notes
1974 Zodiac Aikman Episode: "Death of a Crab"
1974 Fall of Eagles Grigory Zinoviev Episode: "The Secret War"
1975 The Sweeney Ron Brett Episode: "Poppy"
1976 I, Claudius Naevius Sutorius Macro 2 episodes
Warship CPO Cook Mantell Episode: "Heart of Oak"
1977 1990 Ivor Griffith Episode: "Health Farm"
Just William Authority Episode: "William and the Wonderful Present"
1978 Z Cars Terry Larkin Episode: "Fat Freddie B.A."
The Nativity Nestor Television film
1979–1980 BBC Television Shakespeare Eustace Chapuys / Salerio 2 episodes
1979 The Danedyke Mystery Armchair 6 episodes
1980 Shōgun Vasco Rodrigues Miniseries
1981 Peter and Paul Silas Television film
1982 CHiPs Nakura Episode: "Force Seven"
Ivanhoe Front-de-Boeuf Television film
The Quest Sir Edward TV series (9 episodes, 4 unaired)
1983 Reilly, Ace of Spies Tanyatos Episode: "An Affair with a Married Woman"
1984 Robin of Sherwood King Richard Episode: "The King's Fool"[40]
Scarecrow and Mrs. King Lord Bromfield Episode: "Affair at Bromfield Hall"
1987 Marjorie and the Preacher Man[41] Seymour Television drama
The Little Match Girl Police Chief Murphy Television film
Perry Mason Edward Tremayne Episode: "The Case of the Murdered Madam"
1988–1994 Murder, She Wrote Harry Mordecai
Harry Waverly
3 episodes
1988 Noble House Quillan Gornt Miniseries
War and Remembrance Sammy Mutterperl Miniseries
Goddess of Love Zeus Television film
1989 The Trial of the Incredible Hulk Wilson Fisk/Kingpin Television film
Great Expectations Joe Gargery Miniseries
1991 The Mystery of the Black Jungle O'Connor Miniseries
Tales from the Crypt Duval Episode: "Dead Wait"
The Strauss Dynasty Gribov Miniseries
1992 Batman: The Animated Series Waclaw Jozek / Baron Voice, episode: "The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy"[37]
Perry Mason Phillip Graff Episode: "The Case of the Fatal Framing"
Archaeology: Voyages of the Vikings The Narrator Documentary series (TLC)
Ring of the Musketeers Maurice Treville Television film
The Making of Aladdin: A Whole New World Host Documentary
1992–1993 The Legend of Prince Valiant King Hugo / King Donovan Voice, 8 episodes
1993–1994 The Untouchables Agent Malone 15 episodes
1993 Animaniacs Tympannini Voice, episode: "Piano Rag"[37]
1994 A Flintstones Christmas Carol Charles Brickens Voice, television special[37]
1995–1996 Gargoyles Macbeth, Arthur Morwood-Smythe, Findleach Voice, 13 episodes[37]
1995–1997 Sliders Professor Maximillian Arturo 40 episodes
1995 Fantastic Four Thor Voice, 2 episodes
Archaeology: Florida's Lost Empire Host Documentary series (TLC)
1996 The Incredible Hulk Thor Voice, episode: "Mortal Bounds"[37]
Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh The Narrator Voice, television special
Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm Asgarth Episode: "Overthrown"
1997 Freakazoid! Professor Beasthead Voice, episode: "Tomb of Invisibo"[37]
You Wish "Madman" Mustapha 3 episodes
Star Trek: Voyager Leonardo da Vinci 2 episodes
1999 Au Pair Nigel Kent Television film
2000 Britannic Captain Charles Bartlett Television film
2002 Justice League Hades Voice, episode: "Paradise Lost"[37]
The Zeta Project Edgar Mandragora Voice, episode: "Ro's Gift"[37]
2000–2002 SpongeBob SquarePants Man Ray Voice[37]
2002 Fillmore! Lenny Voice, episode: "Ingrid Third, Public Enemy #1"[37]
2003 Helen of Troy King Priam Miniseries
2004 Dragon Storm King Fastrad Television film
2005 Revelations (Omnium Finis Imminet) Professor Jonah Lampley Miniseries
2006 Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! Captain Proteus Voice, episode: "Demon of the Deep"[37]
2008 Anaconda 3: Offspring Murdoch Television film
Fire & Ice: The Dragon Chronicles Sangimel Television film
Kiss Me Deadly Yale Ericson Television film
2009 Dark Days in Monkey City The Narrator 4 episodes
Anacondas: Trail of Blood Murdoch Television film
Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire Grimshank 3 episodes
2010 Legend of the Seeker Horace Episode: "Vengeance"
Three Wise Women Archangel Green Television film
Medium Raw: Night of the Wolf Elliot Carbon Television film
2012 Psych Museum Curator Episode: "Indiana Shawn and the Temple of the Kinda Crappy, Rusty Old Dagger"
Missing Christmas The Narrator / Santa Claus Voice, television special[37]
2014 Let The Season In The Narrator Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert Special (filmed in 2013)
Once Upon a Time Grand Pabbie Voice, 3 episodes
2015 Killing Jesus Annas Television film
The Adventures of Puss in Boots Goodsword Voice, episode: "Sword"[37]
2015–2016 TripTank Various Voices 7 episodes[37]
2016 The Shannara Chronicles Eventine Elessedil 7 episodes
Winter Thaw Martin Avdeitch Television film
The Lion Guard King Sokwe Voice, episode: "The Lost Gorillas"[37]
2018 A Dickens Christmas The Narrator Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert Special
2019 Fresh Eggs Cutter Anderson[33] 6 episodes
2020 Wizards: Tales of Arcadia Galahad Voice, 7 episodes[37]
2022 Documentary Now! Garth Davies-Gruffudd Episode: "How They Threw Rocks"

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1994 Quest for Glory: Shadows of Darkness Narrator Voice actor
Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger Prince Thrakhath[37]
1996 Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom James Taggart
Ripper Vigo Haman Actor
1998 Dune 2000 Noree Moneo
2001 Forgotten Realms: Baldur's Gate – Dark Alliance Jherek Voice actor
2002 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Treebeard
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Gimli / Treebeard
Freelancer Richard Winston Tobias
2004 The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth Gimli / Treebeard (archive audio) archive audio
2006 The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II
2009 Risen Don Esteban Voice actor
2012 LEGO The Lord of the Rings Gimli archive audio
2015 LEGO Dimensions
2023 The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria Gimli[42][43][44] Voice actor

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Project Result
1980 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie Shōgun Nominated
2001 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award Best Cast Won
2002 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding by a Cast in a Motion Picture The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award Best Cast Won
2003 Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Cast The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Won
National Board of Review Best Cast Won
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award Best Cast Nominated

Audio work[edit]


  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989 Buena Vista Records)
  • Rescued (2006)
  • Sir Malcolm and the Missing Prince (2009)
  • Affabel: Window of Eternity (2007 John Bevere, 2009 Bethany House)
  • The Extraordinary Adventures of G. A. Henty: In the Reign of Terror (2016)
  • The Trials of Saint Patrick (2017)



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  8. ^ "Sliders is back after six months in limbo" by Ray Chatelin, The Province (29 Feb, 1996) [Final Edition] Retrieved from ProQuest 267545850
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  23. ^ John Rhys-Davies, Narrator Retrieved 19 September 2017.
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  30. ^ Arnold, Lori (13 February 2020). "Lord of the Rings Star Says the World Owes Christianity 'the Greatest Debt of Thanks'". Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  31. ^ a b Leigh, Andrew. "No Sean Penn". National Review. Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2009.
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External links[edit]