John Rhys-Davies

John Rhys-Davies (born 5 May 1944) is a Welsh actor, voice actor and producer, known for his portrayal of Gimli and the voice of Treebeard in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Sallah in the Indiana Jones films and Cmdr. Hammerstock-Smythe in The Medallion. He also played Michael Malone in the 1993 remake of the 1950s television series The Untouchables, 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. He provided the voices of Cassim in Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Ranjan's father in The Jungle Book 2, Man Ray in SpongeBob SquarePants, Hades in Justice League and Tobias in the computer game Freelancer.

John Rhys-Davies
Rhys-Davies in 2018
Born (1944-05-05) 5 May 1944
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art
OccupationActor, voice actor, producer
Years active1964–present
Suzanne Wilkinson
(m. 1966; died 2010)
Partner(s)Lisa Manning (2000–present)

Early life

John Rhys-Davies was born on 5 May 1944 in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England and was brought up there, in Tanganyika and in Ammanford, Wales.[1] His mother, Phyllis Jones, was a nurse, and his father, Rhys Davies, was a mechanical engineer[2] and colonial officer.[3] 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 105 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, Marvel Comics character Kingpin in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989), Rhys-Davies also starred in another 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 in 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 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.[4] 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.[5]

In 2014, he joined the cast of the television show Metal Hurlant Chronicles to play Holgarth, an immortal alchemist.[6]

In 2015, he had a role in the single-player campaign of the PC game Star Citizen alongside Mark Hamill and Gary Oldman.[7] 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. He also played Salaah in several Indiana Jones movies.He was a memorable character in all four he appeared in[8]

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).[9] 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.[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]

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 "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 lent his distinctive 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.[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 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 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.[14]

In 2016, he provided spoken words for Voices of Fire, the sixth album by a cappella power metal band van Canto.[15]

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 Britain. In 2018, he lent his voice to the Isle of Man's tourism commercial.

John Rhys-Davies voice was recorded for some of the callouts in the 1993 Williams SuperPin "Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure" [16]

Personal life

Rhys-Davies married Suzanne Wilkinson in December 1966. They had two sons. Although they separated in 1985, they remained married until her death in 2010 from Alzheimer's disease. He remained close to her and took care of her until she died.[17]

In 2004, he began living with Lisa Manning. They have a daughter and reside between Waikato in New Zealand[18] and the Isle of Man.[19]

Political views

Rhys-Davies is not a member of any political party. As a university student in the 1960s, he had been a radical leftist, but changed his views when he went to heckle 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".[20]

In 2004, Rhys-Davies stated the following in an interview with World magazine 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.[21]

His comments were endorsed by the British National Party.[22][23] 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".[21] He was also endorsed in a National Vanguard editorial.[24] In an interview with the conservative journal National Review, he said 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.[25]

Rhys-Davies is a supporter of Brexit.[26] On 25 April 2019, he appeared as a panellist on the BBC's Question Time.



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
Ivanhoe Front de Bœuf
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
1991 The Unnamable Returns
1992 The Double 0 Kid Rudi Von Keseenbaum
The Lost World Challenger
Return to the Lost World 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
1996 The Great White Hype Johnny Windsor
Glory Daze Luther
Aladdin and the King of Thieves Cassim (voice) Direct-to-video
Marquis de Sade Inspector Marais
1997 Cats Don't Dance Woolie the Mammoth (voice)
Bloodsport III Jacques Duvalier
1999 Secret of the Andes Father Claver
2000 Britannic Captain Bartlett TV Movie
Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of MistsKing Akron / Baraka
2001 Never Say Never Mind: The Swedish Bikini Team Hakim
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Gimli
2002 Sabretooth Anthony Bricklin
Endangered Species Police Lt. Wyznowski
Scorcher Dr. Matthew Sallin
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Gimli
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Coronado Presidente Hugo Luis Ramos
The Jungle Book 2 Ranjan's father
The Medallion Cmdr. 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 Narrator (voice)
2005 The Game of Their Lives Bill Jeffrey
Chupacabra: Dark Seas Captain Randolph
The King Maker Phillippe
2006Shark BaitThorton (voice)English Dub
One Night with the King Mordecai
The Legend of Sasquatch Ranger Steve (voice)
2007 In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale Merick
The Ferryman The Greek
Catching Kringle Santa
2009 Reclaiming the Blade Narrator (voice)
31 North 62 East John Hammond
2010 Medium Raw: Night of the Wolf Elliot Carbon TV Movie
Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes Dr. Watson (voice) Direct-to-video
2011 KJB: The Book That Changed the World
Sophie and Sheba
Ferocious Planet Senator Jackson Crenshaw
2012 Escape Malcolm Andrews
2013 100 Degrees Below Zero Ralph Dillard
Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery MapGnarlybeard (voice)Direct-to-video
Prisoners of the Sun Prof. Hayden Masterton
2014 Apocalypse Pompeii Colonel Dillard
Saul: The Journey to Damascus Caiphas
The Prophet Yousef
2015 Beyond the Mask[27] Charles Kemp
2016 The Apostle Peter: Redemption Saint Peter
2017 Shemira Myer
2018 Aquaman Brine King
2019 Pilgrim's Progress Evangelist (voice)
2019 Mosley Warnie (voice)


Year Title Role Notes
1974 Fall of Eagles Zinoviev
1975 The Sweeney Ron Brett Episode: "Poppy" (season 2, episode 8)
1976 I, Claudius Macro Episodes 8 and 9
1977 1990 Ivor Griffith Episode: "William and the Wonderful Present"
1980 BBC Television Shakespeare Salerio The Merchant of Venice
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
Ivanhoe Front-de-Boeuf
1983 Reilly, Ace of Spies Tanyatos
1984 Robin of Sherwood King Richard Episode: "The King's Fool" (series 1, episode 6)[28]
Scarecrow and Mrs. King Lord Bromfield Episode: "Affair at Bromfield Hall" (season 2, episode 8)
1987 Marjorie and the Preacher Man[29] Seymour Television Drama
1988 - 1994 Murder, She Wrote Harry Mordecai / Harry Waverly / Lancaster 3 episodes (he played different characters)
1988 Noble House Quillan Gornt Miniseries
War and Remembrance Sammy Mutterperl Miniseries
1989 The Trial of the Incredible Hulk Wilson Fisk TV film
1991 Great Expectations Joe Gargery
The Mystery of the Black Jungle O'Connor Miniseries
Tales from the Crypt Duval Episode: "Dead Wait"
1992 Batman: The Animated Series 'Baron' Waclaw Jozek (voice) Episode: "The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy"
Perry Mason TV Movie Phillip Graff Episode: "The Case of the Fatal Framing"
Archaeology[30][31] Himself Voyages of the Vikings
Ring of the Musketeers Maurice Treville TV movie
1992-1993 The Legend of Prince Valiant King Hugo, King Donovan (voice) 8 episodes
1993–1994 The Untouchables Agent Michael Malone 15 episodes
1994 A Flintstones Christmas Carol Charles Brickens (voice) Television special
1995–1997 Sliders Prof. Maximillian Arturo 40 episodes
1995 Fantastic Four Thor
2 episodes; Season 2, episodes 6 and 8
1996 The Incredible Hulk Episode: "Mortal Bounds"
1995-1996 Gargoyles Macbeth (voice) 13 episodes
1996 Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh Narrator Halloween television special
Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm Asgarth (voice) Episode: "Overthrown"
1997 You Wish Madman Mustapha 3 episodes
Star Trek: Voyager Leonardo da Vinci 2 episodes
1999 Au Pair Nigel Kent Television film
2002 Justice League Hades (voice) Episode: "Paradise Lost" Parts 1 & 2
The Zeta Project Edgar Mandragora (voice) Episode: "Ro's Gift"
2000-2002 SpongeBob SquarePants Man Ray (voice) 2 episodes
2002 Fillmore! Lenny (voice) Episode: "Ingrid Third, Public Enemy #1"
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"
2008 Anaconda 3: Offspring J.D. Murdoch Television film
Fire & Ice: The Dragon Chronicles Sangimel Television film
2009 Dark Days in Monkey City Narrator 3 episodes
Anacondas: Trail of Blood J.D. 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
2012 Psych Museum Curator Season 6, episode 10
Missing Christmas Narrator / Santa Claus (voice) Television special
2014 Let The Season In Narrator Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert Special (filmed 2013)
Once Upon a Time Grand Pabbie Voice / Season 4, Episodes 1, 6, 7
2015 Killing Jesus Annas
The Adventures of Puss in Boots Goodsword (voice) Episode: "Sword"
2016 The Shannara Chronicles Eventine Elessedil Regular
Winter Thaw Martin Avdeitch Television Film
The Lion Guard King Sokwe (voice) Season 1, episode 22 "The Lost Gorillas"
2018 A Dickens Christmas (Mormon Tabernacle Choir) Narrator Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert Special
2019 Fresh Eggs Cutter Anderson[26]

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
1996 Ripper Vigo Haman Actor
1998 Dune 2000 Noree Moneo Actor
2003 Freelancer Richard Winston Tobias Voice
2015 Lego Dimensions Gimli Voice
2016 Star Citizen Graves Voice


  • 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)


  1. "Hollywood actor John Rhys-Davies: 'I'm very proud of being a Welshman'". Wales Online. 23 November 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  2. "John Rhys-Davies Biography (1944–)". Retrieved 27 May 2009.
  3. "John Rhys-Davis". nTZ. Retrieved 27 May 2009.
  4. "The Privileged Planet: John Rhys-Davies, Lad Allen: Movies & TV". Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  5. "BBC One – Coming Home, Series 8, John Rhys-Davies". Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  6. "Exclu: de nouvelles photos de la saison 2 de "Metal Hurlant" [PHOTOS]". AlloCiné. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  7. "Star Citizen features Gary Oldman, Gillian Anderson, Mark Hamill". PC Gamer. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  8. Mackintosh, Kieran. "Video Shows How Star Citizen intends to Use Motion Capture". Load the Game. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  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 30 June 2014.
  13. "John Rhys-Davies in Star Wars Episode III: A Grievous Media Hoax". The Rubber Chicken. Archived from the original on 6 August 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2009.
  14. John Rhys-Davies, Narrator Retrieved September 19, 2017
  15. "Van Canto: Audio Samples Of Entire 'Voices Of Fire' Album". 8 March 2016. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  17. Mainwaring, Rachel (20 June 2009). "John Rhys-Davies tells of his family's Alzheimer's agony". walesonline.
  20. Archived 23 April 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  21. 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.
  22. BNP, Gimli battles for the West Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine ()
  23. BNP, "Stand, men of the West" Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine (), "BNP Leaflet" (PDF). Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 19 January 2009.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  24. 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.
  25. Leigh, Andrew. "No Sean Penn". National Review. Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2009.
  26. "John Rhys-Davies on Gimli, Brexit and rural hell". RNZ National. 15 February 2019.
  27. Beyond the Mask - Official Website, January 2015.
  28. "The King's Fool". BFI Film Forever. British Film Institute. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  29. "Marjorie and the Preacherman (1987) | BFI". Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  30. "YouTube".
  31. "Holdings: The Voyages of the Vikings - York University Libraries".
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