Ving Rhames

Irving Rameses Rhames (born May 12, 1959) is an American stage and screen actor. He is best known for his starring role as Luther Stickell in the Mission: Impossible film series and his supporting role as gang kingpin Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction. He also appeared in Jacob's Ladder (1990), Dave (1993), Striptease (1996), Don King: Only in America (1997), Rosewood (1997), Con Air (1997), Bringing Out the Dead (1999), Baby Boy (2001), Dawn of the Dead (2004), Day of the Dead (2008), Piranha 3D (2010), and Father Figures (2017). He voiced Cobra Bubbles in the animated film Lilo & Stitch (2002). Rhames is a Golden Globe Award winner, as well as an Emmy Award and Screen Actors Guild Award nominee.

Ving Rhames
Rhames in 2014
Irving Rameses Rhames

(1959-05-12) May 12, 1959
ResidenceLos Angeles, California, U.S.
EducationState University of New York, Purchase
Juilliard School (BFA)
Years active1984–present
Valerie Scott
(m. 1994; div. 1999)

Deborah Reed (m. 2000)

Early life and education

Rhames was born on May 12, 1959 in Harlem, New York City, the son of Reather, a homemaker, and Ernest Rhames, an auto mechanic.[1][2] His parents were raised as sharecroppers in South Carolina.[2][3] He was named after NBC journalist Irving R. Levine.[4]

He entered New York's High School of Performing Arts, where he discovered his love of acting. After high school, he studied drama at SUNY Purchase, where fellow acting student Stanley Tucci gave him his nickname "Ving". Rhames later transferred to the Juilliard School's Drama Division (Group 12: 1979–1983)[5] where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1983.[6]


Rhames first appeared on Broadway in the play The Boys of Winter in 1984. He started out in film in Wes Craven's The People Under the Stairs (1991) as Leroy, he watched over Kevin Kline as Secret Service agent Duane Stevensen in Dave (1993), and he played Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction (1994).

Rhames played Dr. Peter Benton's brother-in-law on the TV medical drama ER, a recurring role he filled for three seasons. He played ace computer hacker Luther Stickell opposite Tom Cruise in Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible (1996). In 1997 Rhames portrayed the character of Nathan 'Diamond Dog' Jones in the popular film Con Air. and Muki in the Ice Cube film Dangerous Ground.

Rhames won a Golden Globe in 1998 for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film in HBO's Don King: Only in America. At the ceremony he gave his award to fellow nominee Jack Lemmon, saying, "I feel that being an artist is about giving, and I'd like to give this to you." Lemmon was clearly touched by the gesture as was the celebrity audience who gave Lemmon a standing ovation. Lemmon, who tried unsuccessfully to give the award back to Rhames, said it was "one of the nicest, sweetest moments I've ever known in my life." The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced later that they would have a duplicate award prepared for Rhames. That moment was #98 on E!'s 101 Awesome Moments in Entertainment.[7][8][9] The New York Times lauded Rhames for the act, writing that in doing so he "demonstrated his capacity for abundant generosity."[9]

Rhames appeared in Striptease (1996) as the wisecracking bodyguard Shad, Bringing Out the Dead (1999), then reprised his Luther Stickell role for Mission: Impossible 2 (2000). He played Johnnie Cochran in American Tragedy (2000), the ex-con boyfriend of Jodie's mother in the John Singleton film Baby Boy, portrayed a gay drag queen in the television movie Holiday Heart, contributed his voice for the character of Cobra Bubbles in Lilo & Stitch (2002) and the subsequent TV series, and played a stoic cop fighting zombie hordes in Dawn of the Dead (2004) and Day of the Dead (2008) remakes. Rhames has also appeared in a series of television commercials for RadioShack, usually performing with Vanessa L. Williams.

In March 2005, Rhames played the lead role on a new Kojak series, on the USA Network cable channel (and on ITV4 in the UK). The bald head, lollipops, and "Who loves ya, baby?" catchphrase remained intact, but little else remained from the Savalas original.

Rhames voiced the part of Tobias Jones in the computer game Driver 3.

Reprising his Luther role, Rhames co-starred in Mission: Impossible III (2006), had a cameo appearance in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011), and played a major role in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015) and Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018), the fifth and sixth films, respectively.[10] He is the only actor besides Tom Cruise to appear in all six Mission: Impossible films. It was announced that he would have a role in the Aquaman-based show Mercy Reef, however due to the integration of The WB and UPN for the new network, CW, Mercy Reef was not picked up. Rhames played a homosexual, possibly also homicidal, firefighter who comes out of the closet in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. He narrates the BET television series American Gangster.

In the 2008 film Saving God, he played an ex-con who is released from prison a changed man looking to take over his father's former church congregation in a deteriorating neighborhood. Rhames stars in Phantom Punch, a biopic of boxer Sonny Liston released directly to DVD as well as The Tournament portraying a fighter out to win a no-rules tournament.

Rhames makes an appearance in Ludacris's song "Southern Gangstas" on his album Theater of the Mind. Rappers Playaz Circle and Rick Ross are also featured on the track.

In 2010, he filed a lawsuit against the producer of a film titled Red Canvas,[11] claiming that he had only been paid $175,000 of a $200,000 contract.

He filmed the movie The Red Canvas with Ernie Reyes, Jr. and UFC lightweight contender Gray Maynard and Randy Couture.

In 2015, he filmed a series of commercials for The ADT Corporation.

Rhames is one of the narrators for UFC.

Rhames narrated the team introductions for the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI in February 2017.

Since 2015 Rhames's deep voice has provided the narration for numerous Arby's commercials, with the catchline "Arby's, we have the meats!"



Year Title Role Notes
1984Go Tell It on the MountainYoung Gabriel Grimes
1986Native SonJack
1988Patty HearstCinque Mtume
1989Casualties of WarLt. Reilly
1990The Long Walk HomeHerbert Cotter
1990Jacob's LadderGeorge
1991Flight of the IntruderCPO Frank McRae
1991HomicideRobert Randolph
1991The People Under the StairsLeroy
1992Stop! Or My Mom Will ShootMr. Stereo
1993Blood in Blood OutIvan
1993DaveDuane Stevenson
1993The Saint of Fort WashingtonLittle Leroy
1994Pulp FictionMarsellus Wallace
1994Drop SquadGarvey
1995Kiss of DeathOmar
1996Mission: ImpossibleLuther Stickell
1997Dangerous GroundMuki
1997Con AirNathan "Diamond Dog" Jones
1998Body CountPike
1998Out of SightBuddy Bragg
1999EntrapmentAaron ThibadeauxNominated—Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Best Supporting Actor – Action
1999Bringing Out the DeadMarcusNominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor
2000Mission: Impossible 2Luther Stickell
2001Baby BoyMelvinNominated—Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor
2001Final Fantasy: The Spirits WithinRyan Whittaker
2002UndisputedGeorge "Iceman" Chambers
2002Lilo & StitchCobra Bubbles (voice)
2002Dark BlueArthur HollandNominated—Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor
2003Stitch! The MovieCobra Bubbles (voice)
2003SinEddie Burns
2004Dawn of the DeadSgt. Kenneth Hall
2005Back in the DayJoseph "J-Bone" Brown
2005AnimalJames "Animal" Allen
2005Shooting GalleryCue Ball Carl Bridgers
2006Mission: Impossible IIILuther Stickell
2006Leroy & StitchCobra Bubbles (voice)
2007I Now Pronounce You Chuck and LarryFred G. Duncan
2008Animal 2James "Animal" Allen
2008A Broken LifeVet
2008Day of the DeadCapt. Rhodes
2008Saving GodArmstrong Cane
2008Phantom PunchSonny Liston
2009Echelon ConspiracyAgent Dave Grant
2009The Bridge to NowhereNate
2009Evil AngelCarruthers
2009The TournamentJoshua Harlow
2009The Goods: Live Hard, Sell HardJibby Newsome
2009SurrogatesThe Prophet
2009Give 'Em Hell, MaloneBoulder
2010Operation: EndgameJudgement
2010Caged AnimalMiles "Cain" Skinner
2010Master Harold...and the BoysSam
2010Piranha 3DDeputy Fallon
2010Red CanvasHimself
2010King of the AvenueNorman De'Sha
2010Death Race 2R.H. Weyland
2011Julia XThe Man
2011Pimp BulliesMiguel
2011Soldiers of FortuneGrimaud Torneur
2011The River MurdersCaptain Langley
2011Mission: Impossible – Ghost ProtocolLuther StickellUncredited cameo
2011Zombie ApocalypseHenry
2012MafiaRenzo Wes
2012Seven BelowJack
2012Piranha 3DDDeputy Fallon
2012Won't Back DownPrincipal Thompson
2013Death Race 3: InfernoR.H. Weyland
2013Force of ExecutionIce Man
2014Jamesy BoyConrad
2015Mission: Impossible – Rogue NationLuther Stickell
2017Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2Charlie-27Cameo
2017The StarThaddeus (voice)
2017Father FiguresRod Hamilton
2018Mission: Impossible – FalloutLuther Stickell


Year Title Role Notes
1985Miami ViceGeorgesEpisode: "The Maze"
1986Crime StoryHector LincolnEpisode: "Abrams for the Defense"
1987Miami ViceWalker MonroeEpisode: "Child's Play"
1987Tour of DutySP4 TuckerEpisode: "Burn Baby, Burn"
1988Spenser: For HireHenry BrownEpisode: "McAllister"
1989MenCharlie Hazard6 episodes
1989The EqualizerLuther PaxtonEpisode: "Suicide Squad"
1990When You Remember Me LeonTV film
1994–1996ERWalter Robbins8 episodes
1995Ed McBain's 87th Precinct: LightningDetective Artie BrownTV film
1995New York UndercoverMax VillarealEpisode: "Olde Thyme Religion"
1995Deadly WhispersDet. JacksonTV film
1997Don King: Only in AmericaDon KingTV film
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
2000American TragedyJohnnie CochranTV film
2000Holiday HeartHoliday HeartTV film
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Actor on Television
2001UC: UndercoverQuito Real3 episodes
2002Sins of the FatherGarrick JonesTV film
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Actor on Television
2002Little JohnJohn MorganTV film
2002RFKJudge JonesTV film
2002The Proud FamilyGarrett KrebsEpisode: "A Hero for Halloween"
2002–2003The DistrictAttorney General Troy Hatcher5 episodes
2003Lilo & Stitch: The SeriesCobra Bubbles
2003The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy GeniusChiefEpisode: "Operation: Rescue Jet Fusion"
2005KojakTheo Kojak9 episodes
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Actor on Television
2006AquamanMcCafferyTV pilot
2007Football WivesFrank WallingfordTV pilot
2010GravityDogg McFee10 episodes
2011Black JackBlack JackTV film
2013Monday MorningsDr. Jorge Villanueva10 episodes
2014A Day Late and a Dollar ShortCecil PriceTV film

Video games

Year Title Voice role Notes
2003Mission: Impossible – Operation SurmaLuther Stickell
2004Driver 3Tobias Jones
2017Call of Duty: WWIIJefferson Potts

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
1998 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor in Mini-Series or Motion Picture Don King: Only in America Won [12]
Primetime Emmy Awards Best Actor in Mini-Series or Movie Don King: Only in America Nominated
Acalpulco Black Film Festival Best Actor Rosewood Nominated
Image Awards Outstanding Actor in Motion Picture Rosewood Nominated
Outstanding Actor in Television or Mini-Series Don King: Only in America Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actor - Mini-Series or TV Film Don King: Only in America Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Best Actor - Mini-Series or TV Film Don King: Only in America Nominated
2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Best Supporting Actor - Action Entrapment Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actor - Comedy or Music Bringing out the Dead Nominated
ShoWest Convention Best Supporting Actor Won [13]
2001 Black Reel Awards Best Actor - Network Holiday Heart Nominated
Image Awards Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture Mission: Impossible 2 Nominated
Locarno International Film Festival Special Mention Baby Boy Won
2002 Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actor Baby Boy Nominated
Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series UC: Undercover Nominated
Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Baby Boy Nominated
2003 Black Reel Awards Best Actor - Mini-Series Sins of the Father Nominated
Image Awards Best Supporting Actor - Comedy The Proud Family Nominated
Best Actor - Mini-Series or TV Film Sins of the Father Nominated
2004 Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actor Dark Blue Nominated
2006 Black Reel Awards Best Actor - Television Kojak Nominated
2015 Black Reel Awards Best Actor - Television A Day Late and a Dollar Short Nominated
Image Awards Best Actor - Television Nominated


  1. Mills, Bart (October 17, 1999). "Ving And A Prayer Faith Is The Cornerstone Of Rhames' Life — And His Character's In Scorsese's 'Bringing Out The Dead'". New York Daily News.
  2. Charles, Nick (June 23, 1996). "Nursery Rhames ... 'Mission Impossible' And 'Pulp Fiction' Star Ving Learned His Values At His Mother's Knee". New York Daily News.
  4. Newsmakers – Newsweek Entertainment –
  5. "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. April 2010. Archived from the original on November 11, 2011.
  6. "Ving Rhames". All Movie Guide. The New York Times. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
  7. Riché Richardson (2007). Black masculinity and the U.S. South: from Uncle Tom to gangsta. University of Georgia Press. ISBN 0-8203-2890-1. Retrieved February 24, 2011.
  8. Marlene Calvin (2010). Diasporic Lives: Alienation and Violence as Themes in African American Jamaican Cultural Texts. LIT Verlag Münster. ISBN 3-643-10574-6. Retrieved February 24, 2011.
  9. Gerston, Jill. "Ving Rhames – About This Person". The New York Times. Retrieved February 24, 2011.
  10. "Ving Rhames Returns for Mission: Impossible 5". August 17, 2014. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  11. Ving Rhames to Producer: Do I Look Like a Bitch?. Retrieved on August 28, 2010.
  12. "1998 Golden Globes Award". Ropeofsilicon. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  13. Jones, Anderson (March 10, 2000). "ShoWest 2000 Signs Off". Retrieved February 12, 2015.
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