John Rhys-Davies is a Welsh actor and voice actor known for his portrayal of Gimli in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the charismatic 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, Macbeth in Gargoyles, Man Ray in SpongeBob SquarePants, Hades in Justice League, and Tobias in the computer game Freelancer.
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 Shōgun, 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 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), Dune 2000 (as Noree Moneo), 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. In 2013, he appeared in the family history program Coming Home, in which he discovered information about his grandfather’s life in the Carmarthenshire coal mines.
In 2014, he joined the cast of the television show Metal Hurlant Chronicles to play Holgarth, an immortal alchemist.
In 2015, he had a role in the single player campaign of the PC game Star Citizen alongside Mark Hamill and Gary Oldman. 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.
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). Therefore, although his character was supposed to be short, he was properly in proportion compared to the hobbit actors.
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 in Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance as the character Jherek, and narrated a documentary called The Glory of Macedonia.
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.
In 2016, he provided spoken words for Voices of Fire, the sixth album by a cappella power metal band van Canto.
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 leant his voice to the Isle of Man’s tourism commercial.