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Last Updated: Monday, 12 May, 2003, 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK
Star feared Tolkien flop
Tom Bourton
By Tom Bourton
BBC News Online

John Rhys-Davies
John Rhys-Davies stars in the trilogy as the dwarf Gimli

On the trail of Welsh celebrity news around the world, it emerges that Welsh actor John Rhys-Davies nearly turned down the chance to star in the Lord of the Rings trilogy because he feared the films would flop.

Rhys-Davies, who plays the aggressive dwarf Gimli in the movies, told S4C's Popcorn programme he initially did not really want to take the part.

"My manager and agent both said 'You have to do it - it is going to be a big movie', and I said it could be a big movie - it could also be a big disaster.

"And I don't want to waste a couple of years of my life doing something that's a poor film and then two direct-to-videos."

The 6ft 1in star, from Ammanford in west Wales, also said he had reservations about the logistics of playing a dwarf, until his family got involved.

"I spent 30 years trying to get myself recognised. Why would I want to do three films covered in a full prosthetic make-up?," he said.

"I happened to be in England and my eldest son said 'Dad - with all due respect - you would be nuts to turn this down'".

My parents found that I was getting mocked by the other kids and they decided that they would resolutely only talk to me in English
John Rhys-Davies

Since then, the films have proceeded to smash box office records around the world, with the final instalment - The Return of the King - coming out on 17 December.

But as soon as Rhys-Davies got to the set, he said he quickly realised the scale of the project.

"I am proud to say I was the first to stand up and say 'Guys - you have no idea what we are making here - we are going to be making one of the great pictures of all time'."

However, he was forced to suffer for his art.

"Every time I put the make-up on, I lose all the skin around my eyes - each time it gets more severe."

Indiana Jones

Rhys-Davies revealed he used to be a Welsh speaker, until he was three years old, when children in Salisbury - where he was living - started making fun of him.

"My parents found that I was getting mocked by the other kids and they decided that they would resolutely only talk to me in English after that," he explained.

John Rhys-Davies
Rhys-Davies used to speak Welsh as a child

Meanwhile, Rhys-Davies has been quoted on the Dark Horizons website saying he would love to reprise his Raiders of the Lost Ark role of the Egyptian Sallah in the fourth Indiana Jones instalment.

Harrison Ford and Sean Connery will be reappearing in the latest Indy flick, which will be directed by Steven Spielberg.

But, although Rhys-Davies would love "to have one last bash at trying to make the character [Sallah] magical", he said he guessed he was not in the movie.

Another movie star making the news is Catherine Zeta Jones, who will reportedly be appearing alongside husband Michael Douglas on the London stage.

The couple are being linked to playing divorcees who are reunited while honeymooning in the same hotel with their new spouses, in Noel Coward's play Private Lives.

The couple will also be starring in Monkeyface, directed by Stephen Frears - filming is due to start this autumn.

Finally, Cerys Matthews will be one of the stars joining the Super Furry Animals at the Pesda Roc festival in Bethesda.

The gig will celebrate the anniversary of the Penrhyn Quarry strike which lasted for three years from 1900.

Rings dwarf recovers from fall
11 Dec 02  |  Wales

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