John Rhys-Davies ist der
Zwergenkrieger Gimli, Gloins Sohn
Obwohl er 1,85 Meter groß ist, wird er einen Zwerg spielen, der kaum über einen Meter groß ist, der Computer machts möglich.
John Rhys-Davies ist überzeugt, dass DER HERR DER RINGE Filmgeschichte schreiben werde. Ausserdem werde die Film-Trilogie wahrscheinlich wohl auch Merchandising-Geschichte schreiben.
Jeden Morgen um 5 Uhr müsse er aufstehen, um sich in die Maske zu begeben. Zwei Maskenbildner würden dann 4 Stunden damit verbringen ihn in Gimli zu verwandeln.
Das einzige, was danach noch von ihm sichtbar wäre, seien seine Lippen und seine Augen.
Sein Kostüm wiege 40 kg, und zwei Helfer würden für das ankleiden benötigt. Der Helm alleine würde 6,8 kg wiegen.
Es sei sehr schwer unter der ganzen Maskerade zu spielen, da man immer mit der Gestik übertreiben müsse, damit überhaupt etwas auf der schweren Maske zu sehen sei.
Abend würde sein Gesicht wie verrückt jucken. Aber das sei alles kein Problem "Es ist herrlich und ich werde ziemlich gut bezahlt," scherzt Rhys-Davies.
Nach dieser Rolle werde sich sein Leben verändern und er werde wohl dazu verflucht sein, die nächsten 25 Jahre Gimli zu zitieren.
Von seinem kommenden Erfolg und den Kult um sich, lasse er sich aber nicht beeindrucken, "Ich habe schon einige Heiratsangebote bekommen. Es gibt mehr Fandom als Fanatismus." Er liebe die Fans.
Rings `tall dwarf' speaks
The Southland Times was given a rare interview with one of the lead characters from Peter Jackson's movie trilogy The Lord of the Rings. Queenstown reporter Meaghan Miller talks to English actor John Rhys-Davies about his role as Gimli.
English actor John Rhys-Davies' career is poised to reach new levels.
He has been in New Zealand for more than a year, living and breathing The Lord of the Rings.
He believes the Peter Jackson trilogy of movies will be a defining point in cinema.
The larger-than-life 1.85m-tall veteran of 80-plus movies plays one of the key characters throughout the trilogy of movies, dwarf-lord Gimli.
How Jackson manages to reduce a man comparable in stature to Orson Welles, and physically almost twice the height of the tallest of the hobbit characters, to dwarf size is something he cannot divulge.
"I think you'll find me small enough," he said.
Needless to say, when this man says Lord of the Rings is destined to make cinema history, he is convincing.
Maybe it will even make movie merchandising history.
Yes, there will be a Gimli doll.
Hardly a measure of success for Rhys-Davies, whose biography modestly describes him as an Isle of Mann farmer.
He already made it to doll-dom. His roll as Indiana Jones' sidekick Sallah in Raiders of the Lost Ark was immortalised in plastic.
Rhys-Davies has moved on. Now he's seriously into silicon.
Starting at 5am every day he and two make-up artists spend intolerable hours sharing personal space.
"They are this close to my face for four hours," he said, hovering his index finger centimetres from his chin.
The silicon facial prosthetic completely changes his face, he said.
"The only bit you see of me is a tiny bit of my lips and my eyes."
Once his big red eyebrows, an enormous plaited beard and long red hair are in place, he is ready to slip into some 40kg of costume – which it takes two assistants to carry. The helmet alone weighs 6.8kg.
Add the chain mail and a great deal of fierce pride and it creates Gimli, son of Gloin.
"The sheer weight slows you down, it's enormously top-heavy."
Behind the unbearable prosthetic – which begins to itch savagely five or six hours into a 12 to 13-hour filming day – Rhys-Davies is having to act so hard his face hurts.
"You have to do enormous overacting just to get anything on your face ... it's very hard to act in."
He comes home at night scratching his face, which in turn plays havoc with his social life, but he's loving it.
"It's glorious and I get paid lots," he said.
He is actually delighted to transform himself into a slightly inhuman but dignified and thoroughly respected Tolkien character.
Plus the part allows him to draw on his vast Shakespearean repertoire – something he finds he does with every role he plays.
He is convinced a few Gimli phrases will be quoted for the next 25 years.
Rhys-Davies predicts the trilogy will also project Peter Jackson into the super league.
"If you guys are smart, you'll organise a campaign to get Peter Jackson a knighthood. You have no idea how exceptional he is."
He described the dishevelled-looking director as a resourceful, unflappable, tireless legend in shorts.
"If this is successful it will have an enormous impact on tourism in New Zealand. Crocodile Dundee brought an extra 2 million tourists to Australia."
Rhys-Davies is not rattled by what the success and inevitable cult following could bring him.
"I've already received a couple of proposals of marriage. There's fan-dom then there's fanaticism."
He loves fans; the others are just embarrassing.
The need for secrecy during filming has been genuine, to ensure the full success of the trilogy.
"It's not to do with pushing people away. You can't put the egotism of one or two people on the internet above the over-exposure of the film."
The investment is large. So is the risk.
"There's a lot of eggs in this basket," he said.
When Rhys-Davies does eventually return to the Isle of Mann, he will take a couple of very big reminders of New Zealand with him.
Between projects – 25 Shakespearean productions, 11 other stage plays, 80-plus movies and countless television roles including Shogun, The Untouchables, I Claudius, Star Trek, Murder She Wrote and War and Rememberence – Rhys-Davies collects cars and flies aeroplanes.
Anything with an engine will do.
During his year in New Zealand he has bought a Cook Strait crayfish catamaran – for messing around in the Irish Sea – and (negotiations going well with a bloke from Ashburton) a $600 steam engine.
"It works," he said in defence.
Rhys-Davies and fellow cast and crew will continue filming in the Queenstown area until the end of the month.
The main filming in New Zealand will end this year with the release of the first movie expected by December 2001.