Indiana Jones Star: The Public Would Think My Character Is A Terrorist Today
He has played two beloved characters in two of the biggest franchises of all-time.
But British actor John Rhys-Davies – aka dwarf Gimli in ‘Lord of the Rings’ – is worried his other famous creation, the heroic Arab Sallah in the first ‘Indiana Jones’ film ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’ won’t be accepted were he to appear in the upcoming new movie.
“Sallah is the most popular Arab in mid-late 20th century Western culture,” the 72-year-old actor tells Yahoo. “[But] it’s just possible that the sensibility of the world has moved on from loving a Sallah to thinking ‘is he another bomb-throwing, Islamist fanatic’ or something like that.”
The star turned down ‘Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull’ due to the smallness of the role, explaining to Digital Spy, “They wanted me to do a bit of green-screen - walk in, sit down and clap - and they were going to cut that into the wedding scene at the end. I turned it down because it seemed to me that that would be a bit of a betrayal of the audience’s expectations.”
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But despite Harrison Ford admitting he will appear in a fifth instalment, Rhys-Davies has yet to hear from the filmmakers.
“Has my phone been ringing off the hook? No,” he admits. “They haven’t got a script yet, so I wouldn’t expect to be asked. If we don’t get back to the desert then it’ll have to be an extremely remarkable piece of writing that will bring old Sallah back into it.”
Meanwhile, Rhys-Davies is currently starring as elf king Eventine Elessedil in the MTV adaptation of Terry Brooks’ fantasy book series ‘The Shannara Chronicles’.
Yet while he may have swapped dwarf make-up for pointy ears (“Eat your heart out Orlando Bloom!” he jokes), he reveals the elves of ‘The Shannara Chronicles’ are very different to those of Middle Earth.
“They’re very human in terms of the emotions and their politics,” he says, before adding, “how interesting it would be having Terry’s elves reminiscing and recollecting of the Elvish pre-history of Tolkien.”
He also doesn’t entirely agree with ‘LOTR’ Viggo Mortensen’s assessment that the second and third movies were “a mess” and would have been “straight to video” had the first one not been such a big success enabling director Peter Jackson to do massive reshoots.
“That damn book is unfilmable,” he says, “I’ve been around pieces that have fallen apart and that terrible sense of panic in people’s eyes…it did feel pretty chaotic and you did have to jump from place to place physically as well as in terms of thought, but I was in the hands of a genius director and producer.”
But in a world of remakes, sequels and studios relying on known quantities year after year, would he be happy seeing a rebooted ‘Lord of the Rings’ some time in the future?
“Would they remake ‘Lord of the Rings’?” he laughs. “Not if they’ve got any bloody sense they won’t!”
‘The Shannara Chronicles’ Season One is released on DVD and Blu-ray from 6 June.
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Image credits: Rex_Shutterstock, Paramount Pictures