Interview with John Rhys-Davies

Interview with John Rhys-Davies

TIE.c is proud to present an interview with John Rhys-Davies, who played the part of Sallah in both Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. His character was the lovable friend of Indy who helped him through his adventures in two films, and has become a favorite among the co-stars of the Indiana Jones trilogy. The interview was done under strict time limits so it was short, but very enjoyable, we've seen just how gracious and wonderful a man Mr. Davies is and we are especially grateful for him to take time to talk with us. TIE.c is pleased to present an exclusive interview with John Rhys-Davies, conducted by Peter W. Lally and Ralph van den Broeck.

So you’ve must have some magnificent experiences from filming Raiders and the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Is there anything you would like to share with us?

You know, I was looking at Raiders again last night at the screening here, and seeing all my friends, some of them are alas, dead now. It was a sort of bittersweet experience. I think Harrison will excuse me for saying this, but you know it struck me that Paul Freeman Freeman’s performance as ‘Belloch’ in Raiders of the Lost Ark is actually I think the most complete and perfect performance of the lot. Harrison grows into the character and it’s definitive and Harrison has now become one of our great and sterling International film stars. I love Karen Allen beyond adultery But you know, I still think that the best performance in the whole film is Paul Freeman’s performance. And that’s a real compliment because, I mean, it was a very remarkable film. It was one of those great in seminal experiences. You know great filmmakers don’t just make a great film; they actually change the possibility of the craft for other filmmakers. And that’s what Steven did in this. When I first read the script, my agent called me up and said, “Well, what do you think?” And I said: “Well, it reads like a comic book. This is either going to be a disaster or it’s going to set a new fashion of making film.” And it set a new fashion in filmmaking. Wonderful experience. Wonderful people to work with. And Steven had his most effortlessly creative, because he was bringing us through very, it was a hard shoot, Raiders of the Lost Ark. And I’m infinitely grateful for the opportunity. Well you know working with Steven is like working with Mozart. An absolute, complete sense that anything is possible, anything is doable. You know, he is arguably one of the very, very greatest directors of all time. Actually if he were still was making silent movies, I think that Steven would be the greatest in silent filmmaker there ever was. He can tell stories trough image better then any man that I’ve ever known, any man that I’ve ever seen. And I have to say, I am very grateful for the chance of working with him, particularly on Raiders. Lovely Ronny Lacey now alas dead, sorry I’m getting quite nostalgic now. Go on you ask some questions! (laughs)

There are heavy rumors on Indiana Jones plot. Do you think it’s a good idea or should it be left as a trilogy?

Well, I hear these rumors every few years. I’ve long since ceased to get excited about them. If it happens, it happens. But you have to understand it all depends on the creative consent of three very remarkable men. George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford. And all those men in 1980 were in quite different position of their lives then these men now in 2003. They’ve matured, they’ve changed. Steven Spielberg whom direct Raiders of the Lost Ark is now actually a man who’s actually done ‘Schindler’s List’. And that has a different gravity sort of a different importance. I think it would be fascinating to see Steven Spielberg film of the 4th Raiders of the Lost Ark. Just to see how in the intervening years, how they’ve matured and changed. And none of these men do it for the money anymore. They do it for the extra glory that extra chapter in the annals And a 4th script, a 4th story has got to start off with a chance of being even greater then the first three, otherwise, these guys aren’t going to have any satisfaction Now if they ever get to that stage when they decide, “This is the one.” Then, oh God I hope to be in it. (laughs) But it’s a pretty hard thing to become better then the first one or the third one. And I’m only saying that because I wasn’t in the second one. But it’ll be great if it happens. Don’t count on it happening.

Is that a hint?

Nope. I’ve had people coming up to me today saying “I heard you turned down Raiders 4?” (laughs) I should be so lucky to be asked to do Raiders 4! These things are still in the laps of the gods. And it’ll be a remarkable film if it gets made. But if it doesn’t get made you’ve still got three marvelous films

It certainly has a lot to live up to.

Yes it does. And not only does it have to live up it, but it has to be better than it. And that’s the great challenge.

What is your favorite: Raiders or Last Crusade?

Actually I think Raiders was so, such an unusual film for it’s time and it changed the whole passion, the whole way of films were made. It’s had all sorts of rip off some copycats and stuff like that. It was all certainly a marvelous experience.

This has been a great experience Mr. Davies. Thank you very much for this interview.