Paul Rhys

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Paul Rhys
Born (1963-12-19) 19 December 1963 (age 52)
Neath, Glamorgan, Wales, UK
Occupation Actor
Years active 1985–present

Paul Rhys (born 19 December 1963) is a Welsh television, film and theatre actor.

Rhys was born in Neath, Glamorgan, and studied at RADA, leaving with the Bancroft Gold Medal in 1987. While there, he obtained his first major screen role, in Absolute Beginners (1986). Since then he has seldom been off the stage and screen. His first US exposure was when American film director Robert Altman cast Rhys, who was then still a student, as Theo van Gogh in Vincent and Theo opposite Tim Roth as Vincent.[1]

Early life[edit]

Paul was born in Neath, South Wales, to Catholic parents. His mother, Kathryn Ivory, was Irish-Welsh and his father, Richard Charles Rhys, was Welsh. The family moved to the village of Pencoed when Paul was ten. A committed punk during his youth, Rhys was in several bands before leaving for London to study at RADA.[citation needed]


Paul's first acting job was playing Liverpudlian judo expert Ralph in John Godber's hit play Bouncers, before he even went to RADA. In the first summer vacation from RADA, he was spotted by Philip Prowse and was invited to perform in Oscar Wilde's A Woman of No Importance at the Glasgow Citizens Theatre, playing the illegitimate son, Gerald. He then returned to RADA for two terms before leaving again, this time to play Dean Swift in Julian Temple's Absolute Beginners. Rhys completed his education at RADA by winning the William Pole prize and the Bancroft Gold Medal on graduation.


His first film role was in Franklin J. Schaffner's Lionheart. After a brief spell at the Royal Shakespeare Company he played opposite Colin Firth in Richard Eyre's award winning film Tumbledown. Soon after this, he appeared in Vincent & Theo, directed by the legendary American film director Robert Altman, as Vincent van Gogh's younger brother Theo van Gogh. Continuing the theme of famous brothers, Paul then played Sydney Chaplin opposite Robert Downey, Jr.'s Charlie Chaplin in Richard Attenborough's Chaplin. He went on to play Massis in Alan Bennett's 102 Boulevard Hausmann, after which he played opposite Peter O'Toole in Rebecca's Daughters. A series of films then followed including From Hell, Food of Love, Love Lies Bleeding and Hellraiser: Deader.


Running parallel to Rhys's film work has been a diverse and notable television career, working in leading roles with directors such as Mike Hodges, Stephen Frears, Sir Richard Eyre, Philip Martin, Christopher Morahan, Tom Vaughan, Edward Hall, Harry Bradbeer in productions including Tumbledown, A Dance to the Music of Time, The Heroes, Gallowglass, The Healer, Anna Karenina, The Deal, Beethoven, and more recently the television series Borgia, Luther, Spooks and Being Human (in which he played the vampire Ivan).[2]

In 1995, he portrayed Simon Templar (aka "The Saint") for a series of three radio plays for BBC Radio 4.

In 2014, he appeared as the lead, traitor Aldrich Ames, in The Assets miniseries.


Rhys is known to commit so fully to stage roles that on two occasions it has caused him to be taken to hospital, once with pneumonia and the other with mental exhaustion. In 2000 he performed in the title role of Hamlet at the Young Vic and later in Tokyo and Osaka. He received several awards for this performance. He also played Angelo in Measure for Measure for which he won the Critics' Circle Theatre Award, Houseman in The Invention of Love and Edgar in King Lear, for which he was nominated for an Olivier Award; these three plays were all at the Royal National Theatre. Edmund in Long Day's Journey into Night and Leo in Design for Living at The Donmar Warehouse, this was opposite Rachel Weisz and Clive Owen. He also briefly played the title role in Howard Brenton's play Paul at the National Theatre, but was unable to continue as he had lost a considerable amount of weight from overwork, dropping from 12 stone to nine.

From 6 February to 26 March 2016 he starred in a new version of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya by Robert Icke at The Almeida Theatre alongside Tobias Menzies.

He has won several film, television and stage awards.[citation needed]

Real-life characters played by Rhys have included Vlad Tepes, Ludwig van Beethoven,[3] Peter Mandelson,[4] Paul McCartney, Thomas De Quincey, A. E. Housman, and Frédéric Chopin.

Personal life[edit]

Rhys had a relationship with the late Australian actress Arkie Whiteley, with whom he appeared in Gallowglass.





  1. ^ "Rupert Cazalet - Paul Rhys". Public Broadcasting System. Retrieved 2016-08-04. Rhys burst on to the scene in dramatic fashion a decade ago, being chosen by Robert Altman to star with Tim Roth in Vincent & Theo. "I was spoilt early on with Altman. I worked with him and thought life would always be like that. Of course it's not," he smiles. 
  2. ^ Wales Online: "Actor Paul Rhys on the day he mud wrestled Ray Winstone", 12 November 2011. Accessed 14 March 2013
  3. ^ BBC Press Office
  4. ^ Guardian Reviews, The Deal, Channel 4, 16/9/2003

External links[edit]