Ving Rhames

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Ving Rhames
Ving Rhames 2014-05-29 20-33.jpg
Rhames in 2008
Born (1959-05-12) May 12, 1959 (age 61)
EducationState University of New York, Purchase
Juilliard School (BFA)
Years active1984–present
Valerie Scott
m. 1994; div. 1999)

Deborah Reed
m. 2000)

Irving Rameses Rhames (born May 12, 1959) is an American actor. He is best known for his starring role as Luther Stickell in the Mission: Impossible film series and his supporting role as gang kingpin Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction. He also appeared in Jacob's Ladder (1990), Dave (1993), Striptease (1996), Don King: Only in America (1997), Rosewood (1997), Con Air (1997), Bringing Out the Dead (1999), Baby Boy (2001), Dawn of the Dead (2004), Day of the Dead (2008), Piranha 3D (2010), and Father Figures (2017). He voiced Cobra Bubbles in the animated film Lilo & Stitch (2002). Rhames is a Golden Globe Award winner, as well as an Emmy Award and Screen Actors Guild Award nominee.

Early life and education[edit]

Rhames was born on May 12, 1959 in Harlem, New York City, the son of Reather, a homemaker, and Ernest Rhames, an auto mechanic.[1][2] His parents were raised as sharecroppers in South Carolina.[2][3] He was named after NBC journalist Irving R. Levine.[4]

He entered New York's High School of Performing Arts, where he discovered his love of acting. After high school, he studied drama at SUNY Purchase, where fellow acting student Stanley Tucci gave him his nickname "Ving". Rhames later transferred to the Juilliard School's Drama Division (Group 12: 1979–1983)[5] where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1983.[6]


Rhames first appeared on Broadway in the play The Boys of Winter in 1984. He started out in film in Wes Craven's The People Under the Stairs (1991) as Leroy, watched over Kevin Kline as Secret Service agent Duane Stevensen in Dave (1993), and played Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction (1994). He also played the buddy of George Clooney in Out of Sight (1998).

Rhames played Dr. Peter Benton's brother-in-law on the TV medical drama ER, a recurring role he filled for three seasons. He played ace computer hacker Luther Stickell opposite Tom Cruise in Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible (1996). In 1997, Rhames portrayed the character of Nathan 'Diamond Dog' Jones in the popular film Con Air, and Muki in the Ice Cube film Dangerous Ground.

Rhames won a Golden Globe in 1998 for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film in HBO's Don King: Only in America. At the ceremony he gave his award to fellow nominee Jack Lemmon, saying, "I feel that being an artist is about giving, and I'd like to give this to you." Lemmon was clearly touched by the gesture as was the celebrity audience who gave Lemmon a standing ovation. Lemmon, who tried unsuccessfully to give the award back to Rhames, said it was "one of the nicest, sweetest moments I've ever known in my life." The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced later that they would have a duplicate award prepared for Rhames. That moment was #98 on E!'s 101 Awesome Moments in Entertainment.[7][8][9] The New York Times lauded Rhames for the act, writing that in doing so he "demonstrated his capacity for abundant generosity."[9]

Rhames appeared in Striptease (1996) as the wisecracking bodyguard Shad, as Marcus in Bringing Out the Dead (1999), and reprised his Luther Stickell role for Mission: Impossible 2 (2000). He played Johnnie Cochran in American Tragedy (2000), the ex-con boyfriend of Jodie's mother in the John Singleton film Baby Boy, portrayed a gay drag queen in the television movie Holiday Heart, contributed his voice for the character of Cobra Bubbles in Lilo & Stitch (2002) and the subsequent TV series, and played a stoic cop fighting zombie hordes in Dawn of the Dead (2004) and Day of the Dead (2008) remakes. Rhames has also appeared in a series of television commercials for RadioShack, usually performing with Vanessa L. Williams.

In March 2005, Rhames played the lead role on a new Kojak series, on the USA Network cable channel (and on ITV4 in the UK). The bald head, lollipops, and "Who loves ya, baby?" catchphrase remained intact, but little else remained from the Telly Savalas-starring original.

Rhames voiced the part of Tobias Jones in the computer game Driver 3.

Reprising his Luther Stickell role, Rhames co-starred in Mission: Impossible III (2006), had a cameo appearance in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011), and played a major role in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015) and Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018), the fifth and sixth installments in the Mission Impossible film series, respectively.[10] He is the only actor besides Tom Cruise to appear in all six Mission: Impossible films. It was announced that he would have a role in the Aquaman-based show Mercy Reef; however, due to the integration of The WB and UPN for the new network, CW, Mercy Reef was not picked up. Rhames played a homosexual – and possibly also homicidal – firefighter who comes out of the closet in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. He narrates the BET television series American Gangster.

In the 2008 film Saving God, he played an ex-con who is released from prison a changed man, looking to take over his father's former church congregation in a deteriorating neighborhood. Rhames stars in Phantom Punch, a biopic of boxer Sonny Liston, released directly to DVD, as well as The Tournament, portraying a fighter out to win a no-rules tournament.

Rhames makes an appearance in Ludacris's song "Southern Gangstas" on his album Theater of the Mind. Rappers Playaz Circle and Rick Ross are also featured on the track.

He filmed the movie The Red Canvas with Ernie Reyes Jr., UFC lightweight contender Gray Maynard, and Randy Couture. In 2010, he filed a lawsuit against the film's producer,[11] claiming that he had only been paid $175,000 of a $200,000 contract.

In 2015, he filmed a series of commercials for The ADT Corporation.

Rhames is one of the narrators for UFC.

Rhames narrated the team introductions for the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI in February 2017.

Since 2014, Rhames' deep voice has provided the narration for numerous Arby's commercials, with the catchphrase "Arby's: We have the meats!"



Year Title Role Notes
1984 Go Tell It on the Mountain Young Gabriel Grimes
1986 Native Son Jack
1988 Patty Hearst Cinque Mtume
1989 Casualties of War Lt. Reilly
1990 The Long Walk Home Herbert Cotter
1990 Jacob's Ladder George
1991 Flight of the Intruder CPO Frank McRae
1991 Homicide Robert Randolph
1991 The People Under the Stairs Leroy
1992 Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot Mr. Stereo
1993 Blood in Blood Out Ivan
1993 Dave Duane Stevenson
1993 The Saint of Fort Washington Little Leroy
1994 Pulp Fiction Marsellus Wallace
1994 Drop Squad Garvey
1995 Kiss of Death Omar
1996 Mission: Impossible Luther Stickell
1996 Striptease Shad
1997 Dangerous Ground Muki
1997 Rosewood Mann
1997 Con Air Nathan "Diamond Dog" Jones
1998 Body Count Pike
1998 Out of Sight Buddy Bragg
1999 Entrapment Aaron Thibadeaux Nominated—Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Best Supporting Actor – Action
1999 Bringing Out the Dead Marcus Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor
2000 Mission: Impossible 2 Luther Stickell
2001 Baby Boy Melvin Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor
2001 Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within Ryan Whittaker
2002 Undisputed George "Iceman" Chambers
2002 Lilo & Stitch Cobra Bubbles (voice)
2002 Dark Blue Arthur Holland Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor
2003 Stitch! The Movie Cobra Bubbles (voice)
2003 Sin Eddie Burns
2004 Dawn of the Dead Sgt. Kenneth Hall
2005 Back in the Day Joseph "J-Bone" Brown
2005 Animal James "Animal" Allen
2005 Shooting Gallery Cue Ball Carl Bridgers
2006 Mission: Impossible III Luther Stickell
2006 Idlewild Spats
2006 Leroy & Stitch Cobra Bubbles (voice)
2007 I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry Fred G. Duncan
2008 Animal 2 James "Animal" Allen
2008 A Broken Life Vet
2008 Day of the Dead Capt. Rhodes
2008 Saving God Armstrong Cane
2008 Phantom Punch Sonny Liston
2009 Echelon Conspiracy Agent Dave Grant
2009 The Bridge to Nowhere Nate
2009 Evil Angel Carruthers
2009 The Tournament Joshua Harlow
2009 The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard Jibby Newsome
2009 Surrogates The Prophet
2009 Give 'Em Hell, Malone Boulder
2010 Operation: Endgame Judgement
2010 Caged Animal Miles "Cain" Skinner
2010 Master Harold...and the Boys Sam
2010 Piranha 3D Deputy Fallon
2010 Red Canvas Himself
2010 King of the Avenue Norman De'Sha
2010 Death Race 2 R.H. Weyland Direct-to-video
2011 Julia X The Man
2011 Pimp Bullies Miguel
2011 Soldiers of Fortune Grimaud Torneur
2011 The River Murders Captain Langley
2011 Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Luther Stickell Uncredited cameo
2011 Zombie Apocalypse Henry
2012 Mafia Renzo Wes
2012 Seven Below Jack
2012 Piranha 3DD Deputy Fallon
2012 Won't Back Down Principal Thompson
2013 Death Race 3: Inferno R.H. Weyland Direct-to-video
2013 Force of Execution Ice Man Direct-to-video
2014 Jamesy Boy Conrad
2015 Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Luther Stickell
2015 Operator Richard
2017 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Charlie-27 Cameo
2017 The Star Thaddeus (voice)
2017 Father Figures Rod Hamilton
2018 Mission: Impossible – Fallout Luther Stickell
2021 Mission: Impossible 7 Luther Stickell Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1985 Miami Vice Georges Episode: "The Maze"
1986 Crime Story Hector Lincoln Episode: "Abrams for the Defense"
1987 Miami Vice Walker Monroe Episode: "Child's Play"
1987 Tour of Duty SP4 Tucker Episode: "Burn Baby, Burn"
1988 Spenser: For Hire Henry Brown Episode: "McAllister"
1989 Men Charlie Hazard 6 episodes
1989 The Equalizer Luther Paxton Episode: "Suicide Squad"
1990 When You Remember Me Leon TV film
1994–1996 ER Walter Robbins 8 episodes
1995 Ed McBain's 87th Precinct: Lightning Detective Artie Brown TV film
1995 New York Undercover Max Villareal Episode: "Olde Thyme Religion"
1995 Deadly Whispers Det. Jackson TV film
1997 Don King: Only in America Don King TV film
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
2000 American Tragedy Johnnie Cochran TV film
2000 Holiday Heart Holiday Heart TV film
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Actor on Television
2001 UC: Undercover Quito Real 3 episodes
2002 Sins of the Father Garrick Jones TV film
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Actor on Television
2002 Little John John Morgan TV film
2002 RFK Judge Jones TV film
2002 The Proud Family Garrett Krebs Episode: "A Hero for Halloween"
2002–2003 The District Attorney General Troy Hatcher 5 episodes
2003 Lilo & Stitch: The Series Cobra Bubbles
2003 The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius Chief Episode: "Operation: Rescue Jet Fusion"
2005 Kojak Theo Kojak 9 episodes
Nominated—Black Reel Award for Best Actor on Television
2006 Aquaman McCaffery TV pilot
2007 Football Wives Frank Wallingford TV pilot
2010 Gravity Dogg McFee 10 episodes
2011 Black Jack Black Jack TV film
2013 Monday Mornings Dr. Jorge Villanueva 10 episodes
2014 A Day Late and a Dollar Short Cecil Price TV film

Video games[edit]

Year Title Voice role Notes
2003 Mission: Impossible – Operation Surma Luther Stickell
2004 Driver 3 Tobias Jones
2017 Call of Duty: WWII Jefferson Potts

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
1998 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor in Mini-Series or Motion Picture Don King: Only in America Won [12]
Primetime Emmy Awards Best Actor in Mini-Series or Movie Don King: Only in America Nominated
Acalpulco Black Film Festival Best Actor Rosewood Nominated
Image Awards Outstanding Actor in Motion Picture Rosewood Nominated
Outstanding Actor in Television or Mini-Series Don King: Only in America Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actor - Mini-Series or TV Film Don King: Only in America Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Best Actor - Mini-Series or TV Film Don King: Only in America Nominated
2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Best Supporting Actor - Action Entrapment Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actor - Comedy or Music Bringing out the Dead Nominated
ShoWest Convention Best Supporting Actor Won [13]
2001 Black Reel Awards Best Actor - Network Holiday Heart Nominated
Image Awards Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture Mission: Impossible 2 Nominated
Locarno International Film Festival Special Mention Baby Boy Won
2002 Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actor Baby Boy Nominated
Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series UC: Undercover Nominated
Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Baby Boy Nominated
2003 Black Reel Awards Best Actor - Mini-Series Sins of the Father Nominated
Image Awards Best Supporting Actor - Comedy The Proud Family Nominated
Best Actor - Mini-Series or TV Film Sins of the Father Nominated
2004 Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actor Dark Blue Nominated
2006 Black Reel Awards Best Actor - Television Kojak Nominated
2015 Black Reel Awards Best Actor - Television A Day Late and a Dollar Short Nominated
Image Awards Best Actor - Television Nominated


  1. ^ Mills, Bart (October 17, 1999). "Ving And A Prayer Faith Is The Cornerstone Of Rhames' Life — And His Character's In Scorsese's 'Bringing Out The Dead'". New York Daily News.
  2. ^ a b Charles, Nick (June 23, 1996). "Nursery Rhames ... 'Mission Impossible' And 'Pulp Fiction' Star Ving Learned His Values At His Mother's Knee". New York Daily News.
  4. ^ Newsmakers – Newsweek Entertainment –
  5. ^ "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. April 2010. Archived from the original on November 11, 2011.
  6. ^ "Ving Rhames". All Movie Guide. The New York Times. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
  7. ^ Riché Richardson (2007). Black masculinity and the U.S. South: from Uncle Tom to gangsta. University of Georgia Press. ISBN 0-8203-2890-1. Retrieved February 24, 2011.
  8. ^ Marlene Calvin (2010). Diasporic Lives: Alienation and Violence as Themes in African American Jamaican Cultural Texts. LIT Verlag Münster. ISBN 3-643-10574-6. Retrieved February 24, 2011.
  9. ^ a b Gerston, Jill. "Ving Rhames – About This Person". The New York Times. Retrieved February 24, 2011.
  10. ^ "Ving Rhames Returns for Mission: Impossible 5". August 17, 2014. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  11. ^ Ving Rhames to Producer: Do I Look Like a Bitch?. Retrieved on August 28, 2010.
  12. ^ "1998 Golden Globes Award". Ropeofsilicon. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  13. ^ Jones, Anderson (March 10, 2000). "ShoWest 2000 Signs Off". Retrieved February 12, 2015.

External links[edit]