Paul Rhys

Paul Rhys
Born (1963-12-19) 19 December 1963
Neath, Glamorgan, Wales, UK
Alma mater Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Occupation Actor
Years active 1983–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 1985. After graduating, 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

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.


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.[3] 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.

Real-life characters played by Rhys have included Vlad Tepes, Ludwig van Beethoven,[4] Peter Mandelson,[5] Paul McCartney, Thomas De Quincey, A. E. Housman, and Frédéric Chopin.

Personal life

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



Year Title Role Notes
1986 Absolute Beginners Dean Swift
1987 Lionheart Mayor of the Underground City
1987 Little Dorrit Charles Stiltstalking
1989 Spirit Douglas Rimmer
1990 Vincent & Theo Theo van Gogh
1991 Becoming Colette Chapo
1992 Rebecca's Daughters Anthony Raine
1992 Chaplin Sydney Chaplin
1992 Nina Takes a Lover Photographer
1999 Love Lies Bleeding Dr. Jonathan Stephens
1999 The Strange Case of Delphina Potocka or The Mystery of Chopin Frédéric Chopin
2001 From Hell Dr. Ferral
2002 Food of Love Richard Kennington
2003 Vacuum Adam Short film
2003 Y Mabinogi Lord Pwyll Voice
2003 The Deal Peter Mandelson
2005 Hellraiser: Deader Winter Direct-to-video
2007 Unknown Things Hoogstraten
2011 Eliminate: Archie Cookson Archie Cookson BIFFF Thriller Prize - Special Mention


Year Title Role Notes
1987 My Family and Other Animals George
1988 Tumbledown Hugh MacKessac Television film
1988 The Heroes Ivan Lyon
1990 Screen Two Amable Massis Series 7, Episode 5: "102 Boulevard Haussmann"
1990 Opium Eaters Thomas De Quincey Television film
1992 Chillers Adam Marshall Series 1, Episode 9: "A Bird Poised to Fly"
1993 Gallowglass Sandor
1994 The Healer Dr. John Lassiter Television film; BAFTA Cymru Award for Best Actor
1994 A Summer's Day Dream Christopher Television film
1995 Ghosts Captain Peter Buckle Series 1, Episode 2: "Blood and Water"
1995 The Haunting of Helen Walker Edward Goffe Television film
1996 Kavanagh QC Sam Wicks Series 2, Episode 6: "Job Satisfaction"
1997 A Dance to the Music of Time Charles Stringham
1998 Performance Edgar King Lear
2000 Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) Douglas Milton Series 1, Episode 4: "Paranoia"
2000 I Saw You Ben Walters Television film
2000 Anna Karenina Nikolai
2001 The Innocent David Pastorov Television film
2001 The Cazalets Rupert Cazalet
2002 I Saw You Ben Walters
2002 The Lives of Animals John Television film
2003 Murder in Mind Matthew Hopkins Series 3, Episode 1: "Echoes"
2005 Timewatch Cicero Episode: "Murder in Rome"
2005 Beethoven Ludwig van Beethoven
2006 The Ten Commandments Ramesses II
2008 Bonekickers Edward Laygass Series 1, Episode 1: "Army of God"
2008 Agatha Christie's Poirot Robin Upward Series 11, Episode 1: "Mrs McGinty's Dead"
2008 Spooks Alexis Meynell Series 7, Episode 5
2009 The Queen Prince Charles Series 1, Episode 4: "The Enemy Within"
2010 Being Human Ivan 5 episodes
2010 Luther Lucien Burgess Series 1, Episode 3
2010 New Tricks Sebastian Carter Series 7, Episode 1: "Dead Man Talking"
2010 When Harvey Met Bob Paul McCartney Television film
2010 Agatha Christie's Marple Lewis Pritchard Series 5, Episode 3: "The Blue Geranium"
2011 Murdoch Mysteries Dr. Llewllyn Francis 3 episodes
2011 Moving On Andy Series 3, Episode 4: "Donor"
2011 Great Expectations Compeyson/Denby
2013–14 Borgia Leonardo da Vinci 6 episodes
2013–15 Da Vinci's Demons Vlad the Impaler 4 episodes
2014 The Assets Aldrich Ames
2015 TURN George III 2 episodes
2015 Casanova Count of St. Germain Television film
2016 Victoria Sir John Conroy


Year Title Role Notes
1983 Bouncers Ralph Yorkshire Actors
1984 A Woman of No Importance Gerald Arbuthnot Glasgow Citizens Theatre
1985 La Vie parisienne Milord Glasgow Citizens Theatre
1986 The Orphan Polydore Greenwich Theatre
1986 The Merchant of Venice Lorenzo Royal Shakespeare Company
1986 Much Ado About Nothing Claudio Royal Shakespeare Company
1987 Ghetto Solomon Riverside Studios
1988 The Government Inspector Khlestakov Compass Theatre
1990 Bent Rudy Royal National Theatre
1994 Design for Living Leo Donmar Warehouse
1995–96 Long Day's Journey Into Night Edmund Young Vic
1997 King Lear Edgar Royal National Theatre; Nominated — Laurence Olivier Award
1997 The Invention of Love Houseman Royal National Theatre
1999–2000 Hamlet Hamlet Young Vic; Barclays Theatre Award
2004 Measure for Measure Angelo Royal National Theatre; Critics' Circle Theatre Award
2005 Paul Paul Royal National Theatre
2012 The Master and Margarita Woland/The Master Barbican Theatre
2016 Uncle Vanya Uncle Vanya Almeida Theatre


  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. Gibbons, Fiachra (8 November 1999). "Award victory for play denied West End run". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  4. BBC Press Office
  5. Guardian Reviews, The Deal, Channel 4, 16/9/2003
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