John Rhys-Davies is proud of his work as a character actor in some of the biggest film franchises of all time. He has worked with some of the top directors and actors in Hollywood.
"You have a much longer career as a character actor," Rhys-Davies says.
That's because a character actor doesn't have to carry a film. Think of them like the seasoning in a recipe -- they provide a little zest.
The good ones, like Rhys-Davies, get used in a variety of ways. His roles range from Gimli in the "Lord of the Rings" movies to playing a museum curator in "Psych."
One of the most memorable characters he's ever played is Sallah in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." The British actor's booming voice and jovial manner add light moments to the big adventure movies.
If you haven't seen his work, "Raiders" starts a one-week run at IMAX theaters today and "Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures" will be released on Blu-ray Sept. 18.
Rhys-Davies thinks the films remain as popular today as when "Raiders" was released in 1981 because of the blend of exciting action and a talented cast and crew.
"We give them actually 55 bucks of entertainment for every five they spend," Rhys-Davies says. "Then we had George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford, who was determined after playing Han Solo to become the most iconic action film star of all time.
"It was amazing watching him manipulating and developing the character to the point all you have to see is his silhouette and you know who it is. My respect for Harrison has grown over the years as I've watched him grow into the definitive film star of his generation."
He also marveled how Spielberg, who was 35 when he directed "Raiders of the Lost Ark," guided the project with a creative wisdom far beyond his years. Rhys-Davies compares Spielberg to a young Mozart because he had such a clear picture how every detail of the movie -- including how he wanted a scene played -- would come together for the perfect cinematic composition.
Even with such a clear vision, Rhys-Davies found that if you had a solid idea for how you wanted to play a scene, Spielberg was willing to listen.
Rhys-Davies had creative freedom in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" because his character was just being formed. He knew how to bring Sallah to life once he realized his main job in the film was to "make the hero look good."
There was less chance to work on the character when he returned for "Last Crusade" since the movie's focus had shifted from adventure to a father-son tale with the addition of Sean Connery.
It's been decades since the movies were released, but Spielberg's work hasn't stopped. He supervised digitally remastering of the films for both the IMAX and Blu-ray offerings.
Rhys-Davies says no actor can predict how well a movie will do. All they can do is be ready for when it happens as it did with the Indiana Jones movies.
"Lightning is a beautiful thing, but it doesn't hit in consistent spots. I've been lucky," says Rhys-Davies, who pauses and then adds, "Also, not to sound like I'm bragging, but I'm a pretty damn good character actor."
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, email@example.com
or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.