Welsh actor Rhys Ifans first broke the big screen with roles in Anthony Hopkins' directorial debut August (1996), Twin Town (1997) and Dancing at Lughnasa (1998) before reaching his widest audience to date while playing Spike, Hugh Grant's off-the-wall roommate, an eccentric Welsh wannabe artist in Roger Michell's popular romantic drama comedy Notting Hill (1999; starring Julia Roberts). Since then, he has starred in such films as Little Nicky (2000), Danny Deckchair (2003), Not Only But Always (2004; TV), Vanity Fair (2004), Enduring Love (2004) and Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (2006; voice). He will soon be seen starring in the upcoming films Hannibal Rising and The Restraint of Beasts.
On a more personal front, the 6' 2" tall, lanky, blue-eyed blond actor was romantically linked to publicist Jessica Morris (born in 1968).
Childhood and Family:
In Ruthin, Denbighshire, Wales, UK, Rhys Evans was born on July 22, 1968 to Eirwyn and Beti Evans. His first language is Welsh and he has adopted the Welsh spelling of his surname. Rhys’ brother, Llŷr Evans, is also an actor. They starred together in the Welsh produced film, Twin Town (1997).
Rhys attended Ysgol Maes Garmon, a Welsh language secondary school in Mold, Flintshire. He also went to youth acting schools at Theatr Clwyd, Mold. At age 18, he left Wales to study acting with Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, England, and later signed up with Eugene O'Neill Center's National Theatre Institute, Waterford, Connecticut.
Not Only But Always
Trained in both London and the United States, Rhys Ifans has performed in a number of English and Welsh language productions, including William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and "As You Like It." While performing at the Royal National Theatre, London and the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, he also appeared in many English and Welsh language television projects, including the TV series "Spatz" and "Nightshift."
In 1994, Ifans had a featured role in the West End production of Jonathan Harvey's "Beautiful Thing," playing Tony, the young, neo-hippie lover of an older woman whose teenaged son is coming of age. The next year, he starred as a married man who impregnated a single mother (played by Helen McCrory) in Streetlife, writer-director Karl Francis' dreary drama produced by BBC Wales screened at film festivals in London, Berlin and Vancouver. He was also featured in fellow Welshman Anthony Hopkins' directorial debut August (1996), a 19th-century Wales-set adaptation of Anton Chekhov's 1899 romantic drama comedy play "Uncle Vanya."
Ifans broke the big screen in Kevin Allen's dark comedy Twin Town (1997), in which he co-starred with real life brother Llyr Evans playing sociopath twin brothers. Afterward, he was cast as Gerry, the charming and completely unreliable father of an illegitimate son with Catherine McCormack’s character in Pat O'Connor's film adaptation of Brian Friel's Irish play, Dancing at Lughnasa (1998; also starring Meryl Streep and Michael Gambon), and played the title role’s co-worker in Clare Kilner's romantic drama comedy Janice Beard 45 wpm (1999; opposite Eileen Walsh and Patsy Kensit). He also starred as the cocky leader of bank robbers in writer-director Andy Hurst's sci-fi thriller You're Dead (1999), opposite John Hurt.
That same year, Ifans reached his largest audience to date with a memorable role as Spike, Hugh Grant's off-the-wall roommate, an eccentric Welsh wannabe artist, in Roger Michell's popular romantic drama comedy Notting Hill, starring Julia Roberts. He subsequently became busier, portraying an unpleasant writer who has affair with a woman whose husband had heart problems in Charles McDougall's unique psychological thriller Heart (1999; with Christopher Eccleston and Saskia Reeves) and playing a young businessman gets involved with the Russian mafia when his career, finances and marriage are in trouble in Edward Thomas' film version of James Hawes' darkly comic crime caper book, Rancid Aluminium (2000; with Joseph Fiennes, Tara Fitzgerald and Sadie Frost).
The new millennium also saw Ifans delivering a scene-stealing role as a Welsh star kicker and chain smoker in Howard Deutch's football comedy very loosely based on the 1987 NFL players' strike, The Replacements (starring Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman, Brooke Langton and Orlando Jones) and playing Adam Sandler's ruthless and cruel brother in Steven Brill's comedy movie Little Nicky. Additionally, he appeared as Jonny Lee Miller's rival gangster Matthew in writers-directors Dominic Anciano and Ray Burdis' mock mob film, Love, Honour and Obey (released in USA in 2001; also starring Sadie Frost and Jude Law).
Next, Ifans was cast as the British foreign news editor of a local newspaper in Lasse Hallström's disappointing adaptation of E. Annie Proulx's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Shipping News (starring Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore, Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett), and portrayed a feral man born and raised in the woods in Michel Gondry's Human Nature (both in 2001). The comedy film, loosely based on the Björk music video with the same name Gondry directed in 1993, was premiered at Cannes and released theatrically in USA in 2002. He was also cast as drug distributor Iki in Ronny Yu's drug comedy feature Formula 51 (with Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Carlyle and Emily Mortimer) and co-starred in Shane Meadows' drama comedy Once Upon a Time in the Midlands, as the man who proposes to his girlfriend (played by Shirley Henderson) on TV.
After a brief hiatus, Ifans returned to the big screen in 2004 with the title role of the Aussie cement truck driver who becomes a national sensation when he lifts off in his deck chair tied to balloons in Jeff Balsmeyer's true story-based romantic comedy Danny Deckchair (alongside Miranda Otto) and co-starring with Daniel Craig and Samantha Morton in Roger Michell's drama/romance/thriller film inspired by Ian McEwan's best-selling novel, Enduring Love. He also picked the role of Dobbin, the young godfather of Jonathan Rhys Meyers' George Osborne who gradually falls for the widowed Amelia (played by Romola Garai), in director Mira Nair's film adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray's novel, Vanity Fair, (starring Reese Witherspoon. His television work in the British TV movie Not Only But Always (2004), in which he starred as Peter Cook, the raffish, quick-witted young man who forms the “Beyond the Fringe” comedy troupe with Moore (played by Aidan McArdle), received critical praise and won him BAFTA’s Best Actor.
The following years saw Ifans in writer-director Martha Fiennes' drama-thriller Chromophobia (starring Penelope Cruz and Ralph Fiennes), Ángel de la Cruz and Manolo Gómez's computer-animated film El Sueno De Una Noche De San Juan (a.k.a. Midsummer Dream; loosely based on William Shakespeare's play) and writer-director Joe Penhall's 14-minute film, The Undertaker (he played the title role). He also starred in writer-director Francesca Joseph's comic drama set on a Mediterranean island, Four Last Songs (opposite Stanley Tucci) and provided his voice for McBunny in Tim Hill's live-action feature film Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, sequel to the 2004's Garfield: The Movie.
Ifans just completed his latest film, Hannibal Rising, Peter Webber's adaptation of Thomas Harris' 2006 novel of the same name in which he portrayed Vladis Grutas. He will soon wrap Pawel Pawlikowski's film version of Magnus Mills' tragi-comic novel, The Restraint of Beasts.
Besides acting, Ifans is also a talented singer. He was the original lead singer for the band Super Furry Animals, but leaving before the band became well known in the late 1990s. He has appeared in several rock promos, including "God Show Me Magic" by the Super Furry Animals (1996), "Mulder and Scully" by Catatonia (1998), "Mama Told Me Not To Come" by Tom Jones and the Stereophonics (2000) and "The Importance of Being Idle" by Oasis (2005).
Outside of his film work, Ifans previously served as the lead singer of the band Super Furry Animals before they struck the big time in the late 1990s.