If you remember the 1999 Roger Michell directed romantic dramedy “Notting Hill,” you might recall Welsh actor Rhys Ifans playing Spike. Even though Spike is not the principal character, he is the one many people remember. It’s possible people remember him because of his underwear.
Ifans was born in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK on Saturday, 22 July 1967. The then future actor, the son of teachers Eirwyn Evans and Beti Wyn (Davies), grew up in a bilingual household. Speaking both English and Welsh, Ifans found performing in either language came naturally to him.
Ifans ability to take on a diverse range of roles is widely recognised throughout the entertainment community. Ifans brings to his performance a depth of character rarely seen.
The Plays the Thing…
Like his “Berlin Station” co-star Richard Armitage, Ifans has spent a considerable amount of time treading the boards as a thespian. While many American actors begin their careers with film and or television, the same cannot be said of entertainment professionals across the pond. Most actors in the British Isles are thespians first. It is not until after they establish themselves on stage that they begin to think about venturing into film and television. For British actors, the play is absolutely the thing.
The Conscience of the King…
Early in his theatrical career, Ifans appeared at the Theatre Clwyd, the Regent’s Park Theatre and at the Royal National Theatre. At the Theatre Clwyd, Ifans played the title role in a performance of ‘Hamlet.’ The mental instability of the young Hamlet is not something all thespians can accomplish. Consequently, because of how complex the character is, many thespians find it takes more than bold strokes to make their performance believable. Was Ifans performance believable? Unquestionably.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream and other Plays…
Further to ‘Hamlet,’ the Welsh thespian is also known to have appeared on stage the Regent’s Park Theatre in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” As for “Under Milk Wood” and “Volpone,” these plays were staged at the Royal National Theatre.
Do you recall the Dario Fo written “Accidental Death of an Anarchist”? It is not a play everyone is familiar with. In 2003, at the Donmar Warehouse, Ifans appeared in a staged production of “Accidental Death of an Anarchist.”
To Play the Fool…
After appearing in “Don Juan in Soho,” Ifans did not return to the boards until 2016. In 2016, Ifans played the Fool in Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” To a certain extent, the Fool function is comparable to that of a Chorus in a Greek tragedy. The character is both funny and sad, but always compelling. Consequently, there is something endearing about this particular Shakespeare character.
When the title character banishes his youngest daughter from the kingdom, the Fool becomes Lear’s protector. The Fool is more than the king’s advocate. He is loyal and honest to a fault. As a result, he meets the same fate as his master.
Film, Television and Digital Media
During the actor’s television career, Ifans has appeared in many Welsh-language television programmes before contemplating a film career. He narrated the children’s animated series “Sali Mali” for S4C in 2000.
If you are a “Harry Potter” fan, you might remember Ifans as Xenophilius Lovegood. This character appears in the 2010 David Yates directed adventure fantasy “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.”
A year later, the Welsh actor appeared as the Earl of Oxford in the 2011 Roland Emmerich directed thriller “Anonymous.” While Ifans’ performance is exceptional, I suspect the Welsh actor would have been better suited playing Shakespeare.
Under Milk Wood…
In what is arguably the quintessential adaptation of Dylan Thomas’ “Under Milk Wood,” Ifans played Captain Cat perfectly. Captain Cat is the old blind sea captain of Thomas’ classic play. He dreams of his deceased shipmates and the lost love of his life, Rosie Probert. Acting as the narrator for much of the play, Captain Cat is one of the play’s most significant characters. From the vantage point of his window, the captain sees all and comments on it whenever his fancy deems it appropriate.
More recently, the actor has been seen in the Olen Steinhauer created Epix original thriller “Berlin Station.” Which plays, films and or television productions do you remember Ifans appearing in? Which one is your favourite?
Not a Social Media Addict
Not everyone’s life revolves entirely around their social media accounts. Ifans does not have the time nor the inclination to use social media in the same way as other actors. Consequently, the Welsh actor’s Twitter account is frequently inactive.
— Everton (@Everton) December 8, 2013
Ifans’ Twitter account became active in December 2013. On 8 Dec. 2013, the actor retweeted a tweet originally tweeted by Liverpool’s Everton Football Club. This tweet is the only one the actor as on his account.
For a comprehensive list of entertainment professionals born on this day, click “22 July.”