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The Independent Critic

 A Continued Conversation with John Rhys-Davies 
John Rhys-Davies leads the cast of "Winter Thaw."

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

There's one thing I've always wanted to ask a British actor; lucky you. You get the question. I've always wondered... it seems like among British actors that there's more of a devotion to the full spectrum of acting...the stage work, the independent films, short films...everything, really. I mean, here in the U.S., it seems like a good majority of actors once they've achieved a certain level of success practically scoff at the idea of doing such things as short films or indie films. There are exceptions, of course, but it seems actually quite common for British actors. 

JOHN RHYS-DAVIES

One can only hope that they will understand that we are not too precious in our lives. I was so delighted last year. I did a little bit of narration for the Nova Scotia Symphony Orchestra, then a month later I did a bit of narration for Metal Acapella, a German heavy metal group. That you should even be asked to do these things makes you go "Oh, I have no idea how I'm going to do this...but, yes, of course!" It's just exploring and just challenging yourself alone is how you keep fresh. Every day is a problem. Every day needs solutions to be found. Sometimes, you can look into your own repertoire and say "Ah yeah. Let's just modify that and that will solve that problem." Sometimes, you think "I have no idea how to do this. Let's try it that way. No? Let's try it that way. Why don't you just listen to the other actor? Ah...that works easily." I love problems. When you work with producers like this, you've got bucketfuls of them. 

This has been an absolute joy. 

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I truly appreciate your time. You've been far more gracious and generous than I expected...wait a minute. That sounded bad. I meant in terms of time, of course. I expected the other gracious. 

JOHN RHYS-DAVIES

I'm so important. You are so lucky to know me (Laughing). 

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

If I could, I would bow but I don't do that well in a wheelchair.

JOHN RHYS-DAVIES

Well, there you are.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Of course, I say that right as I drop my keys and have to bow. 

JOHN RHYS-DAVIES

Be gentle with us. So, how long have you been a reviewer?

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Let's see...I've had The Independent Critic, which I own, for about ten years I suppose. I've written before that for various print and web outlets. I focus on independents and short films. 

JOHN RHYS-DAVIES

So you get to see a lot of them?

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I do. I think I'm probably reaching that point where film festivals are contacting me...not just local ones but, for example, after Heartland I'll be covering one in Seattle. They know I do shorts, which is kind of rare among media outlets. It's kind of nice for this guy from Indiana who still works for the government. 

JOHN RHYS-DAVIES

You work for the government?

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I do. I work for the State of Indiana. So, the Governor Pence administration. 

JOHN RHYS-DAVIES

He might very well end up being President one of these days. 

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

He could. I do believe he has presidential aspirations. Actually, he's a very nice guy. I don't regularly interact with him in my position but I have on several occasions. 

JOHN RHYS-DAVIES

He comes across as both being nice and having a mind. We've got to start thinking out of the box. When Brexit happened, I have to tell you that for the first time in about 43 years I felt that Britain might just have a future still. I do not see how they're going to avoid civil war in Europe. The aging indigenous population and the new culture coming in...there are already people, new migrants in Europe, who are saying "You don't like it? YOU leave." We're here. Keeping the Germans sane is a major effort. They've made a magnificent effort in trying to be sane. I think the policies of Merkel are just going to wrack that society so substantially...just the male/female imbalance alone. When you have more young men in society than there are women, societies tend to be more aggressive and violent. Only 13% of the migrants are women. It's hard to see the wrong turns. No one puts the bits together. I think if I was going to characterize myself, I'd say that I'm an old silverback watching as the little tribe grazes and looking around to see where the ambushes could come from. I see more ambushes potentially than there've been at any time in my life. 

That's completely irrelevant. Love the film. 

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Let's end with that. Why should people see the film?

JOHN RHYS-DAVIES

It's simple. It's Tolstoy. It speaks to and from and of the human condition. 

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Absolutely perfect. You rock. Thank you so much for your time. I wish you the best with your film. 

Winter Thaw is currently screening at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis. The film is scheduled to screen on Thanksgiving night on BYUtv, a cable channel currently available throughout the country. For more information, visit the BYUtv website. 

© Interview by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic

 

    The 50/50 x 2020 Pledge

    The Independent Critic is proud to support Indy-based Heartland Film by committing to the 50/50 x 2020 Pledge - By the end of the year 2020, The Independent Critic will achieve gender parity in its reviews of both shorts and feature films. Furthermore, The Independent Critic also pledges support for the Ruderman Family Foundation's call for authentic representation of people with disabilities in film and actively commits to leverage its journalistic influence to effect genuine change in the film industry by calling for and actively promoting authentic and inclusive casting and hiring of people with disabilities.

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