Rhys Ifans

Active - 1995 - 2021  |   Born - Jul 22, 1968 in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Comedy Drama, Children's/Family, Romance

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Biography by Rebecca Flint Marx

Welsh actor Rhys Ifans has not only one of the most distinctive names in the film industry but also one of its most idiosyncratic appearances. Tall, lanky, and snaggletoothed, Ifans can go from raving freak to persuasive romantic interest in less time than it takes to pronounce his name correctly.

Ifans got his start acting in a number of Welsh language dramas and comedies, and he made his feature film debut in Anthony Hopkins' August (1996). The following year, he was part of one of the most successful films in Great Britain in 1997 when he starred in Twin Town. As one half of a set of twins (the other was portrayed by his real-life brother, Llyr Evans), he played what was undoubtedly one of the most riveting and revolting characters to come into contact with film audiences in years. The film's success opened the way for more work, and the following year he did a complete about-face, appearing as the charmingly errant father of Catherine McCormack's young son in Dancing at Lughnasa.

The year after that, Ifans rejected grooming and general communication skills to play the role that was to give him international recognition, starring as Hugh Grant's hygienically challenged roommate in the romantic comedy Notting Hill. Many a critic agreed that Ifans virtually stole the show from his better-known co-stars, and that same year he had a chance to prove himself further in such diverse features as Heart, a black comedy in which he played a writer; and Rancid Aluminum, in which he starred as a man forced into business with the Russian mob after his father's death. Following an unlikely appearance as a football player in The Replacements (2000) and a turn as the son of Old Scratch in Little Nicky (2000), Ifans' role as a socially challenged forest dweller turned opera-loving socialite in the eccentric Human Nature provided audiences with abundant laughs and a further glimpse into the quirkiness of a truly unique actor.

Of course the ever-eccentric Ifans was only warming up, and after supporting roles in such efforts as The 51st State, The Shipping News and Once Upon a Time in the Midlands Ifans once again took the lead in the 2003 comedy Donnie Deckchair. Cast as a man whose desperate attempt to escape the monotony of suburban life includes a bundle of large helium balloons and a lightweight deck chair, Ifans charmed Australian audiences in the family-friendly effort.

Outside of his film work, Ifans briefly served as lead singer of the band Super Furry Animals before they struck the big time in the late 1990s.

In 2006 he voiced McBunny in Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, but had major roles the next year in two very different projects -- Hannibal Rising and Elizabeth: The Golden Age. He appeared in 2009's Pirate Radio, reteaming with Notting Hill screenwriter Richard Curtis. Ifans had a strong supporting turn in Greenberg in 2010, and was center stage in Roland Emmerich's Shakespearean drama Anonymous in 2011. The next year he was part of the cast of the Spider-Man reboot, and was the romantic rival to Jason Segel in the comedy The Five-Year Engagement.

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  • Attended the O'Neill National Theater Institute in Waterford, CT.
  • Was briefly the lead singer for the Welsh rock group Super Furry Animals before the band changed directions and hit it big.
  • Gained attention in the theater world for his role in the 1994 West End production of Beautiful Thing.
  • Made his feature-film debut in the Anthony Hopkins-directed August in 1996.
  • Had an international breakthrough with his role as Hugh Grant's hygienically-challenged roommate in 1999's Notting Hill.
  • Won a BAFTA in 2005 for his role in the TV movie Not Only But Always.
  • Began singing with the psychedelic band the Peth (Welsh for "Thing") in 2007.