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The Iconic Role That Left John Rhys-Davies Physically Ill

Looking back, it's incredible to consider just how iconic the cast of Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings” trilogy has become. These days, it's nearly impossible to imagine anyone else stepping into those roles: Elijah Wood is Frodo Baggi​​ns, Viggo Mortensen is Aragorn, and John Rhys-Davies is Gimli. Rhys-Davies gives an all-time great performance in all three films as the lovable, battle ax-wielding dwarf with a penchant for violence and a rivalry with the elven archer Legolas (Orlando Bloom) — and he manages to steal the spotlight every time he's on-screen.

Gimli's mix of raucous humor and battle-lust gives the character a more prominent personality than nearly anyone else in the movies — and it's through Rhys-Davies' performance alone that he rises above the role of comic relief and becomes a hero in his own right. Gimli is far and away the most iconic role that Rhys-Davies has ever had — which is why it may shock some fans to learn just how miserable he was getting into makeup each day they were shooting.

Rhys-Davies was miserable in his makeup for "The Lord of the Rings"

Like many of his co-stars in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Rhys-Davies had to undergo several hours of makeup and prosthetic work before filming each day. While the facial prosthetics managed to fully transform Rhys-Davies into the iconic dwarf, every transformation came at a cost. As it happens, Rhys-Davies was seriously allergic to them, and it eventually got so bad that the crew started using his stunt double for most major action scenes because he simply couldn't stand to be in them any longer (via IndieWire).

In a 2009 interview with Empire, Rhys-Davies confirmed that the prosthetics were the main reason he didn't reprise his role for the "Hobbit" trilogy, saying, "I have already completely ruled it out. There's a sentimental part of me that would love to be involved again. Really I am not sure my face can take that sort of punishment any more [sic]." That kind of response makes it abundantly clear just how bad those allergic reactions actually were, and it's important to look back on his scenes in "The Lord of the Rings" and consider just how much pain he was in while they were shooting.