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John Rhys-Davies joins movie filming in Buffalo

He’s been everywhere from Middle-earth to space.

Add Buffalo to that list.

Actor John Rhys-Davies, the star of such megahits as “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” is starring in “Prick’d," an independent movie currently filming in the area.

In “Prick’d,” Rhys-Davies plays the Greek god Cupid who has grown frustrated with helping humans find love, only to have them break up. Now, he’s willing to go to any lengths to make it work.

“He’s a tremendous actor and perfect for the role of an old disgruntled cupid with a charming English accent,” said producer Larry Jay Tish, adding that the film has been called a mix of "Pulp Fiction" meets “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

The movie has been quietly filming in Buffalo and Niagara Falls since mid-November. It was originally set to start shooting in October, but delays – ubiquitous in the film industry – pushed the start date to mid-November. Those production delays worked in the film’s favor with the casting of Rhys-Davies, which means “everything” to the filmmakers.

“From a business perspective, it’s super important. From an artistic perspective, it’s super amazing,” Tish said. “An actor of his caliber raises the bar of the film and gives everyone the experience of working with him.”

Rhys-Davies is here for about 13 days of rehearsals and filming. The Welsh actor’s distinguished career has a lengthy resume of work in film ("The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement," "Victor, Victoria"), television ("Sliders," "The Untouchables"), voiceovers, audiobooks and video games.

John Rhys-Davies is unrecognizable as Gimli in the Oscar-winning film "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." (Pierre Vinet/New Line Productions)

“Prick’d” is based on an original story by Neal Howard (Tish’s cousin) and Ira Fritz. The screenplay is by Howard, Fritz and Anthony Piatek. It is co-directed by Howard and Diane Cossa, a director and actress who had a recurring role on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" in addition to other TV work.

Howard, a Hollywood-based screenwriter, asked Tish about collaborating on a film based off of one of his screenplays. Tish, who had fallen for Buffalo when he was presenting "The Black-Jew Dialogues" as part of a Dialogues on Diversity national program about three years ago, suggested changing the location from Chicago to Buffalo.

“I’m so in love with Buffalo,” said the Brooklyn-born Tish, who has made Massachusetts his home for more than 30 years. “The best people in the world are New Yorkers. The people in Buffalo are friendly, open and give it to you straight, like New Yorkers.”

Other benefits for shooting locally: the backdrop of Niagara Falls – the honeymoon capital of the world – and a talented local crew.

“Local people don’t necessarily get to shine in larger productions the way they can with an independent film. We got local crew working from an assistant director to gaffer to key grip. They’re all working together. It’s very joyful,” Tish said.

“Prick’d” also stars Shane Nepveu (“Boardwalk Empire,” “Red Oaks”) and Briana Marin, along with multiple Buffalo actors.

Locations have included Seneca Niagara Casino, Sweetness_7, Gypsy Parlor, exteriors at Left Bank and Remedy House and at ND_ Studios.

“We had a wonderful time at the Polish Cadets,” which is being used for a wedding scene, Tish said.

“Prick’d” comes on the heels of the big-budget Paramount film “A Quiet Place 2” which filmed locally over the summer with director John Krasinski and actors including Emily Blunt and Cillian Murphy. In early 2020, Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro is expected to be here for a few days to shoot "Nightmare Alley."

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