Ving Rhames
Rhames in 2010
Irving Rameses Rhames

(1959-05-12) May 12, 1959 (age 65)
EducationState University of New York, Purchase
Juilliard School (BFA)
  • Actor
  • voice actor
Years active1984–present
  • Valerie Scott
    (m. 1994; div. 1999)
  • Deborah Reed
    (m. 2000)

Irving Rameses Rhames (/ˈrmz/; born May 12, 1959) is an American actor. He played IMF Agent Luther Stickell in all Mission: Impossible films (1996–present) and gang kingpin Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction (1994).

Early life and education

Rhames was born and raised in Harlem, New York City.[1] He was named "Irving" after NBC journalist Irving R. Levine.[2]

Rhames entered New York's High School of Performing Arts, where he developed his love of acting. After high school, he studied drama at SUNY Purchase, where fellow acting student Stanley Tucci gave him his nickname "Ving". Rhames later transferred to the Juilliard School's Drama Division (Group 12: 1979–1983)[3] where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1983.[4]


Rhames first appeared on Broadway in the play The Boys of Winter in 1984. He started out in film in Wes Craven's The People Under the Stairs (1991) as Leroy, watched over Kevin Kline as Secret Service agent Duane Stevensen in Dave (1993), and played Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction (1994). He also played Buddy Bragg in Out of Sight (1998).

Rhames played Dr. Peter Benton's brother-in-law on the TV medical drama ER, a recurring role he filled for three seasons. He played ace computer hacker Luther Stickell opposite Tom Cruise in Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible (1996). In 1997, Rhames portrayed the character of Nathan 'Diamond Dog' Jones in the popular film Con Air, and Muki in the Ice Cube film Dangerous Ground.

Rhames won a Golden Globe in 1998 for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film in HBO's Don King: Only in America. At the ceremony he gave his award to fellow nominee Jack Lemmon, saying, "I feel that being an artist is about giving, and I'd like to give this to you." Lemmon was clearly touched by the gesture as was the celebrity audience who gave Lemmon a standing ovation. Lemmon, who tried unsuccessfully to give the award back to Rhames, said it was "one of the nicest, sweetest moments I've ever known in my life." The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced later that they would have a duplicate award prepared for Rhames. That moment was #98 on E!'s 101 Awesome Moments in Entertainment.[5][6][7] The New York Times lauded Rhames for the act, writing that in doing so he "demonstrated his capacity for abundant generosity."[7]

Rhames appeared in Striptease (1996) as the wisecracking bodyguard Shad, Jesus-praising paramedic Marcus in Bringing Out the Dead (1999), and reprised his Luther Stickell role for Mission: Impossible 2 (2000). He played Johnnie Cochran in American Tragedy (2000), the ex-con boyfriend of Jodie's mother in the John Singleton film Baby Boy, portrayed a gay drag queen in the television film Holiday Heart, contributed his voice for the character of Cobra Bubbles in Lilo & Stitch (2002) and the subsequent TV series, and played a stoic cop fighting zombie hordes in Dawn of the Dead (2004) and Day of the Dead (2008) remakes. Rhames has also appeared in a series of television commercials for RadioShack, usually performing with Vanessa L. Williams.

In March 2005, Rhames played the lead role on a new Kojak series, on the USA Network cable channel (and on ITV4 in the UK). The bald head, lollipops, and "Who loves ya, baby?" catchphrase remained intact, but little else remained from the Telly Savalas-starring original.

Rhames voiced the part of Tobias Jones in the computer game Driver 3.

Reprising his Luther Stickell role, Rhames co-starred in Mission: Impossible III (2006), had a cameo appearance in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011), and played a major role in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015) and Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018), the fifth and sixth installments in the Mission Impossible film series, respectively.[8] He is the only actor besides Tom Cruise to appear in all seven Mission: Impossible films. It was announced that he would have a role in the Aquaman-based show Mercy Reef; however, due to the integration of The WB and UPN for the new network, CW, Mercy Reef was not picked up. Rhames played a homosexual – and possibly also homicidal – firefighter who comes out of the closet in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. He narrates the BET television series American Gangster.

In the 2008 film Saving God, he played an ex-con who is released from prison a changed man, looking to take over his father's former church congregation in a deteriorating neighborhood. Rhames stars in Phantom Punch, a biopic of boxer Sonny Liston, released directly to DVD, as well as The Tournament, portraying a fighter out to win a no-rules tournament.

Rhames makes an appearance in Ludacris's song "Southern Gangstas" on his album Theater of the Mind. Rappers Playaz Circle and Rick Ross are also featured on the track.

He filmed the film The Red Canvas with Ernie Reyes Jr., UFC lightweight contender Gray Maynard, and Randy Couture. In 2010, he filed a lawsuit against the film's producer,[9] claiming that he had only been paid $175,000 of a $200,000 contract.

In 2015, he filmed a series of commercials for The ADT Corporation.

Rhames is one of the narrators for UFC.

Rhames narrated the team introductions for the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI in February 2017.

Since 2014, Rhames has provided the narration for numerous Arby's commercials, with the slogan "Arby's: We have the meats!"[10]

Personal life

Rhames is a Christian.[11][12] As of 2018, he resides in Santa Monica, California. He has been married to Deborah Reed since 2000.[13]


Denotes works that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Notes
1986 Native Son Jack
1988 Patty Hearst Cinque Mtume
1989 Casualties of War Lieutenant Reilly
1990 The Long Walk Home Herbert Cotter
Jacob's Ladder George
1991 Flight of the Intruder Chief Petty Officer Frank McRae
Homicide Robert Randolph
The People Under the Stairs Leroy
1992 Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot "Mr. Stereo"
1993 Blood In Blood Out Ivan
Dave Duane Stevenson
The Saint of Fort Washington Leroy "Little Leroy"
1994 Pulp Fiction Marsellus Wallace
Drop Squad Garvey
1995 Kiss of Death FBI Agent Omar
1996 Mission: Impossible Luther Stickell
Striptease "Shad"
1997 Dangerous Ground Muki
Rosewood Mann
Con Air Nathan "Diamond Dog" Jones
1998 Body Count Pike
Out of Sight Buddy Bragg
1999 Entrapment FBI Agent Aaron Thibadeaux
Bringing Out the Dead Marcus
2000 Mission: Impossible 2 Luther Stickell
2001 Baby Boy Melvin
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within Ryan Whittaker
2002 Undisputed George "The Iceman" Chambers
Lilo & Stitch Cobra Bubbles Voice
Dark Blue Deputy Chief Arthur Holland
2003 Stitch! The Movie Cobra Bubbles Voice, direct-to-video
Sin Eddie Burns
2004 Dawn of the Dead Sergeant Kenneth Hall
2005 Back in the Day Joe "J-Bone" Brown
Animal James "Animal" Allen Video
Shooting Gallery Carl "Cue Ball Carl" Bridgers Video
2006 Mission: Impossible III Luther Stickell
Leroy & Stitch Cobra Bubbles Voice, direct-to-video
Idlewild "Spats"
2007 Ascension Day Hark Video
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry Fred G. Duncan
A Broken Life Vet
2008 Animal 2 James "Animal" Allen
Day of the Dead Captain Kenneth Rhodes Video
Phantom Punch Sonny Liston
Saving God Armstrong Cane
2009 Echelon Conspiracy FBI Agent Dave Grant
Give 'Em Hell, Malone "Boulder"
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard "Jibby" Newsome
The Bridge to Nowhere Nate
The Tournament Joshua Harlow
Surrogates The Prophet
Evil Angel Detective Carruthers
2010 Master Harold...and the Boys Sam
Love Chronicles: Secrets Revealed Mike Video
Operation: Endgame "Judgement"
Piranha 3D Deputy Fallon
King of the Avenue Norman De'Sha
The Wrath of Cain Miles "Cain" Skinner
Red Canvas Himself
Death Race 2 R. H. Weyland Video
2011 The River Murders Captain Art Langley
Pimp Bullies Miguel
Julia X The Man
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Luther Stickell Uncredited cameo
2012 Seven Below Jack
Piranha 3DD Deputy Fallon
Soldiers of Fortune Grimaud "Grim Reaper" Tourneur
Art of Submission Gene
Won't Back Down Principal Thompson
Mafia Renzo Wes
Btd Ken Short
2013 Death Race 3: Inferno R. H. Weyland Video
Armed Response Officer Hall
Force of Execution "Ice Man" Video
2014 Jamesy Boy Conrad
2015 Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Luther Stickell
Operator Richard
2016 A Sunday Horse Mr. Valentine
2017 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Charlie-27
The Star Thaddeus (voice)
Father Figures Rod Hamilton
2018 Con Man "Peanut"
Mission: Impossible – Fallout Luther Stickell
2022 Wendell & Wild Buffalo Belzer (voice) [14]
2023 The Locksmith Frank
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Luther Stickell
2024 The Garfield Movie Otto (voice)
The Instigators Frank Toomey Post-production
The Wild Robot (voice) In production
2025 Untitled eighth Mission: Impossible film Luther Stickell Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1984 Go Tell It on the Mountain Young Gabriel Grimes Television film
1985 Miami Vice Georges Episode: "The Maze"
1986 Another World Czaja Carnek Regular cast
Crime Story Hector Lincoln Episode: "Abrams for the Defense"
1987 Miami Vice Walker Monroe Episode: "Child's Play"
Tour of Duty SP4 Tucker Episode: "Burn Baby, Burn"
1988 Spenser: For Hire Henry Brown Episode: "McAllister"
1989 Men Charlie Hazard Main cast
The Equalizer Luther Paxton Episode: "Suicide Squad"
1990 Rising Son Ed Television film
When You Remember Me Leon Television film
1991 ScreenPlay Sergeant Blue Episode: "Murder in Oakland"
Iran: Days of Crisis Charles Jones Television film
1992 Terror on Track 9 "Jellyroll" Television film
1994 Philly Heat DeWitt Wardlaw TV series
1994–1996 ER Walter Robbins Recurring cast (season 1–3)
1995 Ed McBain's 87th Precinct: Lightning Detective Artie Brown Television film
New York Undercover Max Villareal Episode: "Olde Thyme Religion"
Deadly Whispers Detective Jackson Television film
1997 Don King: Only in America Don King Television film
2000 American Tragedy Johnnie Cochran Television film
Holiday Heart "Holiday" Heart Television film
2001 UC: Undercover Quito Real Recurring cast
2002 Sins of the Father Garrick Jones Television film
Little John John Morgan Television film
RFK Judge Thomas R. Jones Television film
The Proud Family Garrett Krebs Voice, episode: "A Hero for Halloween"
2002–2003 The District Attorney General Troy Hatcher Recurring cast (season 3)
2003 Lilo & Stitch: The Series Cobra Bubbles[a] Voice, episode: "Spooky"
The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius Chief Voice, episode: "Operation: Rescue Jet Fusion"
The System Andre Charles Main cast
Freedom: A History of US Various Roles TV documentary series
2005 Kojak Lieutenant Theo Kojak Main cast
2006 Aquaman McCaffery Television film
2007 Football Wives Frank Wallingford Television film
2010 Gravity "Dogg" McFee Main cast
2011 Zombie Apocalypse Henry Everlen Television film
Black Jack Jack "Black Jack" Television film
2013 Monday Mornings Dr. Jorge Villanueva Main cast
2014 A Day Late and a Dollar Short Cecil Price Television film
2018 Cagney and Lacey Captain Stark Television film
2019 Voice Arts Awards Himself - Icon Award Television special
TBA Sinking Spring Bart Upcoming miniseries

Video games

Year Title Voice role Notes
2003 Mission: Impossible – Operation Surma IMF Agent Luther Stickell
2004 Driver 3 Tobias Jones [15]
2017 Call of Duty: WWII Jefferson Potts

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
1998 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor in Mini-Series or Motion Picture Don King: Only in America Won [16]
Primetime Emmy Awards Best Actor in Mini-Series or Movie Don King: Only in America Nominated
Acalpulco Black Film Festival Best Actor Rosewood Nominated
Image Awards Outstanding Actor in Motion Picture Rosewood Nominated
Outstanding Actor in Television or Mini-Series Don King: Only in America Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actor - Mini-Series or TV Film Don King: Only in America Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Best Actor - Mini-Series or TV Film Don King: Only in America Nominated
2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Best Supporting Actor - Action Entrapment Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actor - Comedy or Music Bringing Out the Dead Nominated
ShoWest Convention Best Supporting Actor Won [17]
2001 Black Reel Awards Best Actor - Network Holiday Heart Nominated
Image Awards Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture Mission: Impossible 2 Nominated
Locarno International Film Festival Special Mention Baby Boy Won
2002 Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actor Baby Boy Nominated
Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series UC: Undercover Nominated
Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Baby Boy Nominated
2003 Black Reel Awards Best Actor - Mini-Series Sins of the Father Nominated
Image Awards Best Supporting Actor - Comedy The Proud Family Nominated
Best Actor - Mini-Series or TV Film Sins of the Father Nominated
2004 Black Reel Awards Best Supporting Actor Dark Blue Nominated
2006 Black Reel Awards Best Actor - Television Kojak Nominated
2015 Black Reel Awards Best Actor - Television A Day Late and a Dollar Short Nominated
Image Awards Best Actor - Television Nominated


  1. ^ Experiment 300, also known as Spooky, disguised as Cobra Bubbles


  2. ^ Newsmakers – Newsweek Entertainment –
  3. ^ "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. April 2010. Archived from the original on November 11, 2011.
  4. ^ Brennan, Sandra (2007). "Ving Rhames". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 25, 2007. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
  5. ^ Richardson, Riché (2007). Black masculinity and the U.S. South: from Uncle Tom to gangsta. University of Georgia Press. ISBN 978-0-8203-2890-4. Archived from the original on May 13, 2023. Retrieved February 24, 2011.
  6. ^ Calvin, Marlene (2010). Diasporic Lives: Alienation and Violence as Themes in African American Jamaican Cultural Texts. LIT Verlag Münster. ISBN 978-3-643-10574-5. Archived from the original on May 8, 2023. Retrieved February 24, 2011.
  7. ^ a b Gerston, Jill (2013). "Ving Rhames – About This Person". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 26, 2013. Retrieved February 24, 2011.
  8. ^ "Ving Rhames Returns for Mission: Impossible 5". August 17, 2014. Archived from the original on August 19, 2014. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  9. ^ Ving Rhames to Producer: Do I Look Like a Bitch? Archived March 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on August 28, 2010.
  10. ^ Felix, Maria (June 26, 2021). "Who Is The Narrator For The Arby's Commercials?". Archived from the original on November 16, 2021. Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  11. ^ Howe, Desson (February 21, 1997). "Reel Action Hero". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on May 6, 1997. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  12. ^ Kimball, Josh (October 17, 2008). "Ving Rhames Stars in Newly Released Christian Film". The Christian Post. Archived from the original on May 26, 2022. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  13. ^ Nordine, Michael (July 28, 2018). "Ving Rhames Was Held at Gunpoint by Cops in His Own Home After a Neighbor Reported a 'Large Black Man' Breaking In". IndieWire. Archived from the original on May 5, 2022. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  14. ^ King, Jack (March 14, 2022). "'Wendell & Wild' Teaser Announces Ving Rhames, David Harewood, and More Joining Voice Cast". Collider. Archived from the original on October 6, 2022. Retrieved March 14, 2022.
  15. ^ "Ving Rhames (visual voices guide)". Behind The Voice Actors. Archived from the original on August 3, 2022. Retrieved September 28, 2021. A green check mark indicates that a role has been confirmed using a screenshot (or collage of screenshots) of a title's list of voice actors and their respective characters found in its opening and/or closing credits and/or other reliable sources of information.((cite web)): CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  16. ^ "1998 Golden Globes Award". Ropeofsilicon. Archived from the original on February 12, 2015. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  17. ^ Jones, Anderson (March 10, 2000). "ShoWest 2000 Signs Off". Archived from the original on February 11, 2015. Retrieved February 12, 2015.