Ifans was born Rhys Evans in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales to Beti-Wyn, a nursery school teacher, and Eurwyn Evans, a primary school teacher. He has adopted the Welsh spelling of his surname. Ifans grew up in Ruthin, in North Wales, and attended Ysgol Maes Garmon, a Welsh language secondary school in Mold, Flintshire, where he sat his O levels and A levels. He also attended youth acting schools at Theatr Clwyd, Mold. His first language is Welsh and he says that he began using the Welsh spelling of his surname, "just to be difficult". His brother, Llŷr Evans, is also an actor. They starred together in the Welsh produced film, Twin Town. Rhys was romantically linked to British actress, Sienna Miller , and has a swallow tattoo on his left wrist to match hers. In June 2008 it was reported that Miller ended the relationship with Ifans.
Ifans appeared in many Welsh language television programmes before embarking on his film career, as well as performing at the Royal National Theatre, London and the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.
He was briefly lead vocalist of the rock band Super Furry Animals before they found national success.
His film roles include: Eyeball Paul in Kevin and Perry Go Large (2000), Nigel in The Replacements (2000), Iki in The 51st State (2001), William Dobbin in Vanity Fair (2004) and Vladis Grutas in Hannibal Rising (film) (2007). He also played Jed Parry in the film version of Ian McEwan's Enduring Love (film) and the lead role in Danny Deckchair (2003) as Danny Morgan.
In 2005, Ifans picked up a BAFTA for his critically acclaimed portrayal of comedian Peter Cook in the TV film Not Only But Always. Later that year he made a guest appearance for the rock band Oasis in the video for their single "The Importance of Being Idle" for which he accepted their award for Video Of the Year at the 2005/2006 NME Awards. This was not Ifans' first foray into the world of music videos: he has also made appearances in the music videos for "God! Show Me Magic", and "Hometown unicorn" by the Super Furry Animals, "Mulder & Scully" by Catatonia, and "Mama Told Me Not To Come" by Tom Jones and the Stereophonics.
He gained further international exposure as "Adrian", the pompous, arrogant, eldest brother from Little Nicky, as well as his "breakout" role as Spike in British film Notting Hill (1999). According to the DVD's commentary, for the latter role, Ifans did not wash or brush his teeth, in preparation for the role.
In December 2006, he returned to the London stage for the first time since 2003 in Michael Grandage's production 'Don Juan In Soho' at the Donmar Warehouse (run ended 10th February 2007). He had appeared previously at the Donmar in 2003's 'Accidental Death Of An Anarchist'. Earlier stage work includes 'Hamlet' at Theatre Clwyd, 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' at the Regent's Park Theatre and 'Under Milk Wood' and 'Volpone' at the Royal National Theatre.
On 16th July 2007, he received an Honorary Fellowship from Bangor University in North Wales, for services to the film industry. In 2002 he gained some controversy in the British media for his alleged support of Welsh nationalist group Meibion Glyndwr, a militant group who support violence against English home owners in the Welsh heartlands. This was due mainly to some comments he made in an interview conducted by Mariella Frostrup for The Observer newspaper.
Ifans gained further controversy in March 2007 when he cracked a joke at an anti-slavery benefit concert which many audience members found distasteful. The controversy came when Ifans told the crowd: "Why is paedophilia so popular? Because kids are so fucking sexy."
Since 2007, Ifans has sung with Welsh psychedelic rock band The Peth (Peth is Welsh for `Thing') which features Super Furry Animals' Dafydd Ieuan. In July 2008 a number of concert dates were announced both in South Wales and in London.
The Peth play their first date outside of London or Wales on Sunday 28th September at Southampton Soul Cellar.
|1997||Twin Town||Jeremy Lewis|
|1998||Dancing at Lughnasa||Gerry Evans|
|Notting Hill||Spike||Nominated - BAFTA Award|
|2000||Rancid Aluminium||Pete Thompson|
|Love, Honour and Obey||Matthew|
|Kevin And Perry Go Large||Eyeball Paul|
|The Replacements||Nigel Gruff|
|Christmas Carol: The Movie||Bob Cratchit||voice|
|The Shipping News||Beaufield Nutbeem|
|The 51st State||Iki|
|2002||Once Upon a Time in the Midlands||Dek|
|2003||Danny Deckchair||Danny Morgan|
|2004||Vanity Fair||William Dobbin|
|2005||El Sueño de una noche de San Juan||Lysander||voice: English version|
|2006||Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties||McBunny||voice|
|2007||Four Last Songs||Dickie|
|Elizabeth: The Golden Age||Robert Reston|
|2008||The Informers||Roger||awaiting release|
|The Restraint of Beasts||TBA||post-production|
|The Boat That Rocked||Gavin||post-production|