John Rhys-Davies Starring in TV Movie Adaptation of Leo Tolstoy Story (Exclusive)

John Rhys-Davies - Getty - H 2016
Getty Images

John Rhys-Davies - Getty - H 2016

John Rhys-Davies has been cast as the lead in Winter Thaw, a holiday TV movie based on Leo Tolstoy's Martin the Cobbler.

The telefilm is set to air Thanksgiving on Brigham Young University's Provo, Utah-based BYUtv, a commercial-free network available in 55 million households on Dish Network, DirecTV and cable systems.

The movie, produced by Kaleidoscope Pictures in partnership with Baltic Film Services, was adapted from Tolstoy's short story (also commonly known as Where Love Is, God Is) by author Joseph Clay (Demons of the Jungle) and directed by Adam Thomas Anderegg (Touched by an Angel). Kaleidoscope's Russ Kendall (The Song the Changed My Life) is producing, with Travis Cline (Napoleon Dynamite) serving as director of photography.

"Over the past five years, BYUtv has invested in creating enlightening films and docudramas that bring to life the most meaningful historical eras and figures, such as the story behind the creation of Handel's Messiah, the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the first English translation of the King James Bible and a depiction of Joan of Arc's experience through her own words," said Derek Marquis, managing director of BYUtv. "These seasonal specials embody our vision of 'seeing the good in world' through world-class production, writers and actors and resonate with audiences of all ages around the world. We are very pleased to bring Leo Tolstoy's short story Where Love Is, God Is to life this fall through one of the great actors of our time, John Rhys-Davies."

Rhys-Davies, best known for his work as Indiana Jones' (Harrison Ford) comic sidekick Sallah, has appeared on more than 100 television shows and in films since the early 1970s. Other credits include playing the role of Gimli the dwarf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and, more recently, co-starring in History Channel's Killing Jesus and appearing on ABC's Once Upon a Time.

BYUtv's original programming slate also includes drama series Granite Flats, which featured Christopher Lloyd, Parker Posey, Cary Elwes and George Newbern; long-running sketch comedy series Studio C; and Relative Race, billed as the first family-history-based competitive reality show that follows four couples as they meet relatives linked by DNA for the first time in a race across the States.