From causing chaos as Griphook in the magical world of Harry Potter to ambushing Stormtroopers in a galaxy far far away as the whimsical warrior Wicket, Warwick Davis has brought to life some of our most beloved screen characters of all time in a career spanning over 30 years and counting. Perhaps most associated with his portrayal of the heroic Willow, the unlikely protagonist who captured the hearts of an entire generation. Proving that ‘size matters not‘, Warwick Davis is a force to be reckoned with. A role model, a nostalgic gem and all round nice guy.
Warwick was kind enough to take the time out of his exhausting schedule to speak directly to Liam Swann from MCM BUZZ before he visits Manchester MCM Expo on 30th July 2011 as a special guest.
Liam Swann: Hey Warwick, I’m sure every fan and follower knows the famous story of your launch into acting, but where do you think you would be right now, if your grandma hadn’t responded to the Star Wars casting call in 1981? Do you think you would have still followed a path into acting?
Warwick Davis: Well, my father was an insurance man so I guess I might have followed in his footsteps. Although I was interested in computers and graphic design, I think either way it would have been something artistic! And also when I was a kid, before Star Wars I was always outgoing and extrovert, always the entertainer of the family! Because… I was 3 feet tall, it was the only way to get noticed, it did lend itself to acting.
LS: As a father, would you encourage your children to act? Or has either of the two sparked any interest? I assume seeing their dad casting spells and exploring Narnia on the big screen is pretty spectacular?
WD: They don’t really appear to be that excited about what I do! They’ve always known what I do, so to them it’s just my… job. But, they have already appeared in two feature films! They actually appear in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 as goblins! And they just finished filming on Jack the Giant Killer, so my son Harrison at age 8 has already appeared in two major films where as I started at age 11, so he has great delight in telling me that he’s ahead of me.
LS: Why is it, unlike so many other successful British actors that you have continued to reside in Britain, rather than move to Hollywood?
WD: I have no need to live in Hollywood really! It’s a fun place to be for a little while, but you soon see through the glitz and it’s just like anywhere else. I enjoy England, I love the seasons and we do have some great film-making talent here, and some great studios! So yeah, this is where I am. But I guess you do have to be flexible to be in this industry, so you never know!
LS: You have obviously visited many magical worlds, from the vast galaxies of Star Wars to the wonderful wizarding world of Harry Potter, But which film, or perhaps television show, was the most fun to work on, in terms of the character and the set around you?
WD: That’s an impossible question to answer! There has been so many great characters and fun sets, and so many fabulous people that I’ve worked with. I mean the highlights would have to be… Star Wars Return Of The Jedi, Wicket the Ewok! My first ever on-screen character, and one that many people still talk about and has fans all over the world. Willow, again another highlight, great director Ron Howard. I had a wonderful experience travelling the world filming, New Zealand, Wales, America. And HarryPotter! Just fabulous to be part of them, not particularly the most glamorous location (North London) but none the less that fabulous ensemble cast, and to be one of those people that brings the books to the screen!
LS: You’re perhaps most famous for you’re portrayal of the heroic Willow, where you worked alongside Val Kilmer. How different was it to take off the costumes and really show off your acting for the first time?
Oli (Warwick’s friend and assistant): It’s like you did it naked!
WD: [Laughs] That’s just what I was thinking! Well, it was great not to be hidden! It was really down to acting. It was a challenge. I mean Ron Howard is a great director and helped me through that process of getting nake… I mean getting the head off! I mean hopefully the results speak for themselves. I guess it’s if you thought I was any good or not!
LS: So, George Lucas has announced there is currently a Star Wars live-action TV series in the works. Will you be involved? Or would you like to be, in order to revisit the beloved Wicket?
WD: Has he!? [The room laughs] Urm… well, I wouldn’t want to exactly revisit Wicket, as lovely as he was! He was a bit of a hot and sweaty character to play! But I would love to play some sort of villain in the series, if it ever happens! But absolutely! To be on the dark side!
LS: There is a story that Mark Hamil, on the set of Return Of The Jedi bought you every single Star Wars toy you didn’t have. As child that must have been pretty amazing. Do you still keep in touch with any of the old cast?
WD: I do see them from time to time, mainly at events around the world. The Star Wars celebration for example, but as a rule we don’t really keep in touch. But I do see them now and then, which is nice!
WD: Well it’s just amazing to have been part of that! I feel honoured. It’s been ten years of my career working on those and I just feel very lucky and fortunate to have been part of it! I’m very proud of what we have all achieved! They are great films, and I am sure we will be talking about those, just as we do Star Wars 30 years on.
WD: Na, I wasn’t nervous about it! I mean, It’s what I do! It’s fun to play a villain actually. They’re the ones that are always remembered! So for me, that was a great thrill!
LS: Your book ‘Size Matters Not’ released 2010, contains some very interesting and hilariously heart-warming tales from your time behind the scenes of many films and more, including a dinner with Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, and Alan Rickman. But what moment in your career sticks out as the best so far?
WD: There are so many moments! They’re all in the book… available… signed… at the Expo [laughs] but there are just so many great moments to choose from. I mean, getting the part in Star Wars, just being in Star Wars at 11! Which I talk about… extensively… in the book [laughs].
Oli: “I think this is more about your career… than the book!”
WD: Oh do you!? Well… every word in the book is a moment.
LS: What can you tell us about your new up and coming long awaited sitcom, ‘Life’s Too Short’ staring mega stars such as Johnny Depp, Ricky Gervais and Steve Carell? How did it come about, and what exactly should we expect?
WD: I love that question [laughs]! I thought you were going to say, Ricky Gervais, Johnny Depp and Stephen Merchant! But it was Steve Carell! Poor Stephen Merchant! Didn’t even get a look in there [Laughs]! Well, I do think it’s going to be amazing. We have just finished filming and it was a lot of fun! As you say, it’s got some great cameos in there with many others that are top secret! The script is amazing, Ricky and Stephen are just fantastic! I can’t give too much away! But it will available to see on our screens in the UK on BBC2 in October! Did I mention I have a book [room laughs]?
(The show came about whilst Warwick made a cameo appearance in Ricky Gervais‘s hilarious parody show ‘Extras‘. It’s essentially a look at “The story of a showbiz Dwarf” with a hilarious twist of character!)
LS: You have often joked about a re-visit to the cult series ‘Leprechaun’, involving… pirates. Could the filming with Johnny Depp possibly be the start? If not, will we ever see the return of the gold grabbing psychopath?
WD: Well I did actually pitch it to Johnny the other day! Told him I had this idea for a Leprechaun movie versus pirates! And I won’t tell tell you what he said… but… I couldn’t tell if it was a favourable response or not! So the jury is out on that one. I may get a call from Mr. [Jerry] Bruckheimer… so I guess we will just wait and see! I mean, I would love to jump into those high heeled, buckled up shoes once again to cackle wildly… the leprechaun’s shoes that is… not my wife’s or something.
LS: You have been a special guest at many conventions, and are set to visit the Manchester MCM Expo on the 30th July. As a returning guest is this something you enjoy doing, meeting fans and interacting with people who love your work? Something that you don’t perhaps get to do often?
WD: I love interacting with the fans, they get me to record voice messages and everything! They are all lovely people! Going to the MCM Expo‘s gives me that opportunity to meet my audience! Up close and personal!
LS: I would just like to thank you, as a huge fan, for taking the time to answer these questions. In a final note what can we expect in the future from Warwick Davis?
WD: Thank you Liam, What can you expect? Urm… give me a chance [laughs]! Well, I’ve just finished the series! Perhaps a new autobiography at some point!? More entertainment, good characters and good acting [laughs]. Acting for whoever will have me… so if you have a camera…
Warwick will be meeting fans Saturday the 30th of July 2011 at the Manchester MCM expo, with the opportunity to get things signed and ask any questions you may have. Currently filming ‘Jack the Giant killer‘ (Legendary Pictures) and awaiting the release of ‘Life’s Too Short’ in October 2011, it’s the perfect moment to have a chat with him whilst he has the opportunity to take a break!