Like countless others I have been a fan of his work since childhood. It isn’t every day you find an actor that can transport you into realms of fantasy as completely as Warwick Davis. Warwick is known for playing the title characters in Willow and the Leprechaun series of films; other prominent roles include Wicket W. Warrick in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Professor Filius Flitwick and the late Griphook in the Harry Potter movies, Marvin the Paranoid Android in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, as well as Nikabrik in the Walden Media version of Prince Caspian, Reepicheep in the BBC television versions of Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and Mr. Glimfeather the owl in The Silver Chair. Davis has his own sit-com directed by Ricky Gervais titled Life’s Too Short. A man of many talents his life story is told in pages of his autobiography, Size Matters Not, which gained him praise from Ron Howard.
What were you like as a child growing up?
I was just like any other child I suppose really. Although I didn’t grow up quiet as much as I might have done, which was an advantage in my case cause that was the reason I got into movies.
Do you think your career would have taken you all the places it has if not for your Grandmother? Were you close?
Well of course I was as close as anyone would be to their grandmother, but I really don’t think I would have the career I have without her having heard the commercial she did on the London radio station and then my mother put me forward for the part in Star Wars. It really was an opportunity although you know I was quiet the performer, being a small person you sort of make up for your lack of inches by being a bit larger than life so it did lend itself to the world of entertainment.
Being a fan of the films yourself what did it feel like to get the role of Wicket in Star Wars?
Yea, I was a huge Star Wars fan so to actually be working on the set of a Star Wars movie was the most exciting, the most fun experience I could have ever had. And you know children nowadays play on a gaming console to battle with stormtroopers whereas I was able to do it in real life in the redwood forests dressed as an Ewok. It was terrific fun, a great opportunity, and one that will always stay with me.
You had the chance to play Wicket in the Ewok films as well. What are your feelings on the whole Ewok culture? Why do you think people responded to the characters as well as they did? Do you have a certain fondness for the Wicket character?
I mean I am very fond of the character Wicket of course; he is my first film role. He is the reason I am now an actor and have a wonderful career and have had all the opportunities that I’ve had. And he is still a character that is very popular wherever I go; people remember that character and have a fondness for him. Feelings for the Ewok culture, I mean there was a kind of whole merchandising culture surrounding the Ewoks and it divided fans, as a Star Wars fan you either loved them or you hated them. But of course I’m on the side of the lovers.
You also got to work with Ron Howard in Willow. What did you learn from that experience?
Willow was a great opportunity for me as well. Ron Howard is the most terrific director you could ask for. He taught me a lot. He comes at the role of directing really from an actor’s perspective. Because you know he himself used to be an actor. He was brilliant in getting me through that film. It was very tough experience for me it was six months of very hard work, traveling all over the world. It could have been quiet daunting but he was always very supportive and really helped me give the performance that I did so I do owe a lot to that guy.
You have appeared in some of the best fantasy films of all time. Do you consider yourself lucky to have had the chance to play characters to delight viewers of all ages? Do you enjoy hearing from people who have been fans of your work since childhood?
Thank you very much. Yeah, I mean my films are generational, so I do get messages often from people who have grown up with the films that I’ve been involved with. Every day someone says I grew up with Willow or Star Wars was the movie of my childhood and what have you so that’s really nice. I do enjoy appearing in films that are suitable for people of all ages. You know grandparents can enjoy with grandchildren etc. I am very lucky if I look back there are so many great films that really will sort of stand the test of time and be passed on as they say to generation to generation.
Do you ever hear from children who are fans of your work?
As I said every day. People who write to me are from age five or six up to eighty six maybe older.
Did you enjoy the lead role in the Leprechaun films? Do you consider yourself a fan of horror flicks? Did you ever have a favorite movie monster?
I am not a fan of horror anymore. I used to be growing up, but as soon as I became a father myself you sort of start seeing the world through your children’s eyes and then horror movies become sort of rather unpleasant things to watch. So I wouldn’t say I watch horror movies anymore, but yeah as a kid I loved Halloween and Out Running on the Street they were the films that I grew up watching and dare I say enjoying. Playing the Leprechaun was fun. It was my first sort of villainous character and every actor will tell you they are by far the most fun characters to play. It is the one that is remembered and it’s the most enjoyable to actually portray as well and the Leprechaun was really a character that I was given free rein in developing. It was a real joy to play him in six movies and there is such demand for a seventh, but no plans to do that at the moment.
One of those films found you in space. Do you believe there could be other life forms in space? What are you feelings on aliens, UFOs and such?
I mean yeah there could be other stuff out there. I don’t see why not, there are so many stars and so many viable planets around stars that we don’t even know about. So the chances are pretty high I suppose. So I’m kind of open to that kind of thing.
Why do you think people like to believe impossible things possible?
I guess I think people want to think anything is possible because sometimes the world feels quiet restrictive and we are all quiet restrained in what we do in our everyday lives so it is nice to think for a minute that something impossible could be possible. It helps take us out of the monotony of our daily lives I suppose. And that is why movies are such great escapisms, especially fantasy and science fiction films, you can go into a movie theater and be transported somewhere else. You know you can at least for the time you are in there believe that the impossible is possible. It is the people that come out still believing the impossible is possible that I worry about. (laughs)
What are your feelings on leprechauns? Do you think such things are possible?
I mean these things come from myths and legends and they all have a source. Whether that was a little man wearing a little green hat, dancing, counting gold and what have you, I don’t know. It’s from very, very distance periods in history and I like all that sort of thing. But yea I mean I’m not going to say whether I believe in Leprechauns or but…
Is it true people come up to you and touching you for luck? Do you find that annoying and rude?
Yes people do. Different cultures have different beliefs and some cultures do believe it is indeed lucky to touch a little person. And I fit into that category by being a little person. I don’t think it is rude, it is just what they believe, it’s just kind of rather fun to try and avoid such touching, cause you know when you are touched as a little person the luck does drain away. So I have a certain level of luck and I lose some of that every time somebody touches me. Which you know if that was to be depleted completely my career would be over so I do try to avoid those touchings whenever possible.
Aside from the health issues what would you say is the most challenging thing in regards to your size? How do you cope with the joint pain and other things associated with it?
Oh my word. I mean it is challenging being short, but it is what I’ve grown up with. I’ve never known anything else so it’s a challenge but it’s one that you always overcome and then you just deal with stuff on a daily basis and it’s not really a problem. What do you think is the most important thing to remember when dealing with ailments at any age? Alright Dr. Davis says this: Just drink lots of water, eat sensibly and get plenty of sleep…and fresh air.
How do you think you have changed most as an individual since your early days?
My hair has gotten a little bit greyer, I’m a little bit taller, and I am wiser.
What advice would you offer people the world over who might be dealing with image issues of whatever sort? Do you think the world in general places far too much emphasis on looks?
Be who you are really, at the end of the day. You know I’m different; there are lots of people out who are different. Some people who aren’t different pierce their nose and spike up their hair to be different. So it’s kind of ok to be different. That’s what I say. It sets you apart and people remember you. I’ve just realized there are more questions. I thought I was at the end? This is madness but I’ll keep going…
What would you say is the craziest thing you have ever done?
Are there any little known things about you that most people would be surprised to learn?
That I have indeed done this interview.
How did becoming a father change your life? What do you feel is the most important thing to pass on to your children? What do you love most about being a parent?
It’s brilliant. If you have kids it does change your life, you see the world in a different way. Watching them grow up and hearing the things they come out with. It is challenging but at the same time very rewarding and I think it is fantastic, I love it.
As a native to the UK, what do you think about the current state of the nation? What do you think is the most pressing matter at hand in today’s political environment?
I don’t care about politics. I don’t even know who the Prime Minister is. Absolutely doesn’t bother me.
What do you love most about living in England?
I love the seasons.
Do you consider yourself religious? What are you feelings on the afterlife? Do you believe it possible for the soul to live on in some fashion after death?
I’m not particularly religious but I would like to think that death isn’t death and we’re dead and that’s it. The End. Could be. But let’s just think about life while we’re doing it.
What has it been like to work with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant on Life Is Too Short?
It’s been an amazing experience. It has been hard work but we’re at this point when I talk to you almost finished filming the show. I’m very proud of what we’ve done and hope the world out there also is thrilled with it, enjoys it and embraces it, and gets it.
What other projects are you working on at the moment?
Nothing else at the moment.
How do you hope to be remembered when your life is done?
Now that’s depressing. That’s not even the last question either; there is still another one after that? How do you hope to be remembered when your life is done? Bloody hell. I’m speechless.
What would you like to say to all of your fans in closing?
Is that before I’m dead? Or have they got to come and read my headstone? (laughs)
Thanks for watching.
Editors note: This interview originally ran in Haunted Magazine in the UK. To explain the weirdness of the questions, Warwick’s assistant had said, “There is no way he is going to answer all of these. They are just too personal. Write down some at the end to fill in what he will likely skip.” And that is how we ended up with this oddly worded little gem of an interview. It is also the first interview I had to transcribe entirely by hand, the old fashioned way. I appreciate the chance to learn. I do sincerely thank both, Oliver and Warwick, for giving me the chance to do this very early interview. It has meant the world to me. ~Tina Ayres.