Who is Warwick Davis?
Warwick Davis is an English actor, TV presenter, director, writer, and producer. He is best known for his performances in the sitcom ‘Life’s Too Short’ and in ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Harry Potter’ films. Born and raised in Surrey, England, Warwick suffers from a very rare form of dwarfism since birth. His foray into acting was an accident. When he was 11 years old, his grandmother heard a radio announcement about the requirement of people shorter than four feet for the film ‘Return of the Jedi.’ The film released in 1983 and became one of Hollywood’s biggest motion pictures ever and Warwick’s ticket to stardom. The path-breaking success of his debut film paved Warwick’s way to star in more films, such as ‘Labyrinth,’ ‘Zorro,’ ‘Leprechaun,’ and ‘Gulliver’s Travels.’ Since 2001, he has appeared in every ‘Harry Potter’ film, playing different roles. After starring in many more films through the 2000s and the 2010s, he appeared in the 2011 mockumentary sitcom ‘Life’s Too Short,’ where he played a fictionalized version of himself. Warwick’s autobiography, ‘Size Matters Not,’ features a foreword by acclaimed filmmaker George Lucas.
Childhood & Early Life
Warwick Ashley Davis was born in Epsom, Surrey, on February 3, 1970, to Susan and Ashley Davis. His father worked at an insurance company. Warwick grew up with his younger sister.
Life was unfair to Warwick since his birth. He was born with a condition known as spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita, a rare form of dwarfism.
The condition was so severe that doctors had told his parents that it was almost impossible for Warwick to survive past his teenage years. However, Warwick survived. Although dwarfism is known to be a genetic disease, no member of his family had ever suffered from the disorder.
Warwick had a very hard time gelling with his classmates at ‘Chinthurst School.’ However, Warwick learned from his father that the only thing he could do to avoid getting bullied was to stay confident in school. He finished his high-school education from the ‘City of London Freemen’s School.’ Warwick was an extroverted teenager, and this trait helped him greatly when he finally auditioned for the film ‘Return of the Jedi.’
Warwick was 11 years old when his grandmother told him about the auditions for the next ‘Star Wars’ movie, which was then in the pre-production stage. The requirement was of a guy who was less than four feet tall. Being a huge fan of the science-fiction franchise himself, Warwick auditioned and earned the role of an extra, ‘Ewok.’ However, he eventually earned the role of ‘Wicket W Warrick’ due to the unavailability of the original actor who was supposed play the role.
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In 1983, the third and the final instalment in the highly successful ‘Star Wars’ trilogy, ‘Return of the Jedi,’ hit the screens and was an immediate success. It was hailed as the best film of the trilogy and the entire cast, including Warwick, earned accolades for their respective roles. The film became the biggest success of the year, and he was offered more roles.
During the production of the film, the assistant director, David Tomblin, filmed a short mockumentary about Warwick’s experience of portraying ‘Wicket.’ The film featured the early life of Warwick, his experiences with dwarfism, and the motivation behind his decision to be an actor.
Warwick continued to reprise the role of ‘Wicket’ in the following years, with made-for-TV films such as ‘Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure’ and ‘Ewoks: The Battle for Endor.’ In 1986, Warwick appeared in the films ‘The Princess and the Dwarf’ and ‘Labyrinth.’
The mind behind the ‘Star Wars’ films, George Lucas, had grown fond of Warwick by then and called him up in 1987 to discuss a project with him. The result was the film titled ‘Willow,’ which was written keeping Warwick in mind. The film had Warwick showing his face on screen for the first time. The film premiered in the presence of Prince Charles and Princess Diana and was an immediate success.
In 1988, he was offered a key role in the TV adaptation of the classic book series ‘The Chronicles of Narnia.’ He also starred in an episode of ‘Zorro.’
In 1993, he adopted a villainous persona for the film ‘Leprechaun,’ which also starred Jennifer Aniston. The horror–comedy film was major success and paved way for three more instalments, which also featured Warwick in the titular character. In the mid-1990s, he also starred in the films ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ and ‘Prince Valiant.’
In 1995, Warwick ventured into a business enterprise with a talent agency called ‘Willow Management,’ which specialized in representing actors who were below five feet tall. Many of his co-stars from his subsequent films had got their acting breaks through the agency.
In 1999, George Lucas revived the ‘Star Wars’ series, with the film ‘Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.’ Warwick played three roles in the film, namely, ‘Weazel,’ ‘Wald,’ and ‘Yoda.’ Despite the film earning negative reviews from critics, it was a major box-office success.
In 2001, Warwick was signed to play the role of a professor at ‘Hogwarts’ in the first instalment of the ‘Harry Potter’ film series, ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.’ Warwick’s portrayal of ‘Professor Filius Flitwick’ was immensely adored, and the film became a major box-office and critical success. The success of the film also paved way for him to be featured in various roles in the subsequent instalments of the series.
In 2004, ‘Willow Management’ started managing actors who were over seven feet tall and were struggling to find a footing in the industry. Warwick managed to arrange roles for several people in the ‘Harry Potter’ series, which frequently required dwarfs and tall actors. The franchise remains one of Warwick’s most successful film projects to date.
In 2005, Warwick appeared as a robot in the film ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.’ The successful film was adapted from a novel of the same name.
In 2008, Warwick appeared in the American fantasy–adventure film ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.’ Over the next few years, he turned to TV and appeared in series such as ‘Merlin’ and ‘Doctor Who.’ Some of his latest film appearances were in three ‘Star Wars’ films, one of which was the famed movie ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ that released in 2015.
Warwick Davis met his wife, Samantha, for the first time on the sets of the film ‘Willow.’ She was an “extra” in the film. They started dating and eventually got married in June 1991. She, too, suffers from dwarfism.
The couple’s physical conditions were not perfect for producing children, but they went ahead with it. The couple’s first two children, Lloyd and George, passed away immediately after birth. The couple presently have two children: a daughter, Annabelle, and a son, Harrison. Both the children suffer from dwarfism.
Warwick has had a difficult life and has shared his experiences with his fans through his autobiography, ‘Size Matters Not: The Extraordinary Life and Career of Warwick Davis.’ The foreword to the book was written by George Lucas, who is one Warwick’s biggest admirers in the industry.