Warwick Davis: One Big Man
Actor Warwick Davis joined a group of Sussex Executives to enjoy the start of the Beaujolais Nouveau season and raise funds for his charity ‘Little People’ UK. This small man has made a major impact in important films such ‘Star Wars’ & ‘Harry Potter’ as well as guesting and presenting many other TV shows and film roles both in the UK and Hollywood.
Addressing his audience, Davis was humble showing little nerves, while commanding the stage with an authority which overcame his lack of inches. In many ways Warwick started at the top of his profession, at eleven years old. His grandmother heard a radio advert calling for people who were 4 feet (1.2 m) tall or shorter to be in ‘Return of the Jedi’. To Davis, who was a fan of the ‘Star Wars’ film, it was a dream come true. He had a tutor on the set schooling him in Maths and English when not required for filming. Davis described Harrison Ford ‘as quiet guy but with a strong presence’. Warwick even collected ‘Star War’ figures. On the film set fellow actor Mark Hamill asked him what ones he was missing. He told him and 2 weeks later they came through the post. Davis considered George Lucas a ‘bright and intelligent guy with a good sense of humour’, but got on really well with Carrie Fisher (1956-2016) who he could never see as anything other than Princess Leia. They met frequently since the original ‘Star Wars’ days at conventions where thousands of fans queued for autographs, selfies and ‘Star Wars’ memorabilia.
Warwick has also worked with some of the biggest names in comedy including Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant in the sitcom ‘Life is to short’. He said Stephen was ’just a brilliant writer and performer’ but according to Warwick ‘Ricky can at times act like a four-year-old. Laughing in the middle of a scene’. He would also play pranks on Warwick, but said he learned a lot from him, but the biggest thing Warwick noticed was ‘comedy is a serious business’. He also mentioned how much he admired Laurel & Hardy, who had been an influence on his career.
In the film ‘Willow’ he worked with Val Kilmer who he got on well with but stated he had an attitude and sense of humour that not everyone appreciated. Warwick was wearing on set a pair of sunglasses he particularly liked. One day when chatting to Kilmer he took them off and broke them in half. This made Warwick really angry. Kilmer then handed over two brand new pairs of sunglasses he had bought him which he thought were cooler. Davis teased his audience by stating they’re maybe a sequel to ‘Willow’ which is now being discussed.
Davis TV appearances have gone beyond acting, presenting ITV game shows ‘Celebrity Squares’ (2014–2015) and ‘Tenable’ (2016–present). He also recalled his time as host of ‘Have I got news for you’, believing Hislop & Merton were just ‘brilliant at what they do’, so he never tried to compete. In taking questions from an enthusiastic audience, Davis showed his own wit as half way through, one person stood up and said ‘I have been looking forward to you speaking …..’ Warwick returned ‘I started half an hour ago’. This brought the house down. Maybe the person was suffering from too much Beaujolais Nouveau which I was informed by an expert is best drunk ‘fresh and young’. Whether that’s the wine or a person he didn’t actually say.
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.