First acquiring notice as the lead Ewok, Wicket, in “Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi” (1983), a role he later recreated in the two TV films “The Ewok Adventure” (1984) and “Ewoks: The Battle for Endor” (1985), British actor Warwick Davis enjoyed even more recognition and popularity playing the title character in “Willow” (1988), from which he took home a Saturn nomination. He stated, “I would definitely green light a ‘Willow’ sequel. So many people ask me about that. Every day people want to see another movie. I'd be very excited for it because I was 17 when I did that movie and to go back and have another chance at the character now. I've learned so much more. It'd be great.”
Davis went on to receive attention with his villainous role of Leprechaun in the cult horror classic “Leprechaun” (1993) and the subsequent five sequels. More recently, he is known to moviegoers as Professor Filius Flitwick in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone” (2001), “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (2002), “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004), “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (2005), “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (2007) and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (2009). Other film credits include “Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace” (1997), “Ray” (2004), “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” (2005), and “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” (2008). Davis has also acted in several TV projects, including the series “Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (1989) and “The Silver Chair” (1990) and the miniseries “Gulliver's Travels” (1996). Davis will reprise his role of Flitwick in the upcoming “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I” (2010).
Apart form being a successful actor, Davis is the co-founder of Willow Personal Management Ltd., “The biggest agency for short actors in the world,” along with fellow little person actor Peter Burroughs. He also owns a production company called “Inch High Productions.” A humanitarian, Davis participated in the charity telethon Children in Need. In addition, he set up the Wicket the Ewok Appeal to raise money for Peterborough's Special Care Baby Unit.
Currently, Davis resides in Yaxley near Peterborough with his wife Samantha and two children, Annabel and Harrison. He mentions “Planes, Trains & Automobiles,” “Uncle Buck,” “Vegas Vacation,” “Punch Drunk Love” and “The Muppet's Christmas Carol” as his favorite movies.
Childhood and Family:
Son of an insurance broker and a homemaker, Warwick Ashley Davis was born on February 3, 1970, in Epsom, Surrey, England. He has a younger sister. He attended the prestigious City of London Freemen's School. A huge fan of the Star Wars movies, 11 year old Warwick entered an audition for “Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi” (1983) after his grandmother heard an announcement on the radio that they were searching for people under 4 feet tall to try out for the film. He eventually won the coveted role of Wicket.
Meeting on the set of “Willow” (1988), Warwick and Samantha Davis, who was an extra in the movie, exchanged wedding vows in June 1991. Samantha is the daughter of his business partner, British actor Peter Burroughs (born in 1947), and the sister of actress Hayley Burroughs.
In September 1991, Warwick's first son, Lloyd, died shortly after his birth. Warwick and his wife welcomed their second child, daughter Annabel, in 1997. The couple's third child, Harrison, was born in 2003. Warwick's wife and children are also little people.
Warwick currently stands at 3 ft 6 inches tall. Different from most little people, who have a condition called achondroplasia (which his wife and children have), his dwarfism is a result of an uncommon genetic condition called spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita (SED). He commented, “As you get older, you can suffer from painful hips and our joints wear a lot quicker than for people of average height.”
An extra in the 1981 Terry Gilliam adventure film “Time Bandit,” young Warwick Davis got his big breakthrough when he replaced the sick actor Kenny Baker to portray Wicket, the lead Ewok, in George Lucas' “Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi” (1983). While on set, he began a friendship with Lucas and reprised the role of Wicket in the subsequent made-for-TV films “The Ewok Adventure” (1984) and “Ewoks: The Battle for Endor” (1985). He was then seen playing roles in such films as Jim Henson's “Labyrinth” (1986, with David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly), the 3-minute short “Star Tours” (1987) and “The Princess and the Dwarf” (1989).
However, it was Davis' performance in the Ron Howard-directed, George Lucas-produced “Willow” (1988) that put the teen actor in the spotlight. Cast as the lead character and hero Willow, an unwilling dwarf who receives the duty of protecting a special baby, a role specially created for him, Davis proved to be outstanding and was nominated for a Saturn in the category of Best Performance by a Younger Actor. The film earned Oscar nominations for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing and Best Effects, Visual Effects, among other honors.
After the success of the film, Davis returned to television to star as the swaggering mouse, Reepicheep, in the BBC TV series “Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (1989), an adaptation of C. S. Lewis' “The Chronicles of Narnia” series of books. He went on to play Glimfeather the Owl in the follow-up series “The Silver Chair” (1990).
Davis began the coveted role of an evil Leprechaun in 1993 in the feature film of the same name. Directed and written by Mark Jones, the movie was a financial success and has collected a strong cult following among fans of the slasher genre. The cast of the film also included Jennifer Aniston, Ken Olandt and Mark Holton. Throughout the 1990s, Davis reprised the Leprechaun role in the installments “Leprechaun 2” (1994, directed by Rodman Flender), “Leprechaun 3” (1995, V) and “Leprechaun 4: In Space” (1997, V).
Davis also had the important role of Grildrig in the well-received miniseries “Gulliver's Travels” (NBC, 1996), based on the Jonathan Swift novel of the same name. It also starred Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, James Fox, Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole and John Gielgud. He then supported Stephen Moyer, Katherine Heigl, Ron Perlman and Thomas Kretschmann in the remake “Prince Valiant” (1997) and starred as Lucky in Brian Kelly's “A Very Unlucky Leprechaun” (1998, with Tim Matheson) and the 1999 sequel “The White Pony” (with Olivier Gruner). He returned to the “Star Wars“ franchise for “Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace” (1997), in which he had three unaccredited roles.
The new millennium saw Davis play Acorn the Dwarf in four episodes of the epic fantasy miniseries “The 10th Kingdom” (2000), written by Simon Moore. The show earned primarily positive reviews from critics, but suffered from low ratings. The same year, he returned to his villainous role of Leprechaun in the fifth sequel “Leprechaun in the Hood,” this time directed by Rob Spera and costarring Ice-T. He again recreated the role on “Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood” (2002), helmed by Steven Ayromlooi.
In 2001, Davis gained a major boost when he had the dual role of Professor Flitwick and the Goblin Bank Teller in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,” the first in the well-known Harry Potter movies series. Directed by Chris Columbus with Daniel Radcliffe playing the lead, the film was a massive box office success and collected three Oscar nominations. With worldwide earnings of more than $974 million, it earned the No. 5 spot on the highest-grossing film of all-time list.
Following an appearance in the independent film “Al's Lads” (2002), Davis resurfaced as Flitwick in the equally successful sequel “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” which was released in the U.K. on November 15, 2002, and the U.S. on November 28 that same year. He jointly picked up a Phoenix Film Critics Society nomination for Best Acting Ensemble for his work in the film. He then took a short hiatus and resurfaced in 2004 in “Skinned Deep,” a film from director/writer Gabriel Bartalos, before returning as Flitwick in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004), for director Alfonso Cuarón, and the follow-up “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (2005), for director Mike Newell.
In between the Harry Potter films, Davis played Oberon in the biopic of the legendary Ray Charles, “Ray” (2004), which starred Jamie Foxx and was helmed by Taylor Hackford. The acclaimed film won two of six Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor for Foxx. Davis was also cast as Marvin the Paranoid Android in the successful science fiction film “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” (2005), adapted from Douglas Adams' book of the same name.
2006 found Davis making a memorable guest appearance as Dom Cox in “FM,” an episode of the British popular comedy series “Comedy Lab.” The next year, he was featured in the British thriller “Small Town Folk” (2007), directed by Peter Stanley-Ward. The accomplished performer recreated his role of Professor Flitwick in the fifth Harry Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (2007), directed by David Yates. He followed it up with a role in the comedy “Agent One-Half” (2008), which Davis also co-produced and contributed to the story, and the notable supporting role of Nikabrik in the popular big screen adaptation of C. S. Lewis' “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” (2008).
Recently, Davis joined the cast of the sixth Harry Potter movie, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” which was released on July 15, 2009. Again helmed by David Yates, it was an immediate success. With a worldwide gross of over $860 million, it has become the highest grossing film of 2009.
Davis is scheduled to return in the “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I,” which is set for a 2010 release. He will also star with his wife in the upcoming British film “ShortFellas,” which was written and directed by Richard Johnstone.
“To me that's part of my working day and I would never refuse a job where I'm under several hours of makeup because as an actor, I enjoy performing. It's about the creation of the character and the art to me, not about being comfortable and how long it all takes. Nothing's better than coming away from a film when people don't even recognize you because you've undergone a total transformation.” Warwick Davis