Interview: Warwick Davis

We talk to the veteran actor about his career, before the release of his autobiography.

032WarwickYour autobiography, Size Matters Not, is being released on 22 April. How long did the writing process take?

To answer that in literal terms it’s, I suppose, about a year. But I mean, it’s my entire life really, I’ve been culminating and gathering these stories together. It was funny, when I set out to do this, because I thought ‘Have I got enough stuff to write about?’ And then I started to think about all of the events I’d appeared at, and over the years I’ve told stories of my adventures making Star Wars and that sort of thing. I thought that if I put all of those things in the book it would be interesting, but then I started to remember things that I hadn’t really thought of before, I had these bullet points of my life and career that I’d been talking about, but all of the stuff in between I’d always left out. It was fun going in and trying to pull all of those memories out as well. It helped me to listen to music, by going to some of the places again, and it all started to bring back those memories. And talking to people of course, talking to my parents about my childhood and things that I could remember, and talking to people that I’d worked with along the way, all of it started to come back.

Did you always want to write it yourself, or was there a temptation to have a biographer write it perhaps?

There is a temptation, but I wanted it to feel personal, and I thought ‘Well, I’ve got to stand alongside this for the rest of my life and my career’. It was a goal for me, an achievement. I’m not a writer, I mean I’ve written scripts but I wouldn’t say I was a writer. But then obviously a copy editor can go through this and correct English and all that stuff, you don’t have to worry too much about it, you can just get it out the way that you want to get it out.

It must be quite a challenging process, writing about your own life. Did you have to restrain yourself much?

Yeah, it is, and you have to be strict about things as well. I was asking myself whether people really want to know about that, I wanted everything in the book to have a purpose and a point, it had to justify itself in my eyes, otherwise it didn’t make it. And there’s lots of stories and happenings in the book, and hopefully there’s a lot that will entertain and inspire and move people, that was the idea of what went in.

And when it came to, perhaps more personal events, did you consult with your wife on how to approach it?

Oh absolutely, we worked on it quite closely, those bits. And again, the reason that we talked about the things that we did was because hopefully other people in those situations, or those who may find themselves in that situation… they can see that there is a light at the end of it, and there is hope, and that you can find a way through. We hoped it would be an inspiration in a sense as well, and hopefully people will come away from the book saying ‘wow, that’s really cool’ and they’ve learned something, and they’ve had fun. Because a lot of the book is about having fun, and seeing the funny side of life – when you’re 3’6, a lot of funny things happen to you. And for people who are movie buffs – I’ve had to cover a lot of groups here. I don’t want to alienate the average reader, who may have seen some of the things I’m in but is more intrigued about the life of someone who is short, and then there’s going to be avid readers and viewers of Star Wars and Willow. And maybe one or two who liked Leprechaun. So I wanted to make sure that I catered to their wants from the book in giving them the information. It’s kind of a tricky balance, I tested the book on quite a few people of different ages and background to see whether there was too much of one thing or too little of the other, and I adjusted it accordingly.

And of course, George Lucas wrote that lovely foreword.

It’s wicked, isn’t it? I was taken aback when I asked him to do it and he said ‘no problem’, and it was just a brilliant little piece. I was so honoured, and he was the ideal person to write it. I wasn’t just thinking ‘Oh, let’s get a big name’, he’s the reason for my career. I was given the opportunity to be in Star Wars, during the film I was upgraded to playing a character rather than a background Ewok, and then with Willow and everything he’s been instrumental in moving my career forward and putting me where I am, and remains so. And he’s influenced me in other ways, as you can read in the book, with the advice he’s given me. It was a lovely piece.

Has recounting your life in such a large amount of detail changed your perspective at all on any events?

Yeah, it certainly made me take a step back and think that I have done quite a lot. Because when you’re doing it, as I say, I never really sat down and thought that I was going to be an actor. I just kind of found myself ending up doing that, I left school and I went to college, and now I’m acting, this is my career. But when I was writing the book I thought ‘wow, I have done quite a lot of stuff’. It showed me how fortunate I’ve been throughout the years as well, how lucky I’ve been to kind of manage to somehow get into all of these films which have, on the whole, been financially successful and some of them culturally successful as well. Like Leprechaun, it wasn’t financially huge, but it’s got a huge following, whether people like to admit it or not. And did you see the little clip at the Oscars? They were doing a montage of great horror movies, and who popped up in the middle? Yours truly! Either the editor was having a bit of a laugh, or it is considered to be as important as Freddy Krueger and Jason, I have no idea.

Obviously the first few chapters are about how you got into Star Wars, and how it kickstarted your career. Did it ever feel overwhelming, being part of such a vast production when you were so young at the time?

Not at that point. When I got to shooting Willow, that’s when I was a bit older and began to realise what I was doing, that I was at the centre of quite a big production, but on Jedi it was literally ‘this is such fun’, it was like a big adventure. I knew what films were, obviously, I knew that this was a big franchise and the next Star Wars film, and I was excited by that. And you get treated so wonderfully as a youngster on set, you get spoiled, and even though you’re not a lead actor you get treated like one of the stars.

By Carrie Fisher, no less.

Oh, Carrie had a particular fondness for me, making sure I was okay. But I never realised the enormity of it, because I was in the background, and it was only when the film came out and the merchandise that I started to see the importance of what I’d done.

Next: Willow, Las Vegas Leprechauns and playing multiple roles in Harry Potter.