Warwick Davis: The actor on his best role, 'Star Wars' vs Harry Potter and the joy of 'Columbo'

'My life changed when I got a part in 'Return of the Jedi' as Wicket'

I run my own acting agency for short people We have more than 100 short actors on our books at Willow Management, though I run it slightly better than the version of me that I play in [BBC sitcom] Life's Too Short. The agency is also less exploitative and I don't take all the best jobs in real life! We've got a lot of great people there, though; [short people] don't often get the chance to shine. Fortunately in my career, I have been given the opportunity to show what I can do.

My life changed when I got a part in 'Return of the Jedi' [as the Ewok scout, Wicket] I'd already seen Star Wars when I was seven, so it was a powerful experience being 11 years old, and seeing the actual film set and meeting my heroes. I was intrigued to see how films were put together and edited, and it was the first time I had come face to face with other little people. It made me realise I wasn't alone. [Davis has a form of dwarfism called Spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia.]

A white actor wouldn't black-up to play a black actor So why cast average-height people in the role of short people in films? When I watched Snow White and the Huntsman last year [starring Kristen Stewart] I was distracted by taller actors [such as Ray Winstone] playing the roles of the seven dwarfs. The other Snow White film released that year, Mirror Mirror, used little people, and that's how it should be.

I'd love to play a role that has nothing to do with height Which is why I'm working on The Reduced Height Theatre Company, starting next year. It'll feature only short actors doing proper plays, on a reduced-height set – so it's a level playing field. We'll start with the classic farce [by Philip King] See How They Run, though I'd love to do JB Priestley.

Appearing in 'Dr Who' was my greatest role I played this character Porridge [alongside Matt Smith, in the penultimate episode of series seven, "Nightmare in Silver"], and I felt there was so much going on with that role, in terms of who he really was. He's a guy that's emperor of the universe. And, like me, he'd had a lot of success, but was trying to be a real person even though the pressure of his job was huge. That resonated with me and it touched a lot of people. That will definitely go on my showreel.

I have bad joints If I've been active all day I know I'll pay for it the next morning. It takes me an hour each day just to get my elbows, knees and hips mobile again. Right now I'm doing all this choreography on stage, rehearsing for [West End stage show] Spamalot, but I have so much desire to perform the pain doesn't matter. It sounds masochistic, but it's what I'm used to.

Watching 'Columbo' on DVD is my guilty pleasure My wife and two kids call it "Columbo Day", where we watch episodes together back to back. Yes it's cheesy, you know who the killer is from the opening and you know that Columbo is going to find out who did it. But there's still something comforting about watching him do it.

If I had to choose between a new Harry Potter or a future 'Star Wars'… Hmm...it's a tricky one. But I would have to go with the planned Star Wars films by JJ Abrams. It's where I started and it would be wonderful to be part of the new trilogy.

Warwick Davis, 43, is an actor and director. He stars alongside Jennifer Ellison in 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' at the Milton Keynes Theatre from 6 December to 12 January. For tickets, tel: 0844 871 7652, atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine