Since his acting debut at age 13, playing an Ewok in Return of the Jedi, Warwick Davis has gone on to be a part of some of the biggest and best-loved movies of the past 30 years — including roles in the Harry Potter franchise, the Star Wars prequels and, of course, the mighty Leprechaun saga. He even had his own TV series created for him by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, HBO’s Life’s Too Short.
This week, Davis marks the 25th anniversary of his inaugural leading role, in the George Lucas-produced, Ron Howard-directed fantasy adventure Willow, which arrives on Blu-ray for the first time. We had a chance to chat with Davis recently, where he talked about five of his favorite movies.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (John Hughes, 1987; 94% Tomatometer)
The Muppet Christmas Carol (Brian Henson, 1992; 69% Tomatometer)
Let’s see, number two… see I don’t know what order to put these in, but let’s have [laughs] — it’s going to be a really weird top five — Muppet Christmas Carol. It’s just so good. It’s got a bit of everything: brilliant characterization, great songs; just beautifully shot. A warm, cozy, nice feeling, I think is what that film is. And Michael Caine is good. I think it’s great the way they used a lot of the different Muppet characters in the story, and they kind of fit with the characters — you know, you’ve got the old guys as the ghosts; it just all worked so well. Beautifully done. Love it.
Next it’s gonna be National Lampoon’s… which one are we gonna put first? Let’s say Vegas Vacation. [Laughs] I dunno… I mean, Chevy Chase is fantastic. I love those movies. A particular favorite of mine is the beginning, when he’s singing in the car. Just the whole thing, really; I mean, Randy Quaid is fantastic. It’s just great. I can watch it over and over.
One more, what’s it gonna be? Ask me another question, ’cause something will pop up in the meantime.
It must be nice to know that 25 years later, a lot of people love Willow; it’s become something of cult favorite.
I know, it is, it’s nice. I feel very flattered knowing that people enjoy watching it, enjoy handing it down to their kids and their grand-kids, which is something I hear all the time. There’s not a lot of films that people still talk about 25 years later.
Your first role, of course, was in Return of the Jedi, which it’s fair to say a few people still talk about. Is there a place for Wicket in the new Star Wars films?
I don’t know. I honestly don’t think so. I mean, the Ewoks kicked the Stormtroopers’ butts and I think that’s their job done, you know. Unless the story somehow goes back to Endor, which I don’t know — I wouldn’t think the story would pick up exactly where it left off. We’re not all gonna be cuddling to begin the new adventure [laughs].
Well you’d made your peace with R2-D2 at the end of the Jedi, so there could be a standalone buddy movie in store.
[Laughs] That would be funny. A little buddy movie between R2 and Wicket. But I’d like to play a villain. Somebody who’s really nasty, with a lightsaber. That would be ideal.
So you just want a lightsaber this time, that’s what it comes down to.
[Laughs] Oh yeah. I never got to wield one of them, and I’m very experienced in waving things around, as far as wands go.
Alright, have you been inspired to come up with your fifth favorite film?
Okay, well now I’ve got one of two. Either The Muppets, the new movie, or a film called Monsters, which I really liked. I think I might put that one in. I loved the production design, which I gather [Gareth Edwards] did all himself, and the music by John Hopkins. I’m a huge fan of his music anyway, and his music is what introduced me to the film, which is weird. I look for anything that John’s done, and discovered he’d done the music to this film Monsters. I loved the soundtrack and I thought, “I wonder what this film’s like?” I loved the movie. I thought it was a terrific job.
Willow is released on Blu-ray this week.