When was the first time you recognized Warwick Davis? In a movie career spanning 40 years, there are many times you might not even have known it was him onscreen. Davis is a master of disguise under heavy prosthetics and head-to-toe costuming. Director George Lucas saw the actor’s talent and had him star in Willow (1988). It would continue a long line of appearances in the fantasy and sci-fi genres, from the Harry Potter films to Doctor Who. In the British sitcom, Life’s Too Short, he plays against type -- or sort of. He’s playing a version of himself. Meta references to past movie roles and awkward situations of daily life get tossed in. It’s Warwick Davis if he was arrogant and egotistical, and it’s obvious the actor has a blast poking fun at himself. No matter the role he takes on, his exuberant personality is as captivating as anything a high fantasy spell could conjure up.
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)
To end the original trilogy, Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi sees a final battle is set on the woodland moon of Endor. Friendships, it would seem in this galaxy, far, far away, begin with distrust. A young Ewok happens upon Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). Wicket W. Warrick was the first role for a very young, 11-year-old Warwick Davis. He contributed many aspects to bringing Wicket to life, even under the full-body Ewok costuming. He takes advantage of movement and Fisher as his co-star. There are inquisitive turns to his head. He keeps his spear directed towards her, ready to be hostile until Leia offers food. Then the Ewok can’t help but turn into a trustworthy ally. The creature design has big eyes, big fingernails, and is very furry. He is as curious as he is skittish. Watch Wicket and his fellow Ewoks decimate the Empire on Disney+.
“If you’re gonna linger, I’ll give you the finger.” The evil leprechaun Lubdan sticks one of his claws in a gun and it implodes with sparks. Beware, a bullet can’t hold off this creature, but a four-leaf clover can. Surely, the Leprechaun franchise are the movies to turn on once St. Paddy’s Day rolls around - it’s ridiculous and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Appearing in six movies, Davis stars as the killer leprechaun searching for his gold coins. Yes, he rhymes, but a victim should not underestimate him: Lubdan will bite into their ear or knee, whatever works. As if it isn’t obvious though, the series indulged in campiness; he will cackle and chase around Jennifer Aniston in a wheelchair. Beware stealing his gold on Amazon Prime and Tubi.
Harry Potter Series
Filius Flitwick is the professor of Charms at Hogwarts and undergoes a magical transformation himself. In the first two movies, the character is a very old man. After director Alfonso Cuarón’s take on the franchise, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, he changed up Warwick Davis’ appearance and a younger, mustached wizard stuck. And Flitwick is as loyal as he is easily startled. Young student Seamus (Devon Murray) manages to explode a feather when learning the “Wingardium Leviosa” spell, nearly knocking the professor backward in shock. And later on, he stands alongside his fellow professors to keep the school safe from invading Death Eaters. Warwick's other character, the secretive and conniving Griphook, is nothing like Flitwick. In the Deathly Hallows two-parter, the Gringotts Wizarding Bank worker agrees to help Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends retrieve the Sword of Gryffindor. His betrayal adds further complications to their final battle. Check out Warwick's multi-character work in the movies on HBO Max.
The biopic of Ray Charles (Jamie Foxx) explores the musician’s childhood to his legendary fame. Along the way, Oberon comes in. Davis plays the man who gets Ray onto the path to meet Jack Launderdale, the president of Swing Time Records. Although the character wasn’t a real-life figure that Ray met, Davis explained the importance to Oberon on his website. He was, “a fictional character, based on two 'short' M.C.s working in Jazz Clubs during the period.” Oberon gives Ray a joint to ease his nerves before the musician steps onto the stage for a performance. It’s a great example of giving Davis the opportunity to step away from the wonders of wizards and Death Stars and show how capable the actor is in a story set in reality. Watch on Peacock.
Life’s Too Short (2011)
At a food market, Davis uses a mop to toss items into his basket that are at the top of the shelves. An employee starts giving him crap for using the mop, but with no plans to purchase it. A woman tries to help out and confesses to being a fan. Then when Davis buys a box of condoms, the day once again doesn’t go in his favor. Playing this fictional version of himself, Davis gets to really tap into the comedy he gives to many of his characters. Because this take on his “real life” is more for fun, the show isn’t afraid to make him more of an anti-hero than a hero. He’s the kind of guy who will sneak over to his ex-wife’s house to let out the air of her boyfriend’s car. His career isn’t exactly booming, so he attempts to steal work from other actors. The show isn’t only poking fun at him, it takes a look at the reality of the world being made so much more accessible for the public who are considered average height. If Davis wishes to use a mop to catch food items, let him be! Watch on HBO Max.
Porridge (David), dressed as an aviator, helps out the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) as an onslaught of Cyberman threatens lives. It’s a shame too, the planet the Doctor arrives at is an extraterrestrial theme park. But where there should be fun, the place is all drained of it. The amusement park is closed down, but there are still games. Once the Doctor gets infected by the cyborgs, he is stuck playing chess in his mind. As for Porridge, he runs the planet’s big attraction and there’s a reason this man is out in the middle of nowhere. He is actually Emperor Ludins Nimrod Kendrick Longstaff the 41st, defender of humanity, Imperator of known space - and Davis says this as if it’s a simple statement. Also, he controls over 1,000 galaxies. Porridge is trying to run away from the responsibilities but the danger of Cybermen means it’s back to business. Kind, confident, and with a heart for adventure, he simply wishes to not be so lonely. Travel to Hedgewick’s World of Wonders on HBO Max.
In Season 7 of Jonathan Creek, the episode, “Daemons' Roost,” sees Wendell Wilkie (Davis) arrive, a reverend who is very excited to meet amateur sleuth, Jonathan Creek (Alan Davies). Wilkie is a big fan of Creek, a man who uses his background as a stage magician’s assistant to uncover the truth behind elaborate crime scenes. What seems like something supernatural, is really just an illusion. (Most of the time.) In this episode, ominous, possibly occult forces are at play at a gothic mansion. Fear not, Wickie helps ease any tension. In his first interaction with Creek, Reverend Wilkie talks non-stop, doing nothing to hide his fanboy heart. Then he accidentally swallows some buttons during a magic act attempt. “All is not lost. You will get them back, I promise.” Solve the case on BritBox.
Willow (1988) & (2022)
The original 1988 movie sees Willow Ufgood (Davis) struggling with his place in the world. He’s loyal and brave, continuing on the journey to return baby Elora. This means he must leave behind his family and home. A reluctant decision, but he is a true hero. The 2022 Disney+ series returns to the sword and sorcery world with a younger cast. An older and wiser Willow isn’t left out, he returns to help again. In a sweet, creative touch, Davis’ own daughter Annabelle Davis plays his on-screen daughter. With gray to his hair, Davis remains wrestling with self-doubts. Inspired by Mark Hamill’s grittier Luke, Davis gives his own take without completely leaving out his past jovial self. After all this, Willow is more snippy and sarcastic. Watch both the movie and the show on Disney+.