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Warwick Davis

“Merchant has a much harder time than I do”

Warwick Davis
07 November 2011

Warwick Davis has had an enviable career. Making his film debut in Return Of The Jedi, the actor, 41, has since starred in Willow, the Chronicles Of Narnia franchise and all eight Harry Potter films. But his latest character is far closer to reality — a twisted version of himself in Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s new close-to-the-bone mockumentary series Life’s Too Short.

Who came up with the concept for the show?

A lot of people wanted to do a documentary about my life. I didn’t want to. I thought it was the wrong thing to do. Then I thought maybe I should produce it myself, so I had some control.

You’re playing a fictional version of yourself, though…

I started to think about people’s perception of celebrity — that it involves living in mansions and getting divorced. I thought it’d be great to twist the idea, and it began sounding like more of a comedy. I had Ricky’s number, so I spoke to him about it, and he said, “Let’s write it.”

How much input did you have into the writing of the show?

I didn’t write with them, but we talked about my life experiences as a little person. For example, my wife is quite short, and when I’m in a shop the assistant might say, “Your wife is over there.” And I’ll say, “How do you know?” In Life’s Too Short, the Warwick Davis character doesn’t take it as well as I do.

How fictional is he?

The only thing we share is my career, my height and my voice. I don’t share any of his personality traits. He has a chip on his shoulder, small-man complex. He’s egotistical and fame-hungry. He’s all the things that I’m not.

Do you find it uncomfortable when people are trying too hard not to say anything about your height?

The more people try not to talk about it, the more they do. People overuse words such as ‘short’ and ‘size’ in conversation. They’ll say things like “I was dwarfed by it” [laughs]. And you can see it in their face when they realise. I know when it’s happening and I feel for them. I’d probably do the same.

Did you find anything in the show too offensive?

No I didn’t. People have already made a judgement on the series because Ricky is involved and the subject is a dwarf. If you look at the way they have handled disability in their past work, like in The Office, they’ve actually won awards. It helps raise public awareness in such a positive way.

Do you think little people will like it?

Yeah, because he’s a character at the end of the day, he doesn’t represent how any little person is. Does the portrayal of a murderer in a detective drama suddenly make everybody think of average-size people in a different way?

Do you ever take the mickey out of Stephen Merchant for being tall?

He bangs his head a lot, so I do feel sorry for him. He has a much harder time than I do. I don’t think I made fun of him. I mean, we’re quite the trio: if we all stand in a row it’s like the evolution of man.

There are some great cameos from the likes of Liam Neeson and Johnny Depp. Was there anyone else who you’d have loved in it?

Chevy Chase is a comic hero of mine, but whether his place is in Life’s Too Short, I don’t know.

How about your Return Of The Jedi co-stars?

Mark Hamill gets a lot of mentions…

Talking of Star Wars, what do you think of the changes on the new Blu-ray discs?

I know that the Ewoks now blink, which is a nice addition. When I first played Wicket the only thing I could do was put my tongue out. Audiences now expect a lot more from a character. We’re spoilt with all these lifelike CGI creatures, so a blink could really make a difference, especially for a younger generation. I think it’s OK to add stuff, but I know a lot of the fans don’t.

Do you have any burning ambitions?

I would love my own talk show. I’ve had that ambition for 10 years now.

Do you have a title for it?

‘Small Talk’. A Friday night slot on BBC One at 10pm would be lovely. I don’t ask for much, do I?

A Jonathan Ross-sized salary?

I would do it for the love.

Life’s Too Short begins on 10 November, 9.30pm on BBC Two

Image: Getty