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Sunday 4 December 2016

Warwick Davis hails changing attitude to dwarfism

Published 12/06/2016 | 00:06

Warwick Davis said he had noticed a shift in the parts he was being offered
Warwick Davis said he had noticed a shift in the parts he was being offered

Warwick Davis has praised the acting world's changing attitude to dwarfism.

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The Harry Potter star, who was born with a rare form of dwarfism called Spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita, said he had noticed a shift in the parts he was being offered.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, he said: "The work that I'm offered now, scripts come through and there's no mention of this character in the script being short or any reason for him to be short. They are just interested in offering 'Warwick Davis the actor' a part.

"It's lovely to be thought of in that way, and I think it's also a testament to society now and the way things are changing that people see beyond somebody's physical appearance."

The 46-year-old added: "There was a point in my career where people would be taking pictures and I wasn't quite sure whether I was being recognised or whether it was because I was short.

"And now I know that, hopefully 100% of the time, people are taking a picture because they recognise me."

Davis got his first break playing an Ewok in Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi at the age of just 11 - a hugely exciting role as he was already a major fan of the movie franchise.

He told Kirsty Young: " Going to see the film had a huge impact on me as a seven-year-old. At that point I didn't know that it was going to become a huge part of my life and career, and it shapes everything I still do to this day."

It was Davis's grandmother who heard a casting call on the radio from Lucasfilm. The film company was looking for short people to cast in the next Star Wars.

The actor recalled: "S he didn't immediately tell my mum about this because she was worried she might offend her by saying, 'They need short people and I thought of Warwick,' so she held on to this information for days.

"Eventually she did call my mum, who immediately called the studios. and they said, 'Well we've got everyone we need, we were immediately inundated with calls.'

"I really to this day don't know what my mum said to them, but they agreed to meet me, and just a couple of weeks later, in the January of 1981, I found myself on the set of Return Of The Jedi alongside my on-screen heroes. It was mind-blowing for an 11-year-old."

The actor picked the Return Of The Jedi theme song as one of his desert island discs, alongside tracks including the Monty Python song Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life and Paul Young's Every Time You Go Away.

Davis also starred alongside the late David Bowie in Labyrinth, in which the musician played Jareth the Goblin King.

He recalled: "H e was amazing, but so down-to-earth and so ordinary. He would come on to set and obviously in L abyrinth he was dressed in a brilliant costume and very extravagant sort of 80s big hair, so he made quite an impression.

"But underneath all of that was quite an ordinary chap called Dave."

:: Desert Island Discs airs on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday at 11.15am.

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