Surrey Occasions speaks to actor, Warwick Davis, about his Surrey roots and his role as ‘Prof’ in Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs Panto at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking
Warwick Davis’ mum didn’t have big acting ambitions for her young son when she sent him the The Laine Theatre Arts School in Epsom. She simply wanted him to burn off some energy.
“I had a lot of energy and enthusiasm as a child and my mum needed to channel that,” says Warwick. “She sent me to Laine Theatre Arts as a way letting me vent off that enthusiasm. Little did she know that it would put me in good shape for a career.”
“When you are very short in life you tend to turn up the volume on your personality and your voice,” he adds. You’re funnier, you’re louder. You are trying to be bigger than you actually are and that in turn made me a bit of a performer.”
Going to Espom every Saturday was the highlight of Warwick’s week – but that wasn’t entirely down to drama school. “Epsom High Street had at the time just opened a new branch of McDonalds,” says Warwick. “We are talking the early 80s, so McDonalds had just come to the UK, so being able to going there after drama class was a really big deal.”
It wasn’t long before Warwick left some of the delights of a regular childhood behind, as by the age of eleven he had got his first role in George Lucas’s Return of the Jedi. The role came about after his grandmother heard a radio announcement calling for people under four feet tall to appear in the new ‘Star Wars’ film. “I was a massive fan anyway so for me personally it was probably the best possible thing that could happen to an 11 year-old.”
Warwick’s gestures were so characteristic of George Lucas’ vision of an Ewok, that he was recast as ‘Wicket’, who became one of the film’s lead creature characters. Two year’s later he appeared in the title role of Willow, written specifically with Warwick in mind. He has of course gone on to star in all subsequent Star Wars films, as well as the Harry Potter series of movies as well as TV roles such as Life’s Too Short and Idiot Abroad 3.
This winter he is back in Surrey playing ‘Prof’ in the New Victoria Theatre, Woking’s production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. But what will he bring to the role? “My Prof will be a a bit like Captain Mainwaring of Dad’s Army,” says Warwick. “He has a lot of pomp about about him as he likes to think he’s in charge – but of course, he’s not really.”
Warwick has been doing panto since 1988 and is really looking forward to performing on stage. “There’s nothing nicer than jumping up on that stage and doing a bit of live theatre. It makes you disciplined again. When doing TV and film work, you can become a bit lazy, as you always have a chance to do another take. So it doesn’t matter if you don’t get it right first time. On stage, you walk out there and have to deliver that performance perfectly, the first time and the second time. And that is what is so exciting about it.”
You can see Warwick as ‘Prof’ in Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs from Saturday 10 December 2016 – Sunday 8 January 2017 at the New Victoria Theatre Woking. To book visit: atgtickets.com