a career spanning more than 20 years, Warwick, at three feet six
inches tall, has appeared in some of the most popular movies of
all time, including 'Star Wars: Return of the Jedi', 'Willow'
and the 'Leprechaun' movies. He's also appeared in the blockbusting
'Harry Potter' films and several high-profile TV adverts
Warwick's career as an actor came about purely by chance. In 1981,
his grandmother heard a radio announcement calling for people under
four feet tall to appear in the new Star Wars film, 'Return of
explains, "I got my break into this business through my height.
I was 11 years old, I was only two feet eleven inches at that time
and my grandmother heard that they were looking for small people
to be in the new 'Star Wars' film. I went to the studios with my
mum and was immediately measured up for a costume. I didn't have
to audition, so I got that role based purely on my size."
In this first role he was picked out by director George Lucas to
take a more prominent role and his career took off from there -
a toy figure was even made of his character in the film.
cast as a background artist, his gestures were so characteristic
of George Lucas's vision of an Ewok, that he was recast as 'Wicket'
who became one of the film's lead creature characters. "I based
Wicket's inquisitive nature and movements on my pet dog" he
Warwick certainly hasn't relied on his size to get roles. "I
would have made a mistake if I’d have said I’m short so I can be
an actor" he says. "I didn’t rely on the fact that I was
short. I started acting classes, took exams and got training, so
that instead of being known as somebody short who does films, hopefully
I’m now known as an actor who just happens to be short."
height has been a real gift to him in his profession as there are
a lot of films around at the moment that require an actor of his
stature. "The majority of the roles that I've ever had have been
in the fantasy, science fiction genres" he says, "and
we're currently seeing a resurgence of that kind of film. It last
happened in the 80s and now there is a new generation of children
who are looking out for this kind of entertainment."
was there a moment in time when he realised that he wasn't going
to grow any more? "There was never a specific moment in my childhood
when it struck me that I was short" he says, "it is something
that I’ve always lived with and have kind of grown into. Even today
it’s not something I think about until someone actually reminds
me of it. To be any other way now would be most odd and a bit uninteresting!"
rise to stardom sounds like a fantasy in itself and Warwick admits
that he has been very fortunate. "It was a lot of luck, both in
the way that my grandmother heard the commercial, then in the way
that it developed" he says. "I formed a good relationship
with George Lucas... and he asked me to come back to play the same
Ewok character in two television movies. It just kept on snowballing
from that point."
the success of 'Return of the Jedi' and the two TV movies, he appeared
alongside David Bowie in the fantasy film 'Labyrinth' in
played a goblin in the film and of the experience he says, "you
have to be fairly quick to spot which one’s me because there are
40 or so other goblins there, but it was fantastic and David is
a really nice guy - very down to earth."
from behind the mask
In 1987, Warwick was called to Elstree Studios to meet with Ron
Howard and George Lucas about a new project called 'Willow'
that was written specifically with him in mind.
was the first opportunity that he had to show that his acting talent
extended beyond the portrayal of strange creatures. Now out of the
creature costumes that he usually wore, he was able to depict real
was a definite change in angle for me in my career" he says.
"It presented a whole new set of challenges for me as a performer
because when you’re inside a mask and a big heavy costume, you exaggerate
all of your movement so that the emotion has to get through all
of that. When they took that away I had to tone everything right
down because the slightest movement of an eyebrow or a cheek can
say volumes on the big screen."
'Willow' he was soon back in front of the camera, this time for
the small screen. He was cast in two series of the BBC's 'The
Chronicles of Narnia' playing the swashbuckling mouse Reepicheep
in 'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader' and Glimfeather the Owl in 'The
In 1992, Warwick starred in a film that has achieved true cult status.
In the film 'Leprechaun', which has prompted no less that
FIVE sequels, he features as the little green menace who will stop
at nothing to get his gold. Up to this point, Warwick had always
been cast as the 'goodie' and so was thrilled to learn that this
leprechaun was the 'baddie'. "It is every actor's dream to
play an evil character, a part to really get your thespian teeth
into" he says.
an acting standpoint I jumped at the opportunity to do this film
because unless you diversify you can be pigeonholed and I wanted
to show that I was a fairly diverse actor."
to Star Wars
Since then, he has appeared as Grildrig in 'Gulliver's Travels'
on US television, as Lucky the Leprechaun in 'A Very Unlucky
Leprechaun' and made a return to the Star Wars project in 1997,
playing no less than four roles in 'Episode One - The Phantom
Menace' even though it meant his face would be hidden again.
"I'm not going to turn down a role if it’s back behind a mask
again - I love acting" he says.
during the making of this film, Lucas recognised that he had covered
Warwick up again and this led to the actor taking on a number of
filming George kind of felt bad that he’d put me back inside a mask"
he says. So the director asked him to be a spectator during the
pod race and in the back of another scene, both without masks!
also played the famous Jedi master Yoda for scenes where the character
was required to walk. "A little bit of star wars trivia that the
fans enjoy" he jokes...
in 'Murder Rooms'
Rid Of Your Gremlins
remains extremely busy and in the past few years has been seen in
'The 10th Kingdom', 'The Fitz', 'Murder Rooms -
The Kingdom of Bones' and several TV adverts.
was proud to have been a part in the government's campaign to encourage
adults with literacy and maths difficulties to enrol on courses...
the pesky grey gremlin was a memorable character in the 'Get
Rid Of Your Gremlins' campaign!
also plays a gnome in the adverts for 'Top Up TV'.
Peterborough to Potter!
His latest, and probably his most high profile role recently is
that of the Hogwart's School's Charms' Master, Professor Flitwick
in 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban'. He played
the same role in the first and second of J.K. Rowling's blockbuster
books, 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' and 'Harry
Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban'.
Flitwick is "a fabulous character" he says, "probably
my favourite character to date actually." He says that he was
very nervous at the audition because he really wanted to do it.
"I had to wait three weeks to find out" he says, "and
it was the most agonising time."
is pleased to be able to use his role in this top film to help unlock
the secrets of the acting world to youngsters. He is more than happy
touring schools and playgroups answering the many questions that
the children have for him.
best thing about my role is being able to bring a smile to the faces
of so many children. Professor Flitwick is a great character to
play" he says. "It's great to be able to answer the questions
But filming Harry Potter is not as glamorous as fans of the film
might think. He says that a normal working day can last up to 18
hours but longer if the weather is bad. Which, let's face it, is
quite likely! But it's not just the filming that takes a long time.
It takes nearly four hours a day for the intricate Professor Flitwick
make-up to be applied!
is long and hard" he says "Sometimes I commute from Peterborough,
other times I stay in London. It does take its toll on family life.
But every time I’m in London I realise why I haven’t moved there
and it’s quite accessible from here. It’s really not neccessary
as an actor to live there. A lot of the time you are on location
throughout the country anyway and Peterborough is fairly central
life in film has led to many other things as well, including a successful
business, friendships and love!
There were 40 or 50 short people in 'Star Wars' from this country
alone and the same people tend to turn up on the same film sets
so you make lots of friends! One of them is his father in law and
with him he formed an agency for short actors called Willow Management.
"I now represent all those people that I grew up working with"
is also married to a small person. He met his wife Samantha in Cambridge
in 1988 while they were both working in Snow White at the Arts Theatre.
They have a daughter Annabel who is also small. The family go on
location with him as much as they can and his daughter loves 'Harry
Potter'. She doesn't see her father as being Professor Flitwick
though. "I'm just dad who dresses up silly" he says.
what of the future? "At my age I still don’t feel I've achieved
quite enough, I strive for perfection in performance." he explains.
"You never know what's coming up" he says, "every day
is an adventure."