Celebrity Interview - Warwick Davis
PUBLISHED: 00:00 08 December 2014
Warwick Davis both directs and stars in Snow White at the Opera House in Manchester this Christmas. We caught up to learn more about this very busy man.
The first thing that strikes you about Warwick Davis is his sheer vitality. From the moment he leans forward to shake your hand, you are drawn into his aura. This isn’t a term you’ll hear me use often, it resonates too much of wishy-washy (no, not a panto pun) airy-fairy new age fuzziness. But if a man could be said to have an aura, it’s Warwick. Positively fizzing with energy, it takes but one simple question to have him pour information, opinion and humour straight at you. It was as much as I could do to keep up.
Warwick’s career is well-documented online, from his first roles in Star Wars’ Return of the Jedi to Willow to The Phantom Menace and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and every single Harry Potter movie, he has built an impressive CV. It is his more recent roles on British television however that have allowed us to see the man behind the prosthetics.
‘Doing something like Celebrity Squares is the easiest thing in the world,’ he laughs. ‘I just have to be me!’
Chatty, funny, empathetic and charming, all these things come across strongly on screen and in reality, indeed, his success at ‘being me’ has led to discussions about his doing his own television talk show, which could be coming to your small screens soon.
Less easy is taking on the role of Director at a major theatre in a major show, but he’s well aware of the challenges he faces.
‘My first memory of theatre is the bright, loud, colourful excitement of it. The emotions triggered watching a theatre show trigger lasting memories. This puts a lot of pressure on the cast of any show, and in a pantomime it’s huge, as for many children in the audience it’s their first ever experience of live theatre. I have no illusions about the competition we’re up against; the quality and variety of home entertainment is like never before, so theatre must up its game.
‘Our Snow White is a West End quality show presented in the lovely environment of Manchester Opera House. It’s a great canvas, now we need to put on a great show. The role of director is kind of like that of a conductor: I bring all the threads together.’
Also starring with Warwick is the gorgeous Priscilla Presley, who Warwick directed in her first pantomime in Wimbledon last year.
‘She’s a delight to work with,’ he says. ‘She’s so softly spoken and gentle. Last year she came to me very concerned that the audience was boo-ing her character, as Snow White’s Wicked Stepmother. I had to reassure her that this was a good thing!’
With Warwick’s career as full as it is and no sign of easing off, I wonder why he puts himself through the pain of being away from home and performing 11 shows a week.
‘I do it because I feel passionate about theatre,’ he says. ‘I was three months on the road with The Reduced Height Theatre Company (founded by Warwick and starring only short actors) and it was hard, but nothing beats being on stage in front of a live audience. Yes, it takes me away from my family, but they will join me in Manchester for Christmas.
‘The spirit in theatre at Christmas is unique. The auditorium atmosphere is unlike any other time of year. There are times when I ask myself what was I thinking, but as soon as I step out on stage it’s all worth it.’
Warwick Davis and Priscilla Presley star in Snow White at Manchester’s Opera House from 5 December to 4 January