Harry Potter's Warwick Davis on Wand Choreography, George Lucas and What He Won't Miss About Potter
Even though you may not immediately recognize the name Warwick Davis, you are familiar with his work. That's because the English actor has been involved with two of the most storied franchises in all of film history -- the first being Star Wars, where Davis made his onscreen debut as Wicket in Return of the Jedi at the tender age of 13. Nearly three decades (and title roles in Willow and the six-part Leprechaun series) later, Davis helps close the door on the Harry Potter franchise, where he has played Hogwarts charms master Professor Flitwick and Gringotts goblin Griphook for 10 years.
In celebration of the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2 home release this past weekend, Movieline sat down with Davis at Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando to discuss his fear of roller coasters, his favorite scene with Daniel Radclife and the one thing he will not miss about recreating J.K. Rowling's magical world for the movies.
Have you been on all of the Harry Potter rides yet?
The thing is, I don't like roller coasters, but I had no excuse. We were here for the [park] opening last year, and some first-grade students had won the opportunity to come here and ride the Flight of the Hippogriff with the Harry Potter cast. As soon as I heard that, I said, "That's great, but it's such a shame. I'm too short for [the ride]." That's my excuse for these rides -- I just say I'm too short. They said, "No, look!" They stood me next to the height chart and I was indeed taller and they said, "You can ride." I went on with a first grader and I was screaming like a little girl and she was just enjoying it, looking at me like, "Why is he so afraid?" The Wizarding World for me is just a nice place to walk around without going on all of the rides. It's just a really intriguing, fun place to immerse yourself in the world of Harry Potter.
How did you feel after leaving the Harry Potter world for good once production on Deathly Hallows wrapped?
I was sad it was all over. It's an odd thing that we aren't going back there again to do any more movies, because you kind of took it for granted each year. Now that it's all over, it is a bit odd. At the same time, you have a sense of achievement and accomplishment that you've been part of these eight movies and you can be proud of the fact that these were the very best movies you could make. That's a nice feeling. What's lovely is that in London, Warner Bros. Studios is going to open the doors so that people can see all of the sets and all of the things we were privileged to work in the last 10 years. The legacy continues.
Unlike the other actors in this series, you got to be play several different characters. Was that fun as an actor or more of a hassle because of the makeup involved?
Great fun! I owe a great deal to the makeup department because they transformed me. I am obviously too good-looking for these films, so they had to cover me in rubber and glue. But it allowed me to play all of these different characters. In the last film, I played Professor Flitwick and Griphook, two very different characters. It's always a compliment when someone says, "I didn't know you played Griphook as well." That's great for me because I wasn't spotted. It's incredibly gratifying though and it was really a team effort from a lot of different people from the people in the design to the people who mold the prosthetics to the people who paint them. There are a lot of different people who come together. I'm just the foundation for that, but I feel incredibly privileged that I was able to go in front of the camera and show it all off.
What won't you miss about Harry Potter?
Sitting in the makeup chair at about 4 a.m. on a cold December morning in the U.K. and having someone apply glue to your face. Glue, because it has solvent in it, is about the temperature -- I can't describe it but it's just very, very cold, especially at that time in the morning. The smell too -- it's actually making me feel quite ill just talking about it. I won't miss any of that. I'll miss the people, but not the glue and the silicone rubber.
When I spoke to David Yates, he mentioned that there were some moments on set during Deathly Hallows that were so moving that everyone on set, including the crew, stopped what they were doing and became emotional. Do you recall any moments like that on set?
Well, I loved playing the scene with Daniel at the beginning of Deathly Hallows -- Part 2 in Shell Cottage. That was a lovely scene to play because it was just 1:1 -- no explosions, no wands, just two people trying to psych each other out. David described it as a game of poker. The moment when Voldemort pronounces Harry dead -- that was an amazing scene for everyone on set. The courtyard was full. It was as you see it in the film, which is what was amazing about filming Harry Potter. There is not a lot of green screen. They build the sets complete. There are all of the Death Eaters and everything you see onscreen -- it exists for us as actors. So seeing Voldemort walk out in front of that army and pronounce Harry dead, it sends a shiver when you are standing there. That was a moment that I read in the book and then remember thinking [on set], "Wow, I'm here. This is happening." It's really cool.
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