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Interview with Warwick Davis

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HBO

Things seem to be looking up for Warwick. How has he changed since we last saw him?

Warwick Davis

He's looked back and realized that he comes across as not a particularly nice person. He's starting to see the errors of his ways a little bit; he's trying to do the right things. Also, his relationship with Amy is going quite well, and she's starting to be an influence in his life. One bit of advice she's given him is that if you're nicer to people then you get that back as well. It becomes self-perpetuating. He's set out to do that, and that's where we pick him up.

HBO

Why continue the story in a one-off special?

Warwick Davis

A lot of it has to do with time, to be honest. Making a series is a long process that lasts well beyond the filming of it. On either side, there are several months of writing or editing. It becomes quite a big time commitment for [executive producers] Ricky [Gervais] and Stephen [Merchant]. This way, it was nice and finite. We also all enjoyed having the time to tell the story. It's almost like making a mini-film, in a way.

HBO

And why center the story around three somewhat random personalitiesKeith Chegwin, Les Dennis and Shaun Williamson?

Warwick Davis

It is fairly random, but one thing they all have in common is that they've all worked with Ricky and Stephen before in 'Extras.' They're drawing on the backstory of their own personal lives and careers. There was once huge success for these guys, and now they're in the twilight of their careers. In the U.K., they're legendary figures in a cult hero type of way. We like to celebrate the underdogs, and that's what we're doing with these guys. With Warwick helping to resurrect their careers, their backstory feeds very nicely into the show. And what's lovely about people having a backstory already is that you don't have waste time explaining or creating all that. It already exists.

HBO

Did you think there was a need to explain who they were?

Warwick Davis

There is a brief synopsis of them in the show, since you mustn't presume everybody's seen everything. Ricky once said to me, in any humor you do, don't make it too topical. Otherwise, in years to come people won't have any clue what it's about. It's like how comedians do a joke about the pope. Universally, everyone knows the pope, and in 20 years, the pope will still mean something to people.

HBO

It does at times feel very British. Do you worry at all about leaving American audiences in the dark?

Warwick Davis

We do sometimes shoot alternative versions of a scene, because we understand that there are some references that don't carry through. There was a bit with my psychic advisor in the last series, where he named one of his other clients. Then we shot another version of it for the American audience where he named somebody else.

HBO

One of the Americans in this special, Val Kilmer, is something of a foil. How did he get involved?

Warwick Davis

Val had mentioned to Stephen that he wanted get involved with one of his projects. He and Ricky get that all the time; there are celebrities queuing up to have fun poked at them. But with Val, it worked well with the story. The fact that Willow' is discussed quite a lot in the first series, it seemed like a natural cameo. He wasn't just in it for the sake of it.

HBO

Was there ever really any talk about doing a Willow 2?'

Warwick Davis

There's all sorts of talk about it. Not just the fans, but Ron Howard and George Lucas have spoken about it too. Val and I spoke about it quite a lot while we were filming, which became life imitating art because I wasn't sure if he was serious or not. You look now at what's being made, and there are so many reboots and sequels to films from the '80s, which is when many of the best films were made.

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HBO

Did Val enjoy playing a villainous version of himself?

Warwick Davis

Oh, absolutely. Actors love to give the audience a perception of their personality that isn't necessarily the right one. Often what Ricky and Stephen will do in their writing is create a character as they're perceived by the general public. They'll heighten the perceptions that are out there in the press. Val relished it.

HBO

One actor who isn't playing herself is Rosamund Hanson, Warwick's oblivious secretary, Cheryl. What is it like playing scenes with her?

Warwick Davis

You never quite know where you are with Rosamund. She plays it so brilliantly that I can't tell if she's being Rosamund or Cheryl. If you remember the scene when she's talking about the cloning of pets, there are some brilliant outtakes, because Rosamund didn't quite understand the concept of what she was talking about. You never quite know what's going to come out of her mouth.

HBO

The end of the special reaffirms Warwick's de facto leadership of the little people in his agency. Do you ever feel that way?

Warwick Davis

I don't put myself in that position, but people do sometimes look to me in that way. I'm actually right now at a Little People of America conference. I'm not here as a speaker or anything, but being on TV and in films, there's sometimes an expectation that I'm a spokesman for little people. And with that, there's a conscience; I need to be conscious about how we're portrayed. Certainly in 'Life's Too Short,' we want to fully explore the comedy, but at the same time, you want the portrayal to reflect real life situations.

HBO

What kind of feedback do you get?

Warwick Davis

It resonates with them. They've experienced the things that Warwick experiences. And it helps that he's a real person too. He goes through all the issues that other people in life have. He's going through a divorce. He has tax problems. He makes little people real people.

HBO

Are there any plans to revisit this "Warwick" or is this the end of his story?

Warwick Davis

I wouldn't rule out anything. We might see more specials in the future and get another glimpse into his life a few years down the line.

HBO

How are you different from Warwick?

Warwick Davis

I have a slightly smaller ego than he has. Getting recognized is very flattering, but it's not something I seek out. Also, I'm very happily married and have two kids and my taxes are all in order. But what was nice about playing the character is that it's liberating to do and say things that you'd never normally - it's fun being an idiot.

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