After a 34-year wait, Warwick Davis is back as Willow, the unlikely sorcerer charged with saving his mystical world from an ancient evil that threatens to rise once more.
“It was really cool going back to the character again,” smiles Davis, now 52 and back in Willow’s world. “Once you play a character, he’s within you and becomes part of who you are - and Willow was always in me.”
Willow is streaming on Disney+ from 30 November.
SIMON BLAND: How liberating was it to explore these new areas of the character because he's a different person to when we last met him?
WARWICK DAVIS: It was really good because, yeah, lot's happened to Willow since the end of the film. His life has been turned upside down by several events. Some of them quite challenging. And so I, kind of, leaned into the real-life experiences I've had since the end of the film and the fact that I'm a lot older now. Instead of fighting those things, I thought, no, I'm just going to go with who I am now and bring those experiences to the character, which I think helps because you see a real kind of weight and there's a lot more gravitas to Willow now.
SIMON BLAND: Another element to him which I love is there's a lot of humor in the character and I'm wondering, how fun was it to lean into that?
WARWICK DAVIS: I was so encouraged by Jon Kasdan. For him, do you remember my series "Life's Too Short" with Ricky Gervais?
SIMON BLAND: Yeah, of course.
WARWICK DAVIS: And the more "Life's Too Short" we can make this, the better because he's a massive fan of the series. So he wanted to bring that out in "Willow," which was weird for me because I was so used to playing the character in more of a straight way. Then when he said, no, you can be as, kind of, broad as you want with this to be funnier, and encouraged improvisation, and ad-libbing of scenes.
Many writers are like, you must do what I've written. I spent time on this, say that as I've written it. And he didn't care. He would just say, no, just go with what you think you want to say here. Let's have some fun, which I think was great.
Took me a while to get used to that kind of way of working. I wanted to be true to the character and what we'd done before, but he said, no, this is better. And as you pointed out, you know, it is fun.
It was really cool coming back to the character again. Once you play a character, he's, kind of, within you. It becomes part of who you are in a sense. Now character Willow was always in me. And ongoing into the series project, Ron Howard said to me, he said, you had great instincts when we did the film, just use those instincts when you come to do the series. Listen to the director, but often go with what you feel is right for the character.