Few people have been involved in Star Wars as long as Warwick Davis. He famously played Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi, returned in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and has had multiple cameos in all four Disney entries. Considering before traveling to Endor he was a die-hard fan, it's pretty much a dream come true (and that's before we get on his work in Harry Potter and beyond).
He was most recently seen in Solo: A Star Wars Story reprising the role of Weazel from The Phantom Menace. When Screen Rant sat down with Davis to discuss his role in the latest spinoff movie, we discovered how he became such a dependable recurring aspect of the franchise, just how many parts he's played, and where he wants to see Star Wars go next - professionally and personally.
I wanted to start with how you are in all the new Disney Star Wars movies. It's a great little recurring thing, you being in them. How do these come about - when they're writing the script, are you in mind for a role straight away - and when do you get involved in the whole process?
It started with Episode 7 and J.J. [Abrams] asked me to come in and be a part of it. But I probably... I've been dropping hints for quite a while anyway so I guess somebody had their ears out on that. "Better put Warwick in it". I don't know, it's nice to be involved, and since then there's quite a close-knit group of people who go from one film to the next. There's a lot of puppeteers and creature performers in particular who do that because, honestly, in each film we can be made to look different and the characters we perform are very different. So I'm kind of swept along with those fantastic performers as well, and then sometimes, depending on who's writing or who's directing, they'll come up with specific things that they particularly think I would be good for. And that's what I end up doing, which is really fantastic. I love it.
It's always great to try and spot you. And, speaking of spotting you in there, I saw Jon Kasdan talked about you being on the set of Solo and in the movie elsewhere - involved in a lot of parts. I wonder if you could elaborate on that.
Yeah, I mean I was in the movie quite a bit. The character Weazel had my... revealing that it was actually me in the flesh as it were, and it eclipsed all of the other characters in the end. I was wrapped up quite in a fair [number of] performances in the film. I was DD-BD, the droid who is first released by L3 in the droid control room. I was also another droid in that control room who gets released and goes a bit crazy, whacking his tray - he's like a Gonk droid so he's whacking a tray along the consoles. I was a party droid in the tavern, just before the Sabacc game - I get actually destroyed in there, quite nicely. I was also watching the Sabacc game as that hamster-like alien character - it's a bit like a chinchilla, actually. And, what else was I? And I was, of course, Weazel in two different guises. But, you know, often I'm playing different characters within the same scenes, so I jump out of one and into another, and sometimes my daughter Annabelle, who's also an actor, she would then take over in the character I was doing so I could jump into the other one. So we sort of tag team on quite a few of these sometimes, when I couldn't do both at the same time.
And then, in Corellia, I was a spaceman. I literally look like a little astronaut. I got to ride on one of those... I think you see them in A New Hope first, those little vehicles they drive around the docking bay area, they recreated those for Solo and I got to drive around on one of those which was quite fun. What else did I do? I think that was all of them. There was another one we didn't use in the end as well. Sometimes there've been characters... the spaceman I play on Corellia, he was originally down to be in Rogue One, but he never got on screen, so what we did, we just augmented costume very slightly to make it fit in with the world of Solo, and they used it there. Which is great.
Read More: Warwick Davis Played SIX Characters In Solo
That's a lot of movie - if you go through, you must be in a high percentage of it.
Did you do stuff with Lord & Miller or Ron Howard, or only one of those?
I worked throughout the film, basically. On and off.
With Weazel, he's a bit of loaded character because he was in The Phantom Menace at the Podrace. Did you approach that character differently, knowing you've played him before, although it was twenty years earlier in the timeline? Did you bring anything in from how you approached in 1999?
Yeah, well I kind of did. It sounds a little bit pretentious as an actor to say, but I think being a fan of the movies, I love that idea of a character spanning across films because there's this period between that exactly matches my age to the age of [Weazel], it matches the story time between that film and Solo. I mean everything is kind of right with it. I like to think that, what did he get up to in the meantime. Because he was a bit of gambler, wasn't he? With Jabba there and watching the Podrace, all of that stuff with Watto. And I thought, did he get into some really bad stuff there and then saw the error of his ways and something made him join this band of Enfys Nest and try and fight for a cause? And it'd be interesting to see what happened there. But I did think all of this through, because I wanted to figure out where he was in his mind at that point in Solo when we meet him again. I love doing it, I mean it's great. Especially when I get a character that has a gun the size of that one - it's ridiculous.
What's exciting on these films is you get the costume and stuff, and they bring in the props you're going to have. Belts and various other accessories, transmitting things and all that stuff. I remember getting the helmet from the guys that made those and it had the little... I don't know whether they call it a viewfinder, but like Boba Fett on his helmet?
It has one of them. That was exciting to me initially. "Ah, cool. I got one of these." Then they bring in the various weapons and they say, "which blaster would you like? You get a choice." I was... I don't, that's ridiculous, look at the size of this one. So I picked it up and it was literally as tall as I was. And they go, "do you like that one?" And I got, well it's crazy though, isn't it? And they were like, "it'll work." I kinda regret choosing it because I didn't realize at the time that the one that I picked up was a sort of rubber version for stuntwork and stuff, but then there was also a real version that was made of metal and literally you could barely lift it. So I had to... I had a few shots where I had the real one. So that's why I stand there with it beside me, resting on the ground, because it's almost impossible to lift up.
You've brought back one character. Are there any other characters you've played in the Star Wars universe that you'd like to bring in a future movie, TV show or any form - animated even?
You know what? I really love Weeteef Cyubee [from Rogue One]. I thought he was cool, he looks fantastic. We did shoot more stuff, as with all of these of these films you shoot so much more stuff than ever makes it into the movie, especially with Gareth Edwards - he would shoot in a very unique way where stuff was kind of almost improvised, but you never knew quite when he was shooting and when he wasn't, so you just kept doing stuff just in case he was rolling at that time. I remember doing a really long take and thinking, really getting to the mindset of this character, what he's doing at that point. I could definitely do more of him. Although it was a really challenging performance because I couldn't see anything - all of my vision was given to me into my ear by a puppeteer who was guiding me around the set and also controlling my eyes and my mouth. So, yeah, it was a little bit difficult, but it allows you to find such a way so you go very internal with the thoughts of the character, and then the performance just happens on the outside. It's really quite a fascinating process. So, yes, I'd like to see more of him, definitely.
You are so obviously a fan, you have been for a long. And as a fan, you're getting to be in these movies, but you're also getting to see Star Wars return along with everyone else. Just on a pure fan level, where would you like to see Star Wars head from here? We're heading into Star Wars 9 which is going to end the Skywalker Saga and the Star Wars Stories are just setting off. Where would you like to see the entire series go from now?
I'm excited to see how the conclusion of Skywalker Saga happens. I'm really excited, along with everyone else to find out what happens. I'm really enjoying the Star Wars Stories. I find them really fascinating. For me they just... because they're told as single stories and not normally as a trilogy like we've been used to, I feel like there's a density to them and a pace to them that we don't always have to hit with the Saga films because we have another movie to tell... we've got three films to stretch the story across. So I do like the immediacies of them. I love the links as well. We saw it with Rogue One, the way that it joined into A New Hope, which was brilliant. And seeing certain events from another perspective, and all of that stuff. So, Solo was again was about learning about this character, certainly one of my favorite characters, and just see what led him to become the person we knew and loved from Saga films, I thought that was really quite interesting. And I think they're very accessible as well. The standalone Story films are films that you don't have to have seen any other Star Wars movies, you don't have to know a huge amount about Star Wars, but you can still really enjoy these films.
And then you're going to ask which characters now, aren't you.
Well, yeah - which would you like to see solo films for?
The rumors are about... there's an Obi-Wan rumor, a Boba Fett rumor for years. Are these the most interesting characters, are these the ones we want to know more about? I don't know. What would it be for me personally?
I don't know really. There's so many characters in the movies. I'm trying to think one I've played that I want to know more about. I think Weazel: A Star Wars Story, there you go.
And looking forward, next up is Star Wars 9. Do you expect to be involved in it?
Who knows? I just kind of have to wait for the phone call. I'm excited along with millions of other fans to find out the conclusion of this Saga. I mean, it spans - when did we start - 1977 right the way through to now. It's epic in every sense of the word. J.J. is the most fantastic director. I enjoyed working with his the first time I worked with him on Episode 7. So I'm excited to see what he brings to this final chapter in the Skywalker Saga. What's lovely about it, it's not closing the door on Star Wars. A lot of movies, you say it's the final chapter and all of this stuff and we'd be going "aw, that's a shame". But we know that's there's the potential for much more Star Wars out there yet. So it's a good time to be a Star Wars fan, isn't it?
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019