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Dissecting Actor Warwick Davis!

03.17.2015by: Jake Dee

ACTOR WARWICK DAVIS!

Happy St. Patrick's Day my fair friends, here's to flying three sheets to the wind on this glorious morn!

So listen, in honor of all things Irish on this fine day, we thought who better to splay out under the scope and blade than Mr. Leprechaun himself, Warwick Davis! Okay, so Davis is English, not Irish. But think about it, since making his screen debut in the early 80s, Davis has appeared in such high and low genre joints as RETURN OF THE JEDI, LABYRINTH, WILLOW, LEPRECHAUN, LEPRECHAUN 2, LEPRECHAUN 3, LEPRECHAUN 4: IN SPACE, LEPRECHAUN IN THE HOOD, LEPRECHAUN: BACK 2 DA HOOD, CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, the entire HARRY POTTER series, HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, SKINNED DEEP, THE UNBROKEN, JACK THE GIANT SLAYER, SAINT BERNARD, and now onward. Outside the family fare he does so well, Warwick's a hardened horror and sci-fi lifer!

With no further adieu needed, let's get going. Crack a cool one, pour a tall one, shoot a stiff one...it's time for our Saint Patty's Day Dissection of one Warwick Davis. Cheers!

BEST WORK

Get LEPRECHAUN Here

Granted, as an overall movie experience, you'd likely be hard-pressed to call anything other than WILLOW Davis' finest. But come the f*ck on, when you play a mean green iconic titular horror villain SIX times over...yup, winner winner sickened sinner!

And so it goes friends, LEPRECHAUN must be considered, at least in these quarters, as Davis' most extensive and lasting endeavor to date. Six films over the course of a calendar decade (1993-2003), perhaps what is most interesting about Davis work as LEPRECHAUN is, in many ways like Freddy Krueger in the ELM STREET series, his the comedic evolution of the character. Think about it. The first LEPRECHAUN flick actually projects a menacing and sinister tone. The horror is primary, the humor secondary. But as the series progressed, the paradigm inverted, the horror regressed in favor of the funny...to the point where the last entry in Davis' LEP canon (BACK 2 DA HOOD) can be construed as little more than laughably cartoonish self-parody. Perhaps that is why Davis chose not to partake in the odious LEPRECHAUN: ORIGINS just last year, 11 years after last playing the part. At least, let's hope that is was Davis who turned it down and not the decision of director Zach Lipovsky. Talk about heresy!

Get LEPRECHAUN'S POT OF GORE COLLECTION Here

Whoa, speaking of blasphemy, you ever get a load of Warwick's rap game when he took to the streets in part 5? "Lep in the hood, up to no good"??? You f*cking kidding me? I can't tell which is more cringingly entertaining, that or Ice-T playing the slick Daddy Mack. What I can tell? How much in the minority I personally am for liking the hood as a better setting than the countryside, Las Vegas and outer-space...as seen in the original and parts 3 and 4. BACK TO DA HOOD however, whoa daddy, a bigger jinx than Bobby f*cking Durst!

WORST WORK

Get SKINNED DEEP Here

Yikes! With movies like THE PRINCESS AND THE DWARF (1989) and A VERY UNLUCKY LEPRECHAUN (1998) under your belt (the latter currently rocking a 1.7 IMDB rating), the only direction to go is up! Hey, they can't all be George Lucas enterprises!

So instead, I want to briefly call attention to a pair of supremely dubious horror movie choices of Davis' from the past decade or so. The first is called SKINNED DEEP (2004) and the other is THE UNBROKEN (2012).

Jesus, would you just cop a peek at Warwick's god-awful hairpiece in SKINNED DEEP? Yeah well that's the least egregious thing about the flick. This is straight-up Z-level trash-cinema at its worst, with not even Warwick able to elevate its overall appeal. How could he with that Ice-Ice-Baby hair?!

Then there's THE UNBROKEN, a cheaply made, banal, by the numbers horror-thriller with about as much originality as its title. Warwick plays a psychic in the flick, owning an odd soothsayer shop of sorts. His shop is the only respite from an otherwise single-set apartment complex, where all kinds of sinister shite goes down. All you really need to know here is Daniel Baldwin takes top billing. enough said!

TRADEMARKS

Get WILLOW Here

We could travel the obvious, even reductionist route, and label LEPRECHAUN as Warwick's most winning trademark. But let's not go there, and instead focus on the unique physical stature that Davis has not only overcome as a perceived crutch, but used as an absolute asset in his work over the decades. Because, let's face it, Hollywood discriminates like a mofo. It's hard enough to be an actor at all, and there is little doubt the obstacles for achieving such were doubly difficult for sir Warwick. How could it not be?

But did dude give up? Oh hell no. Dude not only persisted, but wisely found a calling and learned to use his size and stature to play a wide spate of non-human, fantastical roles in everything from family fare to hardened horror. To us, Warwick's everlasting trademark is being comfortable in his own skin, fully in-tune with his own instrument, and the ability to know how to use his unique characteristics to essay a large gulf of different parts. Not quite AITH material I realize, but this self-awareness has never been demonstrated better by Davis than in his short-lived HBO series Life's Too Short, in which he totally took the piss out of his own career and self image. Sounds like the same goes for a show that has yet to, as of my knowledge, be released called Dwarves Assemble, which Davis co-wrote and made his directorial debut with. He also starred in the series as Oberon Ufgood, which is a pastiche of the characters he played in both RAY and WILLOW. Again, knowing his strength!

HIDDEN GEMS

Get LABYRINTH Here

How's this for getting lost in the weeds. Warwick's first three credits, spanning from 1983-85, included STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI and two made for TV follow-ups, THE EWOK ADVENTURE and EWOKS: THE BATTLE FOR ENDOR. Then in 1988, Davis reunited with God himself, George Lucas, to play the title hero in WILLOW. That's a hell of a five year run on its own. But in the interim, made in 1986? That's right y'all, a sick and twisted little track called LABYRINTH was constructed!

Surely divided into two polarized, love-it or hate-it camps (much like Jim Henson's DARK CRYSTAL as well), LABYRINTH falls into that weird amalgam of movie Davis proved to gravitate towards throughout his career. It has that family/fantasy/adventure vibe, but one with a certain darkness and sinister undercurrent. Thing is, Davis, who plays Goblin Corps in the film, doesn't feature very prominently. He plays a ghoulish foil for Jennifer Connelly's character, who must conquer the labyrinth in a half-day or so or else her baby brother will be turned into a heinous goblin. But still, it's a fun 80s flick that established the kind of work Warwick would do for decades. For instance, CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, HARRY POTTER and the like.

Get THE HARRY POTTER BOX SET Here

But what about the horror, you ask? Well I've got an even deeper Warwick Davis cut for you stitch up. How many of you are familiar with Steve Coogan's short-lived 2001 horror-comedy anthology show DR. TERRIBLE'S HOUSE OF HORRIBLE? Yeah well, Davis lent a key role the series finale (only the 6th episode altogether), playing Tygon in the episode "Scream Satan Scream!" The show pokes fun old 70s horror conventions, spoofing almost every subgenre: witch-hunting, vampirism, the occult, mutation, possession and sorcery. And Davis devilishly partakes in the later! I really urge you to check it out if you haven't already...HERE'S a little snippet to whet your whistle!

NEXT PROJECT

Since we've taken an oath and sworn a vow of silence regarding all things STAR WARS here at AITH, we'll keep this one brief. But there's no way around the fact that Sir Warwick's acting career has come full f*cking circle. After earning his very first screen credit as Wicket in STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI in 1983, for his newest project Warwick looks poised to reprise that very role in J.J. Abrams' STAR WARS VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS. Pretty cool shite. 32 years and 68 credits apart, back where it all began in galaxy far, far...

But then again, Davis did play a different role altogether, Wald, in PHANTOM MENACE back in '99 (that hairdo though!) So perhaps he'll be taking on yet another new par when the FORCE AWAKENS this Christmas. We shall see...

As per usual with an Abrams flick, or any STAR WARS plotline for that matter, mystery shrouds THE FORCE AWAKENS. However, we do know that series originals Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford are all set for a geriatric reunion in the cosmos. The droopy OGs will be joined by newcomers Lupita N'Yongo, Oscar Isaac, Domnhall Gleeson, Andy Serkis, Max Von Sydow, Adam Driver, Gwendoline Christie and others.

THE FORCE AWAKENS December 18, 2015.

OVERALL

Warwick Davis is an undisputed G! Despite the diminutive stature, the dude has stood mighty tall in the horror and sci-fi genre for more than three decades. I have a sneaking suspicion the lot of us around here will remember the most fondly for his 10-year reign as the lecherous LEPRECHAUN, and rightly so. But let's not forget the contributions made to everything from RETURN OF THE JEDI, LABYRINTH, WILLOW, HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, SKINNED DEEP, THE UNBROKEN, JACK THE GIANT SLAYER, SAINT BERNARD to all seven chapters in the HARRY POTTER franchise. Even under scores of makeup and elaborate costuming, Davis seems to deliver one memorable turn after another, emoting largely with his eyes and expressing with body language rather than conventional dialogue and/or a full range of facial features. Like most of you out there, I grew up watching Warwick's flicks, and damn sure hope to wind down watching them as well. Props to you, Mr. Davis!

Extra Tidbit: You have a favorite Warwick movie?
Source: AITH

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