Friday, June 14, 2013

Good things come in small packages

book review

Book: Size Matters Not: The Extraordinary Life and Career of Warwick Davis
Author: Warwick Davis

If you have seen the Star Wars, Harry Potter, or Leprechaun film series, then you must be familiar with Warwick Davis’ work. Yet it wouldn’t be surprising if you didn’t have the slightest idea who he is. Hidden inside an Ewok costume in Return of the Jedi, disguised as a depressed robot in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and concealed under layers of prosthetics and makeup in the Harry Potter and Leprechaun films, the actor has forged a career in film, despite – or perhaps because of – being smaller than the average person: he is only 3 feet and 6 inches tall.

Born with the rare (and thoroughly unpronounceable) “spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenital” disorder to average sized parents, Warwick chanced into an acting career at a young age, and has since gone on to be part of some of the most successful series of all time. His acting and personality have impressed the people around him so much that George Lucas even wrote the film Willow with Davis in mind for the titular role, and Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant helped him create the mockumentary Life’s Too Short (2011) in which he portrayed a fictional version of himself.

His career, as you can tell, has been quite impressive, and in his autobiography Size Matters Not: The Extraordinary Life and Career of Warwick Davis, the actor shares his many struggles and achievements – both personal and professional – with the readers in a very engaging and amusing way.

After battling physical problems right from birth – no one knew he was going to be born little – Warwick was given a grim prognosis; doctors thought he would be “wheelchair-bound and dead by his teens, if he survives these first few months”. “This, as it turned out,” he writes, “was completely, utterly, and entirely incorrect.” Despite the medical problems he faced as a child, Warwick had a fairly “normal” upbringing. “What I lacked in inches I made up for in explosive energy,” he pens. Then, at the age of 11, he got a chance to audition for a role in the new Star Wars film after his grandmother heard a casting advert on the radio, thus giving a start to his acting career, much of which he details in this book.

Warwick shares his experience of working on Star Wars and the many subsequent projects that he has since been part of, and also talks about marrying actress Samantha Davis (who has achondroplasia) and their heartbreaking struggle to start a family, as well as setting up the talent agency Willow Management with his father-in-law Peter Burroughs which represents other performers who are under five feet tall.

The actor’s personality shines through in Size Matters Not. He talks about his family lovingly and he discusses his career with passion, and by the end of the book it is hard not to be impressed by Warwick Davis and his unique take on life. His sense of humour is delightful, his determination and enthusiasm are remarkable, and his candid discussion on life as a little person offers a very interesting perspective on what it’s like to be short. Fans of the movies he has been a part of can also find behind the scene anecdotes that they might find interesting. Ultimately, Warwick’s unique voice makes Size Matters Not an interesting read, and his amusing style of writing is very likely to win you over.

- By S.A.

Us Magazine, The News - 14th June, 2013

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