Love 'em or hate 'em, those cuddly but fierce little warriors of Endor -the Ewoks- were an essential part of RETURN OF THE JEDI's overall story and its popularity with the younger audiences. Enjoyed by regular cinemagoers, though originally reviled and hated by older fans as the years went on, their ultimate teddy bear image and presence in the saga was mostly accepted by the time of EPISODE I, when the die-harders, wanting a more grown up and darker edged universe, had a new character to take their unified umbrage onto: Jar Jar Binks!
|A boy's life! Warwick Davis on location in the California Redwoods for RETURN OF THE JEDI.|
Playing one of the key Ewoks of the film, the tiny but cute Wicket, was young star to be Warwick Davis, now a major actor of many a blockbuster movie and guest star of cult TV series. Here's an excerpt from his autobiography of a few years back, Size Matters Not, published by AURUM PRESS, which proved to be a very enjoyabe and often very funny read. If you haven't got it in your SW book collection, it's worth getting hold of...
From Chapter Three: Just Me and Princess Leia
The cast and crew immediately made me feel like a member of the Lucasfilm family. I think they warmed to me in part because I had no inhibitions. I still had absolutely no idea how I ought to behave on a movie set. I was just a little kid having fun and I didn’t quite realise just how important or significant the people around me were. Including the man himself.
It was David Tomblin who plucked me from out of the crowd and brought me to the attention of George Lucas.
‘Warwick, this is George Lucas,’ David said.
If David had told me that George played a Stormtrooper, then I would’ve been impressed, but all I could tell at that point was that George was a man with big hair, glasses and a beard.
‘Oh, right,’ I said without any enthusiasm whatsoever.
Thus started a lifelong friendship.
There was much falling over of Ewoks in the redwood forest set. The undergrowth was always dealing us funny little surprises; even the Stormtroopers were having trouble staying erect.
A few days later, a slightly worried-looking David approached me: ‘Warwick, we’ve got a bit of a problem,’ he said. ‘Kenny Baker’s been taken ill with food poisoning and he had a big scene to shoot today. George would like you to take over Kenny’s role as Wicket.’
‘This one’s really important, Warwick, you’ll be filming a five minute scene with Carrie Fisher.’
I ran around in circles in excitement, waving my spear in my own Ewok dance of victory.
Kenny was consigned to the background and became Paploo but, bless him, he never felt any ill will towards me. ‘I’m just happy to be able to spend a bit more time out of the sweatsuit,’ he said graciously. Besides, he still had the great chase scene where Paploo steals a Biker Scout’s speeder.
My big scene took place after Leia crashes her speeder bike while being chased by Biker Scouts. Wicket finds her unconscious and together the Princess and the Ewok take out two Biker Scouts before heading off to find Han and Luke.
I would be the first Ewok the audience would see and so, as the ambassador for my race, so to speak, I wanted to make a good impression. I would certainly set the Ewok tone for the rest of the film. I had no time to prepare but I’d been playing an Ewok for weeks, so I just did what I thought an Ewok would do naturally with Princess Leia.
When she appeared on set, Carrie immediately showed her concern for me.
‘Are you OK in there, Warwick?’ she said. ‘It must be so hot.’ She reached down behind a log and pulled out a carton of chocolate milk with a long straw and fed me cookies in between takes. She was everything an eleven-year-old Ewok could possibly wish for. She was so caring towards me. Whenever there was a pause, she asked if I needed anything. ‘Could I have another one of those cookies?’ became my standard reply.
From that day forth I became Wicket and was pushed to the front of the Ewok tribe.
Enjoy Warwick's YOUTUBE trailer/reading for the book: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDDociCV4hM
Friends of Warwick and fans of STAR WARS can get Size Matters Not here:
Size Matters Not: The Extraordinary Life and Career of Warwick Davis (Book) by Warwick A. Davis, et al. (2010): Waterstones.com
|Making the RETURN OF THE EWOK mini-movie with the STAR WARS icons.|
Check out a compilation clip of David Tomblin's specially made film during the making of JEDI: Extremley rare Star Wars footage - Return of the Ewok PT.1 - YouTube
And, let's not forget this fun musical tribute to the Ewoks endeavours in defeating the technological might of the Empire:Star Wars Ewok Gospel (featuring Billy Dee Williams) - YouTube