My magical history tour! Warwick Davis loved his time on the Harry Potter set so much he's been back to the studios a dozen times
Warwick Davis had not one but two roles in the Harry Potter films.
He spent ten years – on and off – working at the Potter film set where he’d be in make-up for four hours every day to turn him into the goblin Griphook or Hogwarts teacher Professor Flitwick.
You’d think he’d be sick of anything to do with the wizarding world. But apparently not.
He’s already visited the Making Of Harry Potter tour at Leavesden studios in Hertfordshire almost a dozen times, both on his own and with his two children.
Now, as it celebrates its first year, try keeping him away. ‘It’s rather magical,’ he says, ‘The stuff is like priceless works of art and I just love to be there. It’s about the world of film-making and the magic of movies.’
Warwick, it seems, is not the only Harry Potter star still hankering for the good old days on set nearly two years after the last film was finished. Between Leavesden and The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter in Orlando, he’s bumped into many of his co-stars.
‘I’ve seen Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, obviously, but I also see Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy, a lot, and even Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon. We’re all pretty close because we shared this great experience,’ he adds. ‘It could be demanding but it was also a lot of fun. We had this brilliant adventure.’
Warwick starred in the original Star Wars series and has worked steadily since he was 11. But he still feels there was something rather special about being on the Potter set.
‘From the beginning the film-makers realised they had to construct an immaculate reality,’ he says. ‘Everything had to be perfect, from the cutlery, which was custom-made, to the food, the goblets and the individually designed wands. Weeks of work went into each set of prosthetics I wore as Griphook. The silicone had to be moulded, cleaned up and painted before individual hairs were put in. Then I’d wear it for a day and it would be thrown away.’
More than a million people have walked through the doors of the tour at Leavesden since it opened last year. Tourists have come from as far as New Zealand and Japan. An incredible 30 people have been inspired to propose on the tour; usually in the discreet wand room.
But Warwick doesn’t need facts and figures to tell him how wondrous the tour is. He says he still gets goosebumps every time he visits.
‘The introduction to Hogwarts sends shivers up my spine,’ he says. ‘I walk into The Great Hall and I’m as enthralled and excited as the other guests. As you first come in it feels like a historical building, but then you turn a corner and realise it’s made out of plaster and scaffolding.
‘My first day of filming was in that very room. As I sat at the head table I remember looking around me. To my left was Maggie Smith and the late Richard Harris. Further along was Alan Rickman. To my right was Robbie Coltrane. I remember thinking, “How did I get here?”’
Thanks to his appearance in Harry Potter, though, Warwick, who is 43, is becoming as famous as the names he recites with awe. And he’s about to tick off another lifelong ambition, by appearing in the new series of Doctor Who next week.
‘It’s a bit like being in Harry Potter – I can’t tell you a thing about it,’ he says. ‘All I know is that I’m fulfilling another ambition and I feel like an exceptionally lucky person. Working with your heroes is terrific.’
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