The Ewok and Flitwick star talks to SFX on the launch of his new app, the PocketWARWICK [video]
Ahead of his appearance at MCM Expo in London this week, we speak to the hero of Life's Too Short about his upcoming projects
TV and film star Warwick Davis (familiar to all from the likes of Star Wars Episode IV: Return of the Jedi , the Harry Potter films, Leprechaun and many more) has just released his new mobile app, PocketWARWICK, in which you control the life and fame of your very own Warwick Davis. Ahead of his appearance at MCM Expo this weekend, SFX caught up with the star to discuss his leap into the world of casual gaming.
How did the idea for PocketWARWICK come to you?
"I was thinking how to combine my love of acting with my love of my iPhone! How can I get the two things together? Literally I need to get inside the phone. Hang on, maybe we could have this little character that lives in the phone and then that became PocketWARWICK who lives in there. I started to think well it would be good to sim my career a little bit, and the idea of being an actor and having to balance the survival and looking after yourself, feeding yourself and making sure you're comfortable, with going out and getting work through auditions. So that's the gestation of it I suppose. Beyond that, when you start working with creative people you start throwing ideas around and the result is the game that you can get."
How much were you involved in development?
"I was totally involved all the way through. I acted like the director of a film, in a way. I'd go to the developers' offices and sit behind workstations with them and just say 'can Warwick do this?' Apart from recording all of the dialogue for the game and all of the photographs that I had taken for the facial expressions, also writing all of the content. There's all of the film offers that Warwick's 'agent' sends through, I had to write all of those. The only thing I didn't do is sit there and write code. I'll leave that to the professionals."
You had to come up with the titles of in-game movie offers and you had a competition on Twitter to help out...
"It was fun! And it raised awareness for the game, but I can plug those straight into the game and it would appear as a task sent through by Warwick's agent to players all over the world. I love the ones that have a spoof on an actual film but with a height pun built into it. Those are great but I also like the ones that are just obscure. I came up with loads by just combining words together. Skeletal Mass doesn't really mean anything but you could imagine it's a film somehow."
You said it felt like a director's role. How much did it differ from your acting roles?
"There was a lot of performance-based work. Sitting there directing, you kind of have to describe it in emotional terms and [the developers] have to translate that through their programming into what you see at the screen. They are just very good at that. I don't know whether I just got lucky that this particular development house were very, very good at managing to interpret what I was on about or not! But it was a rewarding process all round."
Were you always into your iPhone games and apps?
"I still remember stuff like iPint which was one of the first apps I ever got, but there was something about it that was novel. You could show somebody 'look I've got beer in my phone', that's cool, and some of what PocketWARWICK is about is also that novelty factor. You could show somebody down the pub 'look I've got Warwick in my phone and look what he does when you do this'. There's that side of it, but also that side where you could sit for a good few hours and involve yourself in the much deeper, challenging aspect of it. How do I get him from being Z-list, all the way up to A-list? He kind of combines the type of gaming that I like. Sometimes you've got five minutes at a train station, other times you've got hours when you're on a plane. I wanted to make sure I ticked the boxes of things that I like to do."
Can we expect nods to your previous roles in these auditions and career changes PocketWARWICK goes on?
"Absolutely. They'll be more outfits and stuff that relates to things I've done in the past going in. Also it will parallel the future as well. Ultimately if you're playing it you want to try and make me an A-list celebrity. You actually earn a lot more money and you can spend more money on luxury items. Which is everyone's goal in life: to get that money and be able to buy the monster TV. For me, it was just to make something that was entertaining. It's the same in everything I do, whether it's a TV show or a film, I want to make the most entertaining, fulfilling project that I can. So if I can make a product that people download and they play and they enjoy then that's job done."
What ended up being your favourite part of the app?
"Warwick having a shower I love! He says a lot of things when he's in the shower, they are borderline at the moment but they were a lot ruder. That's one of my favourite bits, I just love the humour in it. There are so many bits and also what's lovely is that we don't fully instruct the user. It's a kind of journey of discovery. One day you might just touch the screen somewhere and you'll realise that's a function you didn't know about before. Its interesting to watch people play and discover things. We've already got a big long list of things we want to add but I've got some really, really cool ideas and how to take the game to the next level. It will be continually updated. I think I'll add costumes that you'll have seen me in on a TV show so we'll have those ready. We included some Halloween stuff already but there could be Christmas stuff in there. This isn't anything that really finished ever, this is an ongoing thing, that's what's great, especially from a creative point of view."
Do you think you'd take a break from acting and move more into the gaming industry?
"It kind of fitted in very well alongside what I was doing. While the game's been in development, I've been halfway around the world with Karl Pilkington on An Idiot Abroad 3 and it was something that I could keep doing. I don't think I need to go 'oh I'm giving up acting, I'm going to be a games developer' I think I'm going to combine the two."
And you're heading to the MCM Expo tomorrow…
"It's a show that I've been to before as an actor and that's primarily why I'm going but also it's a gaming show as well. I will be putting together a very special presentation. Warwick Davis playing with himself live on stage. That'll sound really wrong as a quote, won't it?!"
A little bit! Are conventions something you've always enjoyed?
"MCM Expo is one of my favourites actually. You've always got a great crowd, I do enjoy meeting the fans. I always go saying I'm going to have a good old look around (I like this stuff anyway) but I end up sitting behind my table just chatting to people and signing photos. That's the price of fame! [laughs]"
If you could return to any of your great fantasy characters, who would it be?
"Oh boy. I mean I'd like to do some more Leprechaun stuff. I'd love to do more Idiot Abroad and it hasn't even come out yet but it was so fun. There's more Life's Too Short coming. I mean he's Warwick Davis but he's also a character so I definitely can't wait to go back. We're doing that in February."
Would something ongoing, like Merlin , be something you'd want to do again?
"Yeah Merlin was really cool, and I didn't realise, when I did it, quite the impact it would have. The popularity of it! It's amazing. I've got MCM tomorrow and there'll be loads of people who love Merlin there and yeah I'm really proud to have been part of that. Its hugely watched everywhere in the world so that was good. That character you could revisit because he didn't die, for all we know he's still there on that bridge. Get him off the bridge! Get him into some action! I think he's done his bit there, we just put an automatic toll-booth there and he can go off and have an adventure."
Warwick Davis will be appearing at MCM Expo from tomorrow, tickets are available at http://www.londonexpo.com/faq/tickets/
and his free app PocketWARWICK is available on the Apple store (coming soon to Google Play store for Android too). Warwick Davis appeared in series three of Merlin which is the source of the image on the front page and is available to buy now (opens in new tab) .