Things are coming full circle for Warwick Davis.
The iconic actor was just 13 years old when he made his big-screen debut, playing the brave and resilient Ewok Wicket in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. He reprised the role in two made-for-TV movies shortly thereafter, and while he's popped up in other Star Wars movies since, he went well over 30 years without donning the Endorian fur. That changed in 2018, when he got a call asking him to return for a scene in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker — and bring his son along with him.
"When I got the call about that I almost was like, are you serious?" Davis remembered in a recent conversation with SYFY WIRE's Fandom Files podcast. "And they said [director] J.J. [Abrams] really wants to do this but we've got to work with you to actually make it happen."
The new Star Wars trilogy has emphasized a return to puppetry and actors in creature costumes over fully computer-generated characters wherever possible, and that was the plan for Wicket, as well. The issue was that the plans for the original Ewok costume had long since disappeared, as had the suit itself, which meant that "there was no reference to any structure of the costumes," Davis, who has been promoting the home video release of his movie Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, explained.
"These aren't just some fur and you don't just put it on," he added. "There's an undersuit of foam and things — or there was in the original costume — that actually create the shape of the character."
Luckily, Davis was a better archivist, and he had at home a plethora of photos from his time on the set of Return of the Jedi, taken by his mother and father. Back then, with no social media, there was less paranoia about photos leaking, so they were able to snap all kinds of shots, including pictures of Davis trying to keep cool with half the costume peeled off. That exposed the interior of the old costume enough that they were able to get a good reading of how the thing should be structured and built, with a few important modifications.
"He's got older like I have, and he's had a child," Davis said. "The Ewok you see next to him is his son — and my son Harrison, in reality as well, which was a really lovely touch. J.J. was really keen for us to play the characters together, which was lovely."
Wicket and son make a very brief appearance at the end of The Rise of Skywalker, but it's a fan-pleasing moment that offers a glimpse into a world that's been left largely untouched. Davis says he's given some thought to what happened to Wicket after Return of the Jedi.
"I think life's been okay for the Ewoks. Once they expelled the Empire, it seems like everything's been okay," he said. "The idea of that scene there was to be looking up and seeing that the First Order is falling and life is going to be good again. I wasn't given any backstory, but no doubt knowing the fans of Star Wars, there will be people creating these backstories."
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is now available on Digital and will be released on Blu-ray/DVD on January 14.