Warwick Davis has played everyone's favorite evil leprechaun in six (yes, six) Leprechaun films since the first movie debuted nearly twenty years ago. In that time, he's had roles in everything from the Harry Potter films to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and now his own show on HBO where he plays a fictionalized version of himself. The man's had an incredible career, but the thing horror fans will certainly most remember him for are his iconic portrayals of that murderous gold-crazed leprechaun. With St. Patrick's Day (a leprechaun's favorite holiday, of course) and the Video on Demand release of Leprechaun right around the corner, we had a chance to sit down with Davis to chat about Robert Englund, Pogoing in HD, and the creepy green dude that he simply can't stop playing.
I just spent the last few days watching and re-watching all the Leprechaun films. I watched all six back to back.
You do a lot for your art there, don't you. (Laughter).
Did you have any idea when you started Leprechaun that it would become this huge cult classic? That you'd be a horror icon?
Well, not at all. I mean you're using words like "icon" there and I grew up watching Freddy Krueger and Halloween and they were the movies that I watched when I was a teenager. To be listed and included in compilations alongside these iconic horror characters, it's quite incredible. What started off as a reasonably low budget horror movie with a totally unknown character called The Leprechaun and now it's become this sort of cult character that's being listed with those great, great horror characters. It's kind of an honor.
I met Robert Englund years ago initially about the time I did the film Willow and I remember how excited I was to meet him. Of course, being a fan of A Nightmare on Elm Street, I was kind of "wow." The guy that played that character. I've seen him actually since and I signed him a picture from Leprechaun that said, "I'm your worst nightmare." (Laughter).
Do you feel like you learned anything along the way making the Leprechaun films? Do you think you've grown into the character more and more each film?
You know what I learned from doing the Leprechaun sequels? As the films went on they're becoming popular which is obviously the reason we were making more. And then to get that makeup on and walk out onto the set and have new actors come in to play the scenes or to be out and about like in South Central, LA where we filmed the fifth one. The character is known then. He's recognizable to people who see him. The reaction of people to seeing the character in the flesh was really great.
I remember we did number three in Vegas. We actually went to film in Las Vegas and I remember there's a shot of me standing out in the middle of the strip trying to thumb a ride. And people's reactions, that was a real genuine situation you see it in the movie.
They said, "Right, well walk across the middle and just pretend you want to hitch a ride and we'll film it." And I said, "Hang on a minute. I could get kidnapped."
People were going crazy when they saw me. And all of that stuff around Vegas was filmed sort of guerilla style basically. We'd jump out of the back of a van with a camera and shoot a bit and come back in the truck again. We filmed in Las Vegas a little bit, but all the gambling, the casino was done in Los Angeles at The Ambassador, which is the hotel where Kennedy was shot in the kitchen. It was kind of a spooky hotel. People said they saw ghosts and everything while we were filming.
Did you experience anything?
Well I was in the makeup, you see. Every time I walked past a reflection, I experienced something. (Laughter). But no, I don't think any spirit would dare mess with the Leprechaun.
So the question everyone wants to know: Is there going to be another Leprechaun movie?
I'd love to do another one. I had an idea that maybe it has something to do with Fort Knox. That would be great, wouldn't it? Kind of a road movie though. He has to get there or something.
Except, I'm not sure you're aware of our financial situation in the US right now. There might not be any gold left. (Laughter)
Maybe that's the problem. Maybe it would turn out that the Leprechaun is messing about with it. (Laughter)
I'd love to do another one though because, as I said, when you've been that character and stepped in those shows again. Such an integral part of the character. Those shoes and that cheeky laugh.
And also I'd love to work with Gabe Bartalos (Brain Damage, Basket Case 2, Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie) who is my makeup artist. He did all the films. He designed all the makeup for the character and he's just a terrific guy. If you're a fan of horror - I mean you'd have to be a fan of horror to watch this one - I did a film with him. An independent film that he directed and did everything else on called Skinned Deep. You'll get a sense of the kind of lunatic character he is if you watch that film. I'd love to get back and work with him and have another go at the character. I think it'd be fun.
Now that they're coming out on Video on Demand (with several in HD), would you be up for doing commentary and behind the scenes for a Blu-ray release at some point?
Oh, of course. I know there's other stuff. I know there's behind the scenes footage because I shot some and I've got it here. There's some makeup applications and things I've got and some other just crazy stuff that happened. I think there are shots of me driving through Hollywood in the makeup because we had to move locations halfway through a night shoot. There's me and Gabe driving down Hollywood Boulevard filming ourselves because we thought it was hilarious that I was in the makeup.
And there's another thing, I just remembered something else we did with the character. MTV had something called Spring Break and it was something called Beauty and the Beach. They had celebrities come to judge some sort of beauty contest they have on the beach in San Diego. And I did this as the Leprechaun. (Laughter).
So I'm sitting next to an actor from Baywatch, but I'm in the character of the Leprechaun judging this contest. And I remember that we had to get made up in the hotel and walk down to the beach. On the way down in the elevator, one of the housekeeping ladies was in there. I sort of acted like I was the character the whole time and she didn't know what to do. It was brilliant. We filmed that whole thing.
How does it feel to be talking about Leprechaun again after all these years? It's got to be pretty amazing.
I'll be excited to start talking about Leprechaun because I haven't really talked about it a lot on Twitter before, but I'll be excited to chat about it a bit. I mean, High Definition. Amazing. I can't remember when I last watched the first movie, but was probably on a VHS actually, to be honest. So I'm going to be excited to dip into that. I mean, back when we did the films obviously HD wasn't something that you considered too much when you were doing these things. I'm looking forward to seeing it. Pogoing in HD. (Laughter)
That's one of my favorite kills. The pogo stick kill.
It was interesting how that was done. Originally, you see, Leprechaun was kind of designed as a scary movie for teenagers really. It was never going to be a horror movie. So we shot it in a way that was creepy and scary, but in a kind of Joe Dante scary way. And we finished shooting and then Trimark said they wanted to make it a horror movie because it has great potential as a horror, so we did another couple of weeks filming and sort of turned up the gore to eleven.
So the result of that was the pogo stick. Originally, you saw it in sort of a silhouette, a shadow on the wall. But then we had these more graphic shots of it actually going into his chest. And the policeman as well, when he pulls me over in the go-cart. You didn't see that in the original cut. You knew he'd been killed but it was a very wide shot, a scream off camera, and you knew something had happened to him. We then spent a few a few nights filming this chase sequence through the woods and ultimately me kind of jumping on his shoulders and breaking his neck.
So it was an interesting process going back in and finding these more horrific moments in the film. Ultimately, I think that's the reason the whole thing took off because it became horror. I think there's something to be said about making a slightly edgier, slightly scarier film instead of a teen, fourteen or fifteen-year-old audience. You know, I've got a fourteen-year-old daughter and we do enjoy sometimes watching films that are a little bit creepy. I think The Hole is a really good movie for that.
That's what I like most about the Leprechaun films. They don't take themselves too seriously. They're winking at the camera a little.
Oh, certainly. There was always that in the back of our minds. We were making a film for a very specific audience and one that understood what we were doing. It was all good fun.
The original Leprechaun is now available in High Definition on Digital Download, Video On Demand and Pay-Per-View just in time for your St. Patrick's Day celebrations. The third and sixth installment in the series are also available in HD for the first time as well.