THANK God Warwick Davis’s parents thumbed their noses at so-called expert medical opinion when he was born in Surrey in 1970.
Davis, star of the new Ricky Gervais mockumentary Life’s Too Short, was born with the rare genetic disorder spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita. Doctors were brutal in their assessment, telling his parents he’d be dead before reaching his teens.
Davis’s parents, both of average size, were adamant he would ‘‘ rewrite the rules’’.
They instilled in him an understanding he could either wallow in self-pity or do everything in his power to achieve his dreams.
Davis’s acting career took off at 11 when his grandmother heard a radio segment calling for little people to appear in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Ron Howard and George Lucas cast him in the title role in Willow, leading to a long list of credits including the Harry Potter and Leprechaun film series.
Davis, who stands 1.07m, plays an egotistical, obnoxious version of himself in Life’s Too Short.
‘‘ I really do have a lot to thank my parents for,’’ he says.
‘‘ As a child I was a lot shorter than I should have been, but they wouldn’t immediately grab something for me that I was reaching for. It gave me a ‘ can-do’ attitude and stood me in good stead.
‘‘ My kids are both short and know just to get on with things.’’
Davis, 42, met wife Samantha in 1988, when she was cast as an extra in Willow.
She became pregnant with their first child, Lloyd, in 1989, but they had little idea of the genetic risks they were taking. While Davis has SED, Samantha has the most common form of dwarfism, achondroplasia. Because Lloyd inherited the genetic condition of both parents, he could not breathe unassisted. His parents made the heart-wrenching decision to switch off his life support after nine days. ‘‘ You never fully recover,’’ Davis says. ‘‘ There was an element of keeping our fingers crossed when we decided to have another go at having children — that it didn’t turn out like the last time.’’
They have two children (below), Annabel, 14, and Harrison, 9, who were born with SED. Annabel spent two months on ventilation after birth. In Harrison’s first week, doctors rated his chances of survival as slim, but he found the strength to pull through.
‘‘ The odds were against him. We have been very lucky,’’ Davis says. Life’s Too Short, ABC1, tonight, 9.05pm