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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

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