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Warwick Davis Reflects on 41-Year Acting Career Ahead of Willow Series Premiere: ‘Really Grateful’

Warwick Davis is looking back at his storied 41-year acting career.

In PEOPLE’s exclusive featurette, the 52-year-old star reflects on being cast in as an Ewok in 1983’s Return of the Jedi at age 11 by Star Wars creator George Lucas.

“It’s a true blessing to be able to make a living doing something that you love. I’ve been an actor for 41 years,” he shares. “The characters that I’ve played throughout those 41 years is a pretty long list, playing a huge variety of fun and really interesting characters. All the opportunities I’ve had, it was brilliant fun. I feel really grateful when I think back to how it all started.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18: Warwick Davies attends the "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" European Premiere at Cineworld Leicester Square on December 18, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18: Warwick Davies attends the "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" European Premiere at Cineworld Leicester Square on December 18, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Davis recalls learning about the audition from his grandmother, who heard Lucasfilm’s casting call on the radio.

“They were looking for people to be in the next installment of Star Wars, which was Return of the Jedi and they hired me and that’s how it all started,” he says.

On set, Davis was able to “do things that most 11 year olds only dream of, like battling stormtroopers and getting to meet my heroes in the form of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia.”

The actor says Lucas has since become a “mentor” to him, adding, “He’s been such an integral part of everything I’ve done, be they in Star Wars or the film idea he came up with specifically for me and that idea was Willow.

Editorial use only. No book cover usage. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Lucasfilm/Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock (5886269aa) Kenny Baker, Warwick Davis Star Wars Episode Vi - Return Of The Jedi - 1983 Director: Richard Marquand Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox USA Scene Still Scifi Return Of The Jedi Le Retour du Jedi

Editorial use only. No book cover usage. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Lucasfilm/Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock (5886269aa) Kenny Baker, Warwick Davis Star Wars Episode Vi - Return Of The Jedi - 1983 Director: Richard Marquand Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox USA Scene Still Scifi Return Of The Jedi Le Retour du Jedi

Lucasfilm/Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock

Davis says that making the 1998’s Willow was “one of the greatest experiences”of his life, but he thought that the opportunity to play the iconic character of Willow Ufgood had ended until he began working on the new Disney+ series.

“I was [a] leading man at 17 and getting to work with Ron Howard was incredible,” he recalls. “He really knows how to direct actors. People all over the world say to me, ‘We love that film so much.’ You can tell it’s really dear to their hearts. They often said to me, ‘Will be ever see a sequel?'”

“I never thought I would get the chance to revisit the character again until now,” he adds. “I’m so happy to be back. I think we’ve made something fresh, modern and new to introduce a whole new generation of fans to the world of Willow.”

Davis is especially grateful to be working with his children.

“Speaking of new generations, I’ve had the privilege to work with my kids, Annabelle and Harrison, into the family business,” he says. “My daughter Annabelle is now playing my daughter in Willow. I can’t think of a better way to embark on this new adventure.”

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 28: (L-R) Annabelle Davis, Samantha Davis, Warwick Davis, and Harrison Davis attend a special influencer screening of Willow at The Magic Castle in Hollywood, California on November 28, 2022. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 28: (L-R) Annabelle Davis, Samantha Davis, Warwick Davis, and Harrison Davis attend a special influencer screening of Willow at The Magic Castle in Hollywood, California on November 28, 2022. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Willow starred Davis as a sorcerer determined to save the life of a child — Elora Danan — who is being hunted by a queen. After the original film, Lucas, 78, commissioned a three-part novel series from Chris Claremont, which takes place 15 years later.

Alongside Davis, the new series also stars Ruby Cruz, Erin Kellyman, Ellie Bamber, Tony Revolori, Amer Chadha-Patel, Dempsey Bryk and Joanne Whalley.

Talisa Garcia is also set to star, marking the first time in Disney’s history that an openly trans person will play a cisgender role.

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Willow is now streaming on Disney+.