Amid the flurry of cameos audiences can expect from Solo: A Star Wars Story, now in theaters, there’s one familiar face they may not recognize.
Warwick Davis, who so memorably played the Ewok warrior Wicket in Return of the Jedi, has a small supporting role in the Ron Howard-directed blockbuster this weekend, marking the actor’s sixth appearance in the big-screen galaxy far, far away.
Davis marked the premiere with a celebratory tweet, writing, “35 years ago today, the film that changed my life was released. #ReturnOfTheJedi I didn’t know it then but George Lucas had started my acting career & how fitting that 35 years later, I can celebrate my return to that galaxy far, far away for #SoloMovie. The Force is with me.”
The actor, now 48, was just 11 when his grandmother heard a casting call for Return of the Jedi on the radio, specifically looking for people 4 feet tall or shorter to take on roles in the franchise’s then-final installment. Originally just an extra, he was recast in the larger role of Wicket after actor Kenny Baker (also known for playing droid R2-D2) fell ill.
The part launched his career, which expanded a few years later with a role in Willow he landed after a meeting with George Lucas and — presciently — Ron Howard. He’d go on to play the eponymous creature in Leprechaun and its sequels; other major roles included Professor Filius Flitwick and goblin Griphook in the Harry Potter franchise. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace also found him portraying a Rodian slave, a human weapons dealer, a street trader, and Yoda in some shots.
And since the Star Wars franchise has returned in full force, he’s carved out a niche playing bit characters who round out the universe, including an alien resident of Maz Kanata’s castle in The Force Awakens, a member of a militant insurgent group on Jedha in Rogue One, and an alien aristocrat on Canto Bight in The Last Jedi.