'Too Short' is long on laughs


Art imitates life, but only up to a point, in "Life's Too Short," the hilarious new Britcom premiering Sunday, Feb. 19, on HBO.

Created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant ("The Office"), the half-hour comedy gives Warwick Davis (diminutive Professor Flitwick in the "Harry Potter" movies) a "Curb Your Enthusiasm" makeover, following the actor through a series of misadventures that beset his (highly fictionalized) character.

"There are certain things that make the line between the fictional Warwick Davis and the real one quite blurred," Davis says. "He shares my career and all my film and TV credits. Like him, I'm married, but my wife is short in stature in real life, unlike on the series. And I do run an agency that represents short actors, but I do it in a rather more ethical way than the TV Warwick does, giving his clients all the worst jobs and taking the best stuff for himself. I'm nothing like him in personality, though, and the way I approached this role was to treat it as a character."

Although Davis is a familiar face, especially in the U.K., for comedy purposes Gervais and Merchant have inflicted a severe career slump on the faux-Warwick and saddled him with a massive tax bill that leaves him scrambling to find any gig that will provide a paycheck, not unlike the struggling actor Gervais played in his earlier series "Extras." Also like "Extras," the episodes bring Davis into contact with such real-life stars as Johnny Depp, Liam Neeson, Helena Bonham Carter and Sting, among others, all of them having fun with their own images.

If Davis' character is short in stature, he is long on ego, which manifests itself in many unfortunate situations that often rely on physical comedy.

"It fits with the character as well, because when something physical happens to him, it's usually when he's trying to show off or getting out of his huge car, which he really shouldn't have," Davis explains. "What compounds the embarrassment for him, of course, is that there is a documentary crew there capturing these moments that might otherwise pass unnoticed."

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