Short in Stature but Large in Screen Presence: Our Favorite Little People Actors


Movies featuring actors who are little people aren’t uncommon, but unfortunately, very rarely does anyone know the names of those actors.  With the exception of Peter Dinklage and Warwick Davis it’s not easy to name little people in Hollywood.  To make matters murkier, said actors are often in extensive makeup or a full-body costume of some type. Still, many of these actors are often pivotal to making everything in a movie come together. Here’s a look at some notable little people and some of the more memorable roles they’ve played.

Warwick Davis

Out of any actor on this list Warwick Davis has probably had the largest variety of roles. He was cast as the lead in Willow, but he’s also played Filius Flitwick in the Harry Potter movies, Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi, and the Leprechaun in those awesome Leprechaun movies. Who else seen da Leprechaun say “Yeahhhhhh!”  That never gets old.  Plus he starred in his own comedy series Life’s too Short which I thought was absolutely hilarious.

Tony Cox

Tony Cox has found a nice niche in comedy, playing roles in Me, Myself & Irene as well as the very funny, very underrated Bad Santa:  The first time I ever saw Tony Cox on screen, though, was in an old children’s series called “Faerie Tale Theatre.” In the story of Snow White, Tony played the role of a dwarf named Bubba. He was funny then, and he’s funny now.

Verne Troyer

Verne Troyer is most recognizable thanks in part to his role as Mini-Me in the two Austin Powers sequels. Verne has also acted in Bubble Boy, The Love Guru, and the first Harry Potter movie. I like Verne Troyer a lot.  This is a guy who lives life to the fullest and leads a very celebrity party like lifestyle.  He’s awesome.

Zelda Rubenstein

Like Tony Cox, Zelda played a role in an episode of Faerie Tale Theatre, but she’s best known as the scary little lady who tells Carol Anne not to go into the light in Poltergeist. Zelda has played roles in literally dozens of television shows and movies, and recently played a buddy of the Antichrist in Southland Tales.  Unfortunately, Zelda isn’t with us anymore.

Debbie Lee Carrington

Hmmm…Debbie Lee actually gives Warwick Davis a run for his money when it comes to role variety. She played an Emperor Penguin in Batman Returns, a topless duck in Howard the Duck, and The Tiny Avenger to Damon Wayans’ Handiman on “In Living Color.” Debbie Lee was also on an episode of Seinfeld and even had a role in Captain EO, that weird Michael Jackson Star-Wars- thing at EPCOT. I vaguely remember Debbie Lee as a prostitute in Total Recall.

Peter Dinklage

Aside from his role as Trumpkin in the Chronic-what?!-cles of Narnia movies and Mr. Lannister if you please in GOT, Peter Dinklage seems to get roles that don’t involve him playing a non-human, which, naturally, makes him more recognizable. Dinklage played a childrens’ book author in Elf, has appeared on the poorly-written, overrated Entourage and played Marlowe Sawyer on Nip/Tuck. There’s not much to say about Dinklage other than he’s a terrific actor.

Michael Dunn

Michael Dunn

Though he hasn’t been in anything since his death in 1973, I had to include Michael Dunn. Dunn is considered a pioneer of sorts for little people, as he turned down typecasting for more serious, dramatic roles. According to his IMDB page, Dunn had an IQ of 178! Although, who knows if that’s true. What isn’t disputable, though, is the inspiration Dunn provided to a whole generation of little people actors.

Phil Fondacaro

With apologies to Herve Villechaize (Tattoo on Fantasy Island), Michael J. Anderson (Carnivale), and Nelson de la Rosa (Pedro Martinez’s “mascot” during the 2004 MLB playoffs), Phil Fondacaro, who is married to Verne Troyer’s manager, is the last actor featured in this article due to his impressive body of work. He played a warrior in Willow, had roles on CSI and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and an Ewok in Return of the Jedi.

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