Q&A: Mike Edmonds on ‘Under the Radar’ Making North American Premier at HSDFF

Mike Edmonds has had an extensive film and theater career, and a documentary about his life and work, “Under the Radar: The Mike Edmonds Story,” will make its North American premier at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival.

Edmonds, who was born with chondroplasia (also known as dwarfism) and raised in rural England, is likely best known for movie roles in “Return of the Jedi,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “Time Bandits” and the “Harry Potter” films.

“Under the Radar,” directed by Simon J. Frith, is described as “warm-hearted” and features interviews with well-known actors, directors and others who have worked with Edmonds over the years.

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Edmonds, along with the documentary’s producer Grant Philpott, will attend the HSDFF screening on Saturday, Oct. 8 at 1:50 p.m. and participate in a Q&A with the audience.

We got the chance to have an email chat with Edmonds about the film and his upcoming visit to Hot Springs.

How did “Under the Radar” come about?

I’ve known the director Simon Frith for a long time, and we keep in touch, exchange Christmas cards and so on. He just rang me one day and said he’d like to make a film about me. I said, “Are you sure there’d be enough of an interesting story there?” He seemed certain there was — so it just went from there.

The film has already been released in the U.K. How have audiences there reacted?

Yes, it’s been screened twice so far, and it’s gone really well on both occasions. In fact, until it was first screened at the Southend Film Festival (my hometown), I hadn’t seen it myself. So, I was a bit worried, wondering how Simon had edited it and what the others had said about me. But, I needn’t had worried — it was great.

People have come up to me afterwards and told me how uplifting the film was and how their outlook on life has changed as a result. We had another showing for a private group of friends and colleagues in London, including some of those who appear in the film like Star Wars producer Robert Watts, and my good mate Jeremy Bulloch — and they loved it too.

You’ve been in many films and have also had a lengthy theater career. What are some of your favorite roles?

I’ve enjoyed it all really. I’m so lucky to have been given so many opportunities to work with so many great directors, Terry Gilliam, Jim Henson, Robert Zemeckis, Ken Loach and Ridley Scott.

But, I think I’m most proud of my time with the Royal Shakespeare Company, when I appeared as Grumpskin in “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.” They were a great bunch of people to work with, and not at all diva-ish — everybody was equal. There was no star billing — we were all listed on the poster in alphabetical order. It was just lovely.

Why do you think HSDFF is a great venue for the film’s North American debut?

From what I’ve seen of the program, the festival screens some great documentaries, so I feel like my film is in good company. So I’m really pleased it’s premiering there.

You will be attending the screening and Q & A. What are some things about you as an actor and the film that you want to impart to the audience?

Well, I’m quite a shy person really. I feel lucky to have gotten this far and humbled to have had a film made about my life. I’ve enjoyed my film career and love talking to the fans of the films, although they usually know much more than I do. If it weren’t for the fans, I wouldn’t be where I am today, so I’m very grateful to them.

What do you want people to take away from the film?

Well, I suppose just do what you can with your life. I’d never done any acting until I got my first film role at age 35, and I’ve not looked back since. If you’ve got a dream or ambition to do something, then just do it — go for it! I have a friend who has cerebral palsy, and he’s just won two medals at the Rio Paralympics. Life’s too short to worry about what cards you’ve been dealt — just make the most of what you have and enjoy it.

 Have you ever been to Arkansas? What are you most looking forward to about visiting and attending the HSDFF? 

I’ve been to America many, many times, both for films and to visit sci-fi conventions, but I’ve never been to Arkansas. I always enjoy going to America because I’m always sure of a warm welcome. So I’m really looking forward to the trip and meeting the fans in Arkansas. Aside from the people, I’m most looking forward to visiting a mall and doing some shopping.

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Q&A: Mike Edmonds on ‘Under the Radar’ Making North American Premier at HSDFF