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The Baby From Willow: Then And Now
Twins Kate and Ruth Greenfield are the only ones credited with playing baby Elora Danan in Ron Howard’s 1988 fantasy adventure starring Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer, with a story by George Lucas. In fact, four girls played the infant - so what are they all up to now?
Kate & Ruth Greenfield
None of the girls who were Elora have gone into the movie business. Instead Brit Kate Greenfield went to De Montfort University to study Forensic Science.
Now 28, she graduated with a BSc and got a tattoo on the left side of her ribs reading “it's in my DNA to want you, it's in my blood and mind and self”, which are lyrics from the song DNA by Thirsty Merc ( see what she did there?)
According to her long-neglected Twitter feed, she lived in Leamington Spa, was thinking about traveling to Thailand and possibly doing a masters in criminal investigation. Her last job listing is as a health care assistant in Coventry.
As for her sister Ruth? Vanished.
"I was used at the last-minute because I was told [the Greenfields] had grown too big for the backpack that Willow wears," says Rebecca Bearman, who was drafted in aged ten months thanks to her uncle Gerry Toomey, who was the movie's second assistant director.
She’s not bothered that she never got the credit for her performance, despite appearing in close-up shots during the early part of the film in the forest and down the river.
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A natural redhead (“they put a bigger ginger wig on me”), after doing a photography degree, Bearman is now an account manager for celebrated furniture and lighting designer Tom Dixon, looking after the Middle East and Europe.
The movie business never appealed. “I did a period drama with Joanna Lumley as an extra when I was about 15,” she says. “And I did some work experience with my uncle, helping out on the making of the zombie film‘ Doghouse ’with Danny Dyer. But I realized it's a bit of a lonely lifestyle and you have to travel quite a lot. "
Not only that, but as a performer, she wasn't always a director’s dream.
“I was generally a good child so I didn’t cry,” she remembers. "They needed me to cry when I'm in the back of a cart, because I'm meant to be terrified, but I was laughing the whole time. They had to give me my bottle and take it away to try and force me to cry. My Mum did more of the acting than I did! "
Most of her friends and family know about her big-screen glory and sometimes will even demand to watch the film on DVD.
But while her own memories of the movie have mostly come from on-set pictures her mum kept and what she’s been told, Bearman did have one very concrete benefit from appearing as Elora Danan.
“I did get paid for it, which my parents saved up and gave to me when I was 18 to buy my first car for £ 2000,” she laughs.
Part of the ‘Willow’ shoot took place on New Zealand’s South Island, where the filmmakers drafted in local baby Laura Hopkirk to play Elora Danan.
Incredibly, when Warwick Davis was filming ‘Prince Caspian’ in the country in 2007, he bumped into Hopkirk - without realizing she had been his co-star - when he visited the Flight Center in Queenstown.
Then the manager of the facility, Hopkirk revealed all, although it seems she’s moved on since then. Having attended Columba College school, she’s now married to Chris and called Laura Hopkirk Bradley. She’s also a yoga teacher at Yoga Nadi in Queenstown, while her Facebook page suggests the couple also have two young children.
Clearly not ginger anymore either.
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Image credits: Rebecca Bearman, Rosaleen Bearman, Laura Hopkirk Bradley / Facebook, Rex_Shutterstock, Lucasfilm, warwickdavis.co.uk, Kate Greenfield / Twitter
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