Jonathan Kasdan is the executive producer on the upcoming Disney+ series Willow, a sequel to the 1988 movie of the same title, starring Warwick Davis. Recently, Kasdan sat down for an interview with Entertainment Weekly, alongside several of the show’s cast members. Kasdan thought that out of all of George Lucas’ creations, Willow lent itself to a sequel the most.
“I just thought everything about it lent itself to more stories in that world. And I was the first one to raise my hand when the possibility came up.”
Davis said it was a real privilege and a lot of fun to come back because he enjoyed playing the character the first time around years ago. So to come back and explore that all over again was really great. Plus, knowing that there’s an audience ready for Willow (2022), the fans who fell in love with the movie made it more gratifying. Davis said:
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“You know what, making the series, that really puts the pressure on because you’ve got a huge responsibility to make it the very best it can be for those people who have supported it and are passionate about it. You don’t want to let them down because they’ll soon tell you. So that kept us on our game the whole time last year.”
Joanne Whalley, who played Princes Sorsha in the movie, is also reprising her role in the series. However, she was a little apprehensive about joining because while she likes working, she didn’t want to spoil a good thing, which made her afraid to read the storyline and scripts for the Disney+ show. She kept thinking, “what if it’s rubbish?” Whalley said:
“No, it’s not. And what I think is really well done about it particularly is that it manages to transition from all the qualities and what was happening with the film and bring it forward and bring everything along with it into a new time, a new place. But you don’t feel like there’s a big jump cut or anything. It feels very organic. And I think having characters who are around in the film, reading what happens with Sorsha, I mean.”
According to Whalley, Sorsha’s life has been tougher than she would have hoped she had. When we first meet her, she’s dealing with some things. The actress didn’t go into detail about what, but the fact that Val Kilmer is not reprising his role as Madmartigan, Sorsha’s love interest from the movie, could have something to do with it. However, Whalley also said that the show had this great lightness of touch, which is why fans and actors enjoyed the movie so much.
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Joining the old cast are several young actors as new characters. There’s Ruby Cruz as Kit, Sorsha and Madmartigan’s daughter, the rebellious princess of Galladoorn who goes on a mission to rescue her twin brother Eric. Erin Kellyman is Jade, a rule-abiding, aspiring knight, a role that was written exclusively for her. And Ellie Bamber as Dove, a kitchen maid in love with Eric, who was not invited to go on the adventure but persistently joins anyway. Kasdan noted:
“You know, when we were figuring out who could hold the screen with Warwick and with Joanne, it was like, they needed to be fun. They needed to be funny. They needed to be sexy. But most of all, they needed to be able to banter back and forth with them. And I think, you know, they did get at least a C+ grade on all those scores.”
The actors and writer also opened up about the characters’ dynamics with one another and the group. For instance, all three young women grew up in the castle, but while Jade considers Kit and Sorsha her only family, Kit and Dove butt heads due to both being very stubborn in their own way, leading to Willow having to make peace between them the whole show. Also, while Dove can rustle up some stew, she lacks combat ability. Kasdan said:
“Everything in the trailer that you see of these two [Cruz and Kellyman] fighting, it’s really them. I mean, they’re amazing. Because we were moving at such a pace and shooting so fast, we didn’t have time to send a unit back with stunt doubles. Erin and Ruby had to do their sword fighting. Ellie had to just sort of look on like, ‘what’s happening? I hope somebody saves me from this.'”
Davis had a stunt double since. As “Cast Member No. 1,” they didn’t want to damage him. When asked who he wanted as his double, Davis suggested his 18-year-old son, Harrison. The latter is not only precisely the same height as his father but also has the same build and walk. Previously, Warwick and Harrison Davis appeared playing father and son in Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.
“So he’s the perfect double, took all my knocks for me, stood in for me. He was great. One of my favorite quotes of Harrison’s was when he was sitting on set, I would walk on. He’d go, ‘oh great, there goes the limelight,’” said Davis. Kasdan added, “Yes, and it was like having two Willows around at all times. We could have the one we could throw around and the one we had to provide the pom leaf to fan.”
Annabelle Davis, who you might know from her role as Sasha Bellman in The Dumping Ground, will also appear alongside her real-life father and brother in the show. According to Kasdan, she’s a brilliant actress and the person she plays, Mims, is one of the best characters. They were really excited about what she brought to the show.
“And between them, the relationship between Willow and Mims mirrors the real relationship between Warwick and Annabelle in a way that’s incredibly moving. And you get a little taste of it in that teaser.”
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