- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
In 1988, Jonathan Kasdan watched the fantasy adventure Willow for the first time at Westwood’s Regency Village Theater with his father and Star Wars screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. Thirty-four years later, Kasdan — now co-writer and executive producer of the series reboot of the original film — returned to the very same theater on Tuesday for the premiere of Disney+’s Willow.
“It’s kind of like coming home,” executive producer Roopesh Parekh told The Hollywood Reporter. “I think what’s been key to the whole show, getting it off the ground but also getting to this point, is the love, passion and enthusiasm of Jon Kasdan. He’s sort of navigated this whole thing over the last four years. It’s been his dream to tell our story.”
“Without Jon, we wouldn’t have a series,” added Warwick Davis, who reprises his role as the eponymous Willow in the series. “He’s passionate about Willow and really understands what it means to the fans.”
Joanne Whalley, who starred in the original film as Sorsha, echoed a similar sentiment. “I think it was a mixture of dread and excitement, right?,” remembered Whalley about not knowing what to expect from the reboot. “Like, ‘Oh God, really? What the hell are you gonna do to it? Please don’t spoil it.’ But any doubts that I may have had were very quickly wiped away by the fabulous Jon Kasdan. I think he understands this material, maybe more than anyone who was involved in the film, or to come.”
Ron Howard, who directed the original Willow film, also executive produces on the new series. Previously, Howard directed Solo: A Star Wars Story, which Kasdan co-wrote alongside his father. It was in production of the Han Solo prequel that Kasdan first broached the idea of revitalizing Willow with Howard.
“I was very excited because I’d always had in my mind that once Lucasfilm and [Kathleen Kennedy] sort of stabilized at Disney moving forward that I really wanted to push for Willow as a show,” explained Howard. “George Lucas had always believed it should be a series. It’s been a dream of George’s and mine to do it as a show. And as Disney+ started to pick up momentum, I just felt like, ‘Let’s build that vision.’ And Jon Kasdan already had such a great approach to doing it that was not about being nostalgic or retro, but is still true to the roots of the film. He had really great creative instincts about where to take the show.”
“What’s wild about it for us is that we’re used to standing in the rain, sort of hoping for food, hoping that we’re gonna wrap, crying, working hard, knee-deep in mud,” joked Kasdan about the time spent filming the show in Wales. “It’s not like we’re associated with enormous amounts of glamour and glitz, and yet here we are [at the premiere]. It’s definitely pretty crazy.”
The series picks up 20 years after the events of the original movie, as sorcerer Willow Ufgood (Davis) leads a group of misfits on a dangerous rescue mission to vanquish an unknown evil. At the heart of the story are also the journeys of three women — Princess Kit (Ruby Cruz), Jade (Erin Kellyman) and Dove (Ellie Bamber).
“[Kit] gave me the opportunity to sort of represent an accurate representation of what it means to grow up as a young woman and the complications of that, rather than the sort of picture perfect idea of what that means,” said Cruz of her character. “That romanticizing of growing up. I feel like she gave me such an opportunity to show that the complicated messy parts are important, that we shouldn’t run from those. We should pay attention to them.”
“I’m excited for people to get to know our characters and see them go on this journey,” added Kellyman. “I hope that in the midst of all of the fantasy and the magic that they find a character that they can relate to. I think all of our characters are very different, and I think there’s genuinely something for everybody.”
Davis hopes audiences will be “thoroughly entertained and have a great experience and magical time.” The actor continued, “Hopefully, it’ll be something that you can sit with your family and watch. I know for a fact that the movie was watched by parents who then handed it on to their kids, and then grandparents and so forth. I’m hoping the series is similar in that.”
Willow is now streaming on Disney+.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day
Robert De Niro