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'Willow': How a chance meeting with George Lucas on the set of 'Solo' led to the Disney+ revival

Maybe meeting your hero is a very good thing?

By Tara Bennett
Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) in Lucasfilm's WILLOW exclusively on Disney+.

If there was a movie that you loved in '80s, '90s and 2000s, it's more than likely you've been able to savor a remake, sequel or revival of it in the last decade. In the case of Willow (1988), it took 34 years for anything to come from the hit fantasy film directed by Ron Howard with a story by George Lucas. There were talks of doing something between lead Warwick Davis and Lucas going back to 2005, but to no avail. As it turns out, it took writer/director Jon Kasdan asking Lucas why it lay dormant for so long for the path to the new Disney+ series, Willow, to suddenly clear up.

At the Willow series press conference for the series last week, Jon Kasdan told reporters (including SYFY WIRE) that he remembers the exact moment on the set of Solo: A Star Wars Story (which he co-wrote with his father, Lawrence) that the infamous Willow topic was unexpectedly breached. 

"Warwick was actually there, present on the day, that I had my one and only conversation with George about this project," Kasdan remembered. "He came and visited the set of Solo because he is devoted to Ron and they are dear, dear friends in real life. They told us that he was going to come for just a moment and we shouldn't make direct eye contact or ask him any direct questions. And instead, he ended up staying for six hours and answering all our questions and being nothing but lovely."

Kasdan said there was a moment when he was sitting next to Lucas, "the god of his childhood," and mentioned that Lucasfilm was just sitting on the perfect opportunity to tell more Willow stories. 

"He kind of smiled wryly and said he couldn't agree more and had been trying to make that happen for quite a while," Kasdan said. "He was a supporter and an advocate for any of that we could get off the ground. And, that faith and excitement and genuine boyish enthusiasm was really critical to feeling like this was something we could go off and do."

Leaving that day with not only a picture of Warwick and Lucas on the Millennium Falcon, but also the fire to make new Willow stories happen, Kasdan said he started pitching Ron Howard ideas during the rest of the Solo shoot.

"One thing we always knew was at the core of it was what became of Elora Danan?" Kasdan said of the core conceit that he and Howard circled up around. "We thought that was a subject with a lot of promise. The movie ended with a bittersweet moment of Warwick kissing this baby and then saying, 'Okay, goodbye. I'll never see you again.' As an 8-year-old, I was like, 'You mean, they're not going to live together? They're not going to have a life together?' And how is she going to find out about all this stuff that happened to her?' So that felt like a great jumping off place for a series."

Further ideas developed around the question of who was protecting her in the interim years and what was the best way to protect her, not telling her who she was?" Kasdan continued. "That all felt in line with a lot of George's other stories about people discovering their unique heritage, or specialness, as they go through their lives. With this particular show, which is so much about growing up, that seemed like a theme that made total sense to us."

Willow the series debuts with two episodes Nov. 30 on Disney+.

Looking for some fantasy content to tide you over? Click here for our list of the best fantasy films available on Peacock.