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'Willow' producers not worried about fantasy competitors 'House of the Dragon' & 'Rings of Power'

Willow premieres on Disney+ Wednesday, Nov. 30.

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

Despite an incredibly strong fan base over the years, Willow isn't exactly a household name. Beyond a trilogy of follow-up novels penned by X-Men legend Chris Claremont, the Ron Howard-directed film, which turned 34 back in May, doesn't enjoy the same extended universe brand recognition as other major fantasy properties like Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings.

Lucasfilm hopes to change all that with the release of a Willow television series on Disney+ this fall, and while the project is going to face some stiff cultural competition from HBO's House of the Dragon and Prime Video's The Rings of Power, the show's producers aren't too worried. "Every time a trailer would air for one of these new series — like The Lord of the Rings or House of the Dragon — Ron and the producers and I would be like, 'We're still okay! We've got our own thing!'" co-showrunner Jonathan Kasdan told Empire during an interview for the magazine's August 2022 issue (now on sale).

He went on to compliment the performance of Warwick Davis, who reprises the character of Willow Ufgood from the original movie. "Warwick can't do anything without being hysterical," Kasdan added. "You see how much fun they're having. I think that distinguishes the tone of the show in a way we hope will really connect with people. The graveness and seriousness that a lot of fantasy has... maybe they'd like a break."

The project is very much a family affair for Davis, whose real-world child, Annabelle, portrays his daughter in the show. "Since she's been old enough, Annabelle's been forging her own career as an actress," said the proud father. "To get her onto Willow and have her play my daughter was really wonderful. We had some great scenes together and Jon [Kasdan] has already said that he sees a future for the character." 

The actor's 19-year-old son, Harrison, also took part in production as a stand-in during certain scenes. "He's exactly the same height and build as me, he walks the same as me — he's my perfect stunt double," Davis revealed. "So any time Dad looked a bit decrepit and like he'd get injured, it was, 'Come on Harrison, your turn to step up to the plate!'"

Joanne Whalley returns to the role of Sorsha, while Ellie Bamber (The Serpent), Ruby Cruz (Castle Rock), and Erin Kellyman (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) take on brand-new heroes. Kasdan — who co-wrote Solo: A Star Wars Story with his father, Lawrence Kasdan — serves as an executive producer alongside Ron Howard; fellow co-showrunner Wendy Mericle (Arrow); Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy; and Lucasfilm Senior VP of Live Action Development & Production, Michelle Rejwan.

Willow premieres on Disney+ Wednesday, Nov. 30.

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

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