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'Willow' creator and cast explain the Disney+ premiere and THAT big reveal moment

The Willow series creator and cast spill the willow bark tea about the premiere episodes!

(L-R): Dove (Ellie Bamber), Kit (Ruby Cruz), Boorman (Amar Chadha-Patel), Graydon (Tony Revolori) and Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) in Lucasfilm's WILLOW exclusively on Disney+.

If you saw Willow when it opened in 1988 and wondered, in the interim 34 years, "whatever happened to little Elora Danan?" turns out you weren't alone. That specific question helped usher in the premiere of Willow the series on Disney+. As series creator Jon Kasdan tells SYFY WIRE, he's been wondering about that prophesized baby since he first saw the movie at age eight. 

"Even as a young child, and it's something I've only really felt like I've articulated in the last couple days, I was always a little upset by that moment when Willow kissed her goodbye at the end of the movie," Kasdan says of the original film's ending. "I thought, 'How could you get that close to a child and then just say goodbye to them, and leave them in the arms of someone else?' I was always sort of yearning for more about that relationship."

Ron Howard and George Lucas, the architects behind the movie, agreed that there should have been more to the story, and now Kasdan has finally given fans of the mythology the answer to what happens next. The Disney+ series — which stars two actors from the original film: Warwick Davis as the eponymous wizard and Joanne Whalley as Queen Sorsha — premiered its first two episodes today, Nov. 30. SYFY WIRE spoke with Kasdan and several actors in his ensemble cast to reminisce about those early days of shooting the series, the inspirations behind their characters and that big 'ole reveal at the end of Episode 1 that confirms the ultimate journey at the heart of the show.


ORIGIN STORY

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

Willow, the series, has an epic quest at its heart, which forces the Nelwyn sorcerer to once again leave his comfort zone to help the greater good. Did the spine of the series story make itself known to you easily or was that struggle to figure out?

Jon Kasdan (Creator/Showrunner): There was an organic quality to how this story developed. What was sort of implied by the movie with Warwick was this insecure guy yearns to be great at something and by the end of it has success. But it's a dubious success, a little bit. He confounds the enemy, he doesn't actually overpower the enemy. So when starting to think about that, we thought how could that victory resonate in Willow's life 25 years down the road? What does that make him think about himself and his own confidence? One thing we thought was interesting — and  I certainly thought was interesting growing up in the movie business — is what if he's wracked by insecurity? And what if his failures and people's expectations of him haunt him, to some extent? And they particularly come to haunt him when he's thrust into the role of having to be a mentor and a teacher. That felt really natural to the story we wanted to tell. Because on the other side of it, here was this young woman who also had all this expectation and pressure put on her. She was only just discovering the power she had, and how she was gonna both master it, and then how she would use it, ultimately.


FAMILY TIES

(Center): Sorsha (Joanne Whalley) in Lucasfilm's WILLOW exclusively on Disney+.

Kit and Airk, was there a "sibling boot camp" you threw yourself into so you could bond in real life to better play the twin children of Sorsha and Madmartigan?

Dempsey Bryk (Airk): I feel like our twin dynamic of twin-ergy was natural. It was immediate. But we did have a boot camp, which was helpful for everybody to bond.

Ruby Cruz (Kit): Yeah, to all get to know each other. But I think, for us, it was very immediate. Sort of like, "Oh, I've known you before in a past life and I can feel comfortable around you." And just with us getting to know each other and hanging out outside of work, which I think really translated. And with Joanne too. She's just so motherly. She's just such a grounding, calming force. Honestly, it fell into place very easily.

Bryk: The thing to me that was helpful with Joanne and Warwick, and everyone who was a part of the original, even the people who just loved the original, was that they care so much about it and it means so much. When you're walking into something where you already have a whole collective of people who really care about it then it's very easy to invest yourself fully. That was a thing for me that she did and Warwick did, and everybody did, that was really helpful. 


THE LOVER AND THE FIGHTER

(L-R): Jade (Erin Kellyman), Graydon (Tony Revolori), Boorman (Amar Chadha-Patel) and Kit (Ruby Cruz) in Lucasfilm's WILLOW exclusively on Disney+.

Jade starts the series with a long-standing, close friendship with Kit. There's plenty of simmering chemistry between them. Can you talk about how Jade deals with that as they embark on this quest together to find Airk and Willow?

Erin Kellyman (Jade): I think Jade as a person just pushes down everything that she feels. She's quite nervous to express any sort of emotion. And maybe that's because of her environment and her training to become this knight. They have to keep in line and keep to the rules and keep strong. For her, that translates into, "I'll just push everything down, then." I also think she has this relationship with Kit where she wants to keep that respect. Even though they're best friends, she has been trained by knights and Kit's a princess at the end of the day. She can't just go expressing love for the princess, so she keeps things very professional at the start. 

Boorman's the muscle for hire on the quest, but also the comic relief. Were there any particular performances that Kasdan pointed you towards as inspiration or that you found to build the character to fit you?

Amar Chadha-Patel (Boorman): There were a few. To be honest, when the first cast breakdown came in, it described him as the Han Solo and the Jack Sparrow of the group. What was really nice for me is when I read that, I knew that I could channel that. And as a South Asian man, we don't get to do that very often. I was really excited to show that. I was like, "I get these references. This is my childhood and I can't wait to do this!" And then we built that character, Jon and I together, and Stephen Woolfenden who was our first director. A huge influence on "Boorman" was Toshiro Mifune from Yojimbo and Seven Samurai. He's got this messy gait where he's scouting all the time but he's got intelligence behind his eyes. I didn't want to go too close to any archetypes that we already know and [Mifune] was in me. I wanted to craft him with these sorts of sloppy samurai fighters, so that was what we tried to bring to it. 


CHILD OF THE PROPHECY

Dove (Ellie Bamber) in Lucasfilm's WILLOW exclusively on Disney+

At the end of Episode 1, when the band of heroes finally reaches Willow, he reveals that Dove is actually the grown-up Elora Danan. It's a pivotal moment for the character and in revealing the true protagonist of the series. Was that reveal always placed in that specific spot in the series?

Kasdan: Yes. It was always the reason to do this story, for us. I thought the opportunity existed to tell a story about learning how to be a sorceress, and I wanted to tell that story. I knew that I could only hold that back for a very short period of time if that's where we were headed with the adventure as a whole.

Ellie, talk about shooting that reveal scene.

Ellie Bamber (Dove/Elora): I was excited for that moment! It was an interesting day. We were in these beautiful woods. Also, the moment when Warwick steps out is so epic. I just remember seeing him step out and being like, "Oh, wow, this is crazy!" And then, "Oh, God, this is about to happen!"' It was an exciting moment for her.

Tony Revolori (Graydon): It was an exciting moment for all of us, to be honest. Even the moment where he steps up to you, and his wand actually glows when he puts his hand on her. And seeing the birthmark for the first time, I was like, "Wow, this is pretty cool." It's one of those scenes where even though you're in it, you're like, "I cannot wait to watch this!"

New episodes of Willow the series premiere Wednesdays on Disney+.

Looking for more fantasy epics? Check out Peacock.

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