Star Wars Celebration Anaheim kicked things off today with a string of announcements that extended beyond the reach of the galaxy far, far away. At Lucasfilm’s Studio Showcase, filmmakers and cast from Willow made a surprise appearance. The forthcoming series revives the world of Lucasfilm’s 1988 feature film.
Original film director Ron Howard and series creator Jonathan Kasdan appeared first to discuss the legacy of the classic fantasy adventure and the origins of the new series during their time working together on Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). “I was too young to see the original [Star Wars] movies in theaters,” Kasdan explained about his love for Willow. “For a lot of people, that was a big moment. But I’ll tell you what was a big moment for me. I was seven years old, and I went to the Village Theater in Westwood and I saw the teaser trailer for the next George Lucas adventure…”
According to Howard, after Kasdan had proposed the idea of a new Willow story, he suggested the series format. “George [Lucas] always believed in it in that format,” Howard said. For Kasdan, the key to the revival of the story was the return of its central character played by Warwick Davis.
To the delight of the thousands in attendance, Davis himself joined the filmmakers onstage. After commending Howard and Kasdan’s collaboration, he quipped that returning to the character of Willow after first playing him at age 18 made him feel old. “It’s something I always wanted to do,” he explained. “It’s a dream, and thanks to Ron and Jon…it came true. Making that original movie was one of the best experiences of my life, and I’d been in Star Wars!”
Actress Joanne Whalley then appeared to discuss her return as Sorsha, the villainess-turned-heroine in the original story. “This is amazing,” she remarked. “Who knew that one day we would be back here.” Whalley was delighted to have Sorsha’s sword in her hand once again.
Kasdan went on to explain that Willow the series takes place some 20 years after the events of the 1988 film, “or in Willow-speak, about 250 moons,” as he said. Among other new characters are three heroines from the kingdom of Tir Asleen “in search of the Nelwyn village and the most famous sorcerer on the planet, Willow Ufgood.” The actresses behind those heroines joined the group onstage, including Ruby Cruz (Kit), Ellie Bamber (Dove), and Erin Kellyman (Jade).