Disney+ ‘Willow’ New Female Heroes Bring LGBTQ Love, Adult Elora Danan
Willow Ufgood never worked her magic alone in the 1998 adventure fantasy “Willow.”
The pure-hearted sorcerer wannabe (Warwick Davis) trusted a motley crew that included the drunken knight Madmartigan (Val Kilmer) and the warrior Sorsha (Joanne Whalley) on his epic adventure: to save the endangered baby Elora Danan, who is predicted to become empress.
More than 34 years later, Davis is back in the Disney+ series “Willow” (the first two episodes are streaming now) to save the world with a new generation of champions. The female-focused team includes Madmartigan and Sorsha’s daughter Princess Kit (Ruby Cruz), Kit’s protective childhood best friend Jade (Erin Kellyman) and resourceful kitchen helper Brunhilde, nicknamed Dove (Ellie Bamber).
Their search reveals budding LGBTQ love and the once-super-secret identity of now-adult Elora Danan. Here are the heroes of “Willow”.
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Princess Kit rides into adventure and new love
Cruz, 24, who had a breakout role in HBO’s 2021 drama “Mare of Easttown,” has her hands full portraying Princess Kit’s complicated family life. The young royal clashes with her overprotective, duty-oriented mother, Queen Sorsha (Whalley, reprising her film role), who pushes her daughter toward a strategic marriage to a prince (Tony Revolori). Kit’s other parent is the legendary Madmartigan, who disappeared when she was a child.
“In a way, she looks up to her parents and rejects them, especially having the bigger father Madmartigan, who is never around,” says Cruz.
Kit takes a chance on rescuing her kidnapped brother, Prince Airk (Dempsey Bryk), and asks her childhood best and blossoming lover Jade to join the rescue party.
“Their relationship is very special,” says Cruz. “I’m really proud of what we’ve put together, to construct an authentic representation of queerness and of two people falling in love. It was the greatest honor to tell the story of these two women.”
Protective Jade has a big heart, uses deadly sword
Kellyman made a big impact on screenwriter Jonathan Kasdan as the resilient resistance fighter Enfys Nest in 2018’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” As “Willow” executive producer, Kasdan wrote the noble knight-in-training Jade character for the 24-year-old British actress,
“Jonathan told me he had me in mind for Jade since ‘Solo’, which was a complete shock,” says Kellyman. – I was overwhelmed.
The warrior shift required Kellyman to trade his “Solo” staff for a “Willow” sword, and participate in a month of stunt training to become weapon and combat proficient.
“I’ve never had a prop before other than my staff, so it was great to be trained properly,” says Kellyman, who shows fierce skills. Nevertheless, she was still tormented with a sword and filmed a scene with Cruz who “took me right above the eyebrow. I had a big black eye after that. It wasn’t good.”
Depicting the evolving and confusing relationship between Jade and Kit was much more satisfying and long-term.
“It means so much to me to completely finish getting these grades right,” says Kellyman. “We wanted to make it believable for people watching who may have struggled to figure out their own sexuality.”
Dove is much more than a great muffin maker
After sparking intense love with the once-female Prince Airk, Dove (his nickname for her) quickly proves that she is much more than her boast of being “the best buttered muffin maker in all the land.”
She is the first to volunteer for the perilous search for her stolen lover despite a complete lack of combat skills.
“We kind of trick everyone into thinking she’s not going to be that useful on this mission. But they find out otherwise, pretty quickly. She’s got grit, grit and determination,” says Bamber, 25, who first made a splash as Cosette in the 2019 UK TV series ‘Les Misérables’.
While Bamber learned zombie-killing skill training for 2016’s Jane Austen action spoof “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” it’s Dove’s magical powers that prove to have the most impact. To her own surprise, she is revealed to be the adult Elora Danan, whose identity has been kept a secret (even from herself) for her safety.
“She really doesn’t believe in herself at first, and a lot of the characters around her don’t believe in her either,” says Bamber. “She goes on this journey of understanding and ultimately self-confidence with the help of everyone around her.”