Disney+ ‘Willow’ series ‘keeps the magic alive’ with Warwick Davis, Ruby Cruz, Tony Revolori
George Lucas and Ron Howard’s 1988 film Willow starring Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley and Warwick Davis wasn’t a massive box office success but achieved cult fandom, and now the Disney+ series of the same name, a sequel to the film, brings fun and charm to this fantasy adventure.
Set years after Willow (Davis) and Sorsha (Whalley) defeated Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh) in the film, all in the quest to protect the infant empress Elora Danan, Tir Asleen is threatened once again.
When Prince Airk (Dempsey Bryk), son of Queen Sorsha (reprised by Whalley), is captured, an unlikely group comes together to save him and the kingdom, including Sorsha’s daughter Kit (Ruby Cruz) and Prince Graydon (Tony Revolori ), whom Kit is meant to marry. They are joined by Kit’s best friend Jade (Erin Kellyman), local criminal Boorman (Amar Chadha-Patel) and Dove (Ellie Bamber), a young girl who works in Queen’s Sorsha’s kitchen and had a romantic relationship with Airk. Of course, the team needs some expert help for their quest, with Willow Ufgood (Davis) returning to her adventuring days for this mission.
From watching seven of the eight episodes in the series, Willow is set to be one of the highlights when it comes to Disney+ sequels and redesigned shows on the platform.
“Keeping the magic alive” and showing the “messiness” young women experience
An aspect of the 1980s Willow film that has been celebrated is the fact that it felt very modern, compared to other fantasy films of the era. For this series, as Tony Revolori described, it was “keeping the magic alive” while really focusing on the humanity of each character that makes it feel so current as well.
“It’s a fantasy world, so we get a lot of fun with it, but what they go through and what their struggle is is very relatable,” Revolori said Yahoo Canada. “I think that at its core is what made the original movie very modern, and what will hopefully make this show so modern.”
“I also think that something wonderful about fantasy is that we can confront these really real issues, these very complicated things, but they manifest in real monsters,” Ruby Cruz added. “Our demons and our monsters are right in front of us, which is also really fun and rewarding to actually kill the things you’re going through.”
By moving the story forward until something is explored in 2022, without spoiling too much of the plot, Kit really expands the scope of what and who a princess can be, especially a prince in a Disney property. We’re going to move past the days when princesses just wait for a prince to rescue them, or have a large part of their history and identity based on their romance with a man.
“Definitely a dream come true honestly, to be able to represent the complications and messiness and hardheadedness and all these things that young women definitely go through but you never really see,” Cruz said Yahoo Canada. “Truth, that’s what we’re all about. I think it was a wonderful opportunity to represent something real and something authentic.”
The author of ‘Dawson’s Creek’ and ‘Freaks and Geeks’ brings wit
In the first seven of eight episodes in Willow series, the wit and humor in the script is a highlight, not unlike the film, but that makes the series incredibly endearing. That’s exactly what you want to see, especially when you have showrunner Jonathan Kasdan at the helm, who wrote for Solo: A Star Wars Storybut also Dawson’s Creek and Misfits and nerds.
For the actors, they identified that Kasdan really explored their off-screen, personal relationships and dynamics with each other for on-screen content. One relationship to pay particular attention to is this charmingly funny “bromance” that develops between Boorman and Prince Graydon.
“It’s one of those things where Jonathan Kasdan,…he kind of encouraged our own chemistry to seep into the show,” Tony Revolori explained. “When he saw us hanging out, it would either be me and Ellie [Bamber] or [Ruby Cruz] and Erin [Kellyman]Whatever the combinations were, he put them in the script.”
“When it happened, it kind of gave me and Amar [Chadha-Patel] jumped off the point and then just dove into the deep end of what we could do, and boy did we.”
With each new piece of content having a previous legacy to uphold, it can be difficult to move beyond what was created in the past. While Val Kilmer was not on set for the first season of Willow series, the presence of Joanne Whalley and Warwick Davis is so nice and welcome, whether you are a massive or more passive fan of the film.
Something particularly interesting along the way Willow mixing elements from the film with the new elements of the series is that Davis actually got to work with his children, Annabelle and Harrison, on the show.
“He was so sweet, he’s an incredible actor and he’s so quick and so funny, and it was a treat to work with him,” Revolori said of working with Davis. “He was able to give us stories about the original and kind of show what it meant to him.”
“[He was] 17 when he did the original film and he got to work with his son and his daughter in this one, and both are young… We could see how much it meant to him and it made us want to work even harder, beyond love as people has for the original film. Just seeing how much he cares about it made us all want to work a little harder.”