From Lucasfilm and Imagine Entertainment comes Willow, an all-new sequel series based on George Lucas' 1988 fantasy-adventure movie of the same name.
The show premiered on November 30, with new episodes dropping every Wednesday, exclusively on Disney+. The show features the return of the iconic Nelwyn sorcerer played by Warwick Davis, years after he rescued the infant empress Elora Danan.
Leading a group of misfit heroes on a harrowing rescue mission through a world beyond imagination, what follows is an action-packed fantastical adventure. Last month, we sat down with writer and executive producer Jon Kasdan to discuss bringing viewers back to this world decades after the beloved cut classic movie was released.
During the course of our conversation, Jon talks about why Wales was the perfect shooting location for Willow, finding the right balance between attracting new and old fans alike, and the challenges of assembling the perfect cast.
The filmmaker also addresses the #MakeSolo2Happen campaign, sharing his hopes for a Solo: A Star Wars Story sequel.
Check out our full interview in the player below.
I believe you filmed the series in my home country, Wales, and while I know the movie was also partially shot there, I’d love to know what made that the right location for this sequel?
Well, you know, the look of the original movie, I associate so closely with those Welsh landscapes. There’s a tactile reality to the movie that’s a big part of why it was so powerful to me. You saw the image of this little guy bundled up against the rain and the mud, and everything was dirty, and it was a real place. You were really there with him and Madmartigan.
The first thing we wanted to do, and were determined to achieve, was that sense of reality. Going back to Wales and having that be our home base was a no-brainer. Compounded by the fact there was a beautiful studio there called Dragon Studios, appropriately named, that was there to be our home and become that in the best sense.
It’s been such a long time since the movie was released, and while there is a passionate fanbase out there, what was the biggest challenge you faced in terms of making the show a satisfying experience for them and newcomers to the franchise?
You’ve really hit on the challenge. As a die-hard Willow fan myself and a kid who grew up on it, I was never worried that I wasn’t going to come at it with anything but love and admiration and desire to squeeze in every possible reference and texture from the original movie that I could sustain for this sequel. I saw this very much as a continuation of that film, but one of its virtues, at least for me, is that Val brought to it such originality and contemporary sound, that I thought it was also incumbent on us to do that in ‘22. The way we did that was with a cast that each brought a different element to the table and play off Warwick in different and really fun and exciting ways. What’s great is that every one of them got to have real scenes with him and really partner with this character who grounds the whole series in reality.
You put together a great young cast of actors to join Warwick in the series, but how did you decide on the combination of characters you’d assemble for this epic road trip story?
Some of the casting was very easy and almost happened without much work at all. Erin Kellyman and I had been on the set of Solo together. I knew her work and the physicality and soulfulness she brought to everything she did. There was a guarantee in my mind that it was going to be part of this equation. When Ellie Bamber came in, I thought, ‘This is Elora Danan, the grown-up version of this baby that I’d seen in the movie.’ There was no one else for that.
With Tony Revolori, I was a huge fan of his work long before I ever got to meet him, and the humour and reactive humour, specifically, that he brings to The Grand Budapest Hotel is the kind of thing you want on any adventure story like this. People like Amar Chadha-Patel, a total gift, who just won it in the room, completely. I had never heard of him before. He was a skinny, rail-thin guy who said, ‘Jon, I’m going to put on sixty pounds of muscle,’ to which I said, ‘Bullshit!’ He went and did it and it’s a remarkable transformation and is now the only person who could have ever been Boorman.
It’s been a remarkable journey of getting to find all these actors and bring them together.
You mentioned Solo, and like a lot of fans, I’m there every year Tweeting #MakeSolo2Happen…
Yes, you know, I’ve been very conflicted about it over the past couple of years. I feel that too. I’m certainly one of those people, and when that time of year rolls around, immediately, my imagination goes to all the things we intended to do. But then, on the other side, I’m so overwhelmed by how much great Star Wars content is coming into the world at this moment. I’m excited for the movie that Damon Lindelof is going to make. I’m excited for another season of Andor, possibly the best Star Wars show in history. Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau are just knocking out great, fun pieces of candy every six months that we get to enjoy. You know, I think if there’s a reason for a Solo 2 is if there’s a great reason. Certainly, I’d be game if there were.
I know I’d love to see if Han Solo ever crossed paths with Maul because what a tease that was.
Me too! That feels like there’s so much fun. That was another version of there were so many great characters we were able to establish and, for me, I guess the strangest argument for a Solo 2 is that the movie was Alden’s journey to owning that mantle. By the end of it, I thought he really did, and he didn’t get the fun of just inhabiting it for a movie. I’d love to see him back.
Do you think Willow season 2 could become a reality down the line?
I hope so. We’re certainly working at it and I’m begging Kathy because working with these actors and this crew of filmmakers on this show has been the best experience. We still feel like there are a lot of stories and bigger places to visit.
The first three episodes of Willow are now streaming on Disney+.