Disney+ confirms Willow series
October 21, 2020
By Nik Roseveare
Celebrated cult movie Willow, the George Lucas fantasy epic released in 1988, will be returning as a Disney+ sequel series slated to begin production next year. The story’s namesake hero, Willow Ufgood, will once again be portrayed by Hollywood actor Warwick Davis.
Jon M. Chu is set to direct the pilot, and will serve as executive producer along with showrunners Jonathan Kasdan and Wendy Mericle. Jonathan Kasdan has scripted the pilot.
“Growing up in the ’80s, Willow has had a profound effect on me,” commented Chu. “The story of the bravest heroes in the least likely places allowed me, an Asian-American kid growing up in a Chinese restaurant looking to go to Hollywood, to believe in the power of our own will, determination and of course, inner magic. So the fact that I get to work with my heroes from Kathleen Kennedy to Ron Howard is bigger than a dream come-true. It’s a bucket-list moment for me. Jon Kasdan and Wendy Mericle have added such groundbreaking new characters and delightful surprises to this timeless story that I can’t wait for the world to come along on this epic journey with us.”
Chu directed the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical In the Heights, which is set to be released in June 2021.
Ron Howard, director of the original Willow film, returns as executive producer on the series with Bob Dolman, writer of the original film, serving as consulting producer.
“It’s creatively exciting to not only revisit the world and characters first conceived by George Lucas, Bob Dolman and myself but to see it take flight in such fresh, fun and cinematic ways through the imagination of Jon Kasdan and Team Willow,” said Howard. “This isn’t a nostalgic throw-back, it’s a creative lean-forward and it’s a blast to be a part of it all.”
The series, which is Lucasfilm’s first venture into non-Star Wars storytelling since 2015, takes place years after the events of the original Willow film.
“So many fans have asked me over the years if Willow will make a return, and now I’m thrilled to tell them that he will indeed,” says Davis. “Many have told me they grew up with ‘Willow’ and that the film has influenced how they view heroism in our own world. If Willow Ufgood can represent the heroic potential in all of us, then he is a character I am extremely honored to reprise.”
“This is an exciting new era for storytelling at Lucasfilm,” says Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. “Jon Chu’s vision, coupled with the writing of Jon Kasdan and Wendy Mericle, is going to take Willow into new and exciting directions for the series. Reuniting Ron Howard and Warwick Davis in the world of ‘Willow’ is something that they’ve both wanted to do for some time, and I couldn’t be more proud of the incredible team we’ve put together to bring this series to Disney+.”
The production plans to return to the dramatic landscapes of Wales where much of the original film was shot.