It’s been 34 years since we’ve seen Willow Ufgood defeat the evil queen Bavmorda and save the sweet redheaded baby Elora Danan from being banished to the Netherworld.
Warwick Davis, who played the title Nelwyn sorcerer and hero of Tir Asleen in Willow, never expected that he’d be back in the medieval digs he wore on set as a fresh-faced 17-year-old. Fast-forward from 1988 to 2022, and Davis is headed back to the Mother World, along with both an ensemble cast new to the budding franchise and some familiar faces from the original movie.
Davis tells Inverse that his callback to Willow’s realm of magic, monsters, and mischief wasn’t a recent surprise. The episodic series had, in fact, been brewed on the set of Solo: A Star Wars Story.
How Solo Led to Tir Asleen
“Willow [the series] was part of the evolution of meeting Jon Kasdan, the writer, while we were doing Solo: A Star Wars Story, in which I played Weazel. I wound up getting together with Jon, who pitched the idea that he’d love to do more Willow, and I said, ‘Well, I’m up for it!’” Davis says.
“When Ron Howard [who directed Willow] came on as Solo’s director, he also began to get involved in these conversations.” That was in 2017, and according to Davis, the project got serious as soon as Solo wrapped. “Before we knew it, we were in Wales last year actually making the series we had all been dreaming of. So, yeah, it was hugely exciting!”
Jon Kasdan tells Inverse that he had always been a huge fan of Willow, and as a 43-year-old, he grew up “at the right age” to be a die-hard fan today. “I was eight when it came out. A Willow spinoff was something that was always sort of percolating in the back of my mind. The doorway had been shut for a long time, but it could easily be reopened by the right filmmaker.”
When Kasdan arrived on Solo as a writer in 2017 and met Howard, it became clear that he’d also had visions for a Willow sequel, and had been plotting to make it happen for some time. “We were well matched to each other, and we spent about eight months together on Solo and started talking pretty regularly [about Willow].”
Kasdan notes that the real turning point came when Disney+ launched, and The Mandalorian became Lucasfilm’s first live-action television show. It was a roaring success right from the jump, so he and Howard saw Disney+ as an opportunity to continue the Willow legacy. “I couldn’t have been more eager or amped to help him do that,” Kasdan says.
Returning to Star Wars
If Willow finds a fanbase, it could be a boon to Davis’ image. Could another Star Wars project follow it? He is, after all, a longtime Lucasfilm regular. He got his start in 1983’s Return of the Jedi, where he played an Ewok, and he charmed the cast so much that Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) is said to have showered him in Star Wars action figures.
From there, Warwick continued to play Ewoks in Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, when George Lucas and Ron Howard proposed a lead role. Willow was Davis’ first gig where his face was visible, and from there his career became prolific, but he always kept returning to his Star Wars roots. So, is Davis down to continue his decades-long Star Wars journey?
“Absolutely. I mean, Ron has got to be my favorite director. He’s an actor’s director because he himself was an actor as a young person, and he knows what an actor needs on set. He needs to say very few, key ‘director phrases’ to allow you to get the performance that he wants. He’s clear and concise. As for Jon, well, he’s an amazing friend, a good friend of mine, and he’s so creative when it comes to this stuff.”
Kasdan echoes Davis’ sentiments. He’s prepared to dive back into Star Wars “in a heartbeat,” assuming there’s a place for him.
“If there is a place for me [in Star Wars], and I’m not sure at the moment if there is, then I’d love to work back with those two guys [Howard and Davis]. I mean, that ‘galaxy far, far, away’ has always felt very kind, welcoming, and a homely place for me. I’ve been to it a lot during my career, so I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to go back there again.”
Star Wars, as Kasdan notes, has no shortage of projects in the works right now. He would be happy to contribute, but would also be happy to just sit back and enjoy Andor and The Acolyte as a fan. In the meantime, the Mother World needs his attention.
Willow Episodes 1 and 2 premiere on Disney+ on November 30.