In a charmed career that began way back in 1982 in an Endor forest and has spanned hit franchises, TV shows and so much more it takes something very special to surprise one of entertainments busiest men, but that’s exactly what happened when Warwick Davis learned of the return of one of his most popular films Willow in the form of a TV series coming to Disney Plus.
Davis said that while he’d hoped to do a sequel for some time, the eventual genesis of the project was rather fortuitous. “Everything sort of aligned when we did the movie Solo,” he explains. “The writer Jon Kasdan was a huge fan of Willow, he grew up watching it and it’s one of the things that inspired him to become a screenwriter, as well as his Dad (The Empire Strikes Back co-writer Lawrence Kasdan).
“And then Ron Howard came into direct and Jon mentioned to him that he was a big fan of Willow and that got them talking. And I was on Solo looking a little bit like Willow with my long hair as Weazel, and all these things came together. We took it to Disney+ and they were as excited as we were about it and greenlit the series.”
Production is slated to start on the project next year, and despite more than 30 years having passed since he last played the character, Davis isn’t too concerned about reprising the role – “it’s just like riding a bike”, he claims. That’s not to say he isn’t expecting any challenges: he acknowledges that there will be extra physical challenges now that he’s older, for example, but mainly he’s just excited to see where the character goes.
“I’m hoping that we establish Willow as a very accomplished sorcerer now,” he says. “I hope he’s been practicing and we get to see him do some real magic, which would be fabulous. And also I’m hoping that we can reunite with Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley as well!”
Delayed sequels to iconic films and TV shows from previous decades have been all the rage in recent years, and Davis puts that down to the comfort that can be found in nostalgia. And he says that the most important thing when it comes to revisiting classics like this is staying true to the spirit of the original, something which he’s confident will be the case on Willow. “I think you’ve got to acknowledge the spirit, and, especially with something like Willow, the humour,” he says. “Because you forget that the movie had a lot of humour in it so it’s important that the series has that humour and doesn’t take itself too seriously.”
He’s also looking forward to seeing how the series can take advantage of the significant technological developments that have been made since the original film was shot. Davis says he’s been reading up on some of the methods used to film The Mandalorian, where sets have often been fully replaced by digital screens, and he wonders if similar methods might be used for Willow. “It’s amazing what you can achieve now,” he says. “If someone is writing a script it can now be put on the screen exactly as it’s written. It didn’t use to be like that, you used to have to edit the script a bit to make it possible, but now anything’s possible.”