Willow, a six-episode sequel to the beloved 1988 George Lucas and Ron Howard fantasy movie, is set to release on Disney+ Hotstar on November 30. Given the generational love for the original movie, and the significant amount of time that has since passed, expectations for its successor are high. If the initial episodes are any indication, however, they've been met, thanks to a strong cast, excellent pacing and a fun vibe. Tony Revolori, who plays Prince Graydon, and Ellie Bamber, who plays the kitchen maid Dove, spoke about their characters, working with the cast of the original and what they think will appeal to new fans.
The fantasy genre has had a lot to offer audiences recently, across streaming and movies. What sets Willow apart? And what about the show do you think will appeal to a new generation of viewers?
Ellie: I think they’ll come to see how fun it really is, and how it turns traditional fantasy tropes on their heads. It's a bit cheeky with those tropes, it plays with them. We don’t have a female damsel in distress… we have Dempsey Byrk, who plays (the prince) Airk. So playing with those modern tropes was really cool, and it updates Willow, giving it a modern twist.
Speaking about updating – you got to work with the cast of the beloved original Willow movie. What was that experience like? Was it a bit of a passing of the torch to the next-gen? Were you set on doing your own thing?
Tony: A little bit of everything. With Warwick (Davis, who played the dwarf Willow) on set with us constantly, we were able to ask him questions, hear stories of the original film, and feel the passion he had for this story and this world. That passion and love passed on to us. The same is true for Joanne Whalley, who reprised her role as Sorsha, and Kevin Pollock, who reprised his role as Rool. They really welcomed us, let us do our own thing and let us create this new series.
Spoilers aside, Ellie, could you tell us more about your character in the series?
Tony: Don’t spoil anything!
Ellie: My character goes on a huge journey of self-discovery of who she is as a woman, and how she is placed amongst these individuals who go on a quest in Willow. She has to come to terms with a few things she learns about herself. It’s her coming-of-age story, of overcoming self-doubt with determination and extreme bravery.
Tony, you've spoken about diversity in big-scale series or movies. Willow has a diverse cast, do you think helps with global viewership?
Tony: Oh yes, absolutely. The original Willow film has diversity in its DNA. Warwick, who was its lead, was an unlikely hero way back then. The series takes the next step forward. You have Amar (Chadha-Patel) who plays Boorman, a reserved, noble character that would usually be reserved for a tall White guy, and then you have me. It's extremely important for people to be able to see themselves on screen. And the fact that we don’t have to explain anything (diversity-wise), and things are just the way they are, is extremely important. I think it's helpful for everyone around the world, and for the future. It's also not just with race - we have three strong, amazing female leads. The damsel in distress is Dempsey, who’s our resident handsome White guy.
Do you have a message for your fans in India, and for Film Companion readers? What should they expect from Willow?
Tony: They should watch the series because it’s fun – it’s a phenomenal time. In a world that has a lot of darkness, this is a fun, escapist show that has a sense of levity. Watch it wherever – snuggled in with a glass of wine or tea, and some snacks. It’s old-fashioned fun, which the world needs more of. I hope you really enjoy it in India.
Ellie: I hope everyone loves the show. We had such a great time making it. We created such wonderful friendships and I hope that chemistry shines through. And yes, there’s hope – a lot of the hope we have in real life is transported into the show. So yes, a lot of hope in Willow – come for that.