Disney Plus has revived 1988 film Willow, which starred Warwick Davis, and rebooted the classic as a TV series.
The 2022 TV adaptation features new and old cast and is set many years after the events of the movie directed by Ron Howard.
Meanwhile, the film follows the journey of young Willow, a farmer who is drawn into a dangerous adventure in an effort to protect a baby who is being sought after by an evil queen.
Harry Potter actor Warwick confirmed ago years ago he would be returning to the George Lucas sequel, but who else is in the cast?
Offbeat fantasy doesn’t get much better than Ron Howard’s Willow. The 1988 film may have played out like a by-the-numbers epic about plucky heroes overcoming despotic evils, but its reputation as an all-ages adventure outweighs its triteness.
Now, with a sequel series on Disney+ (premiering today), Willow Ufgood (again played by Warwick Davis) and the denizens of this quirky universe make their long-awaited return. Luckily, judging by the first three episodes, Disney may have a new family favorite on its hands.
Here is everything you need to know about Willow and who stars in the Disney Plus drama.
What is Willow about and when is it released?
The TV reboot of the classic film is set ‘many years’ after the events of the movie, according to Disney Plus.
The official synopsis reads: ‘Willow, the legendary sorcerer, returns in a new series set many years after the events of the original film.
‘Willow leads a group of misfit heroes on a dangerous rescue mission through a world beyond their wildest imaginations.’
The first two episodes of Willow land on Disney Plus on Wednesday November, 30.
The following six instalments will drop at weekly intervals.
Who is in the cast of Willow?
Fans rejoiced when it was announced Warwick, 52, would be reprising his role of sorcerer Willow Ufgood.
In the eight-parter, Willow will lead the six heroes as they set off on a dangerous quest to rescue the twin brother of a princess.
Since he starred in the OG films 34 years ago, Warwick has appeared in Star Wars and Harry Potter, also well as Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s sitcom Life’s Too Short.
Ellie joins the Willow cast as Dove, a kitchen maid who decides to embark on the dangerous adventure to save their world.
The 25-year-old has also been seen in Tom Ford’s feature film, Nocturnal Animals, alongside Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal, as well as BBC series The Trial of Christine Keeler.
She also featured in the TV adaptation of Les Misérables, in which she played Cosette, in a cast featuring Dominic West and Lily Collins.
Tony plays Graydon, a young scholar and member of the quest in the 2022 reboot of Willow.
Elsewhere, the 26-year-old has appeared in Wes Anderson’s film The Grand Budapest Hotel and in MCU films.
He was nominated for multiple awards for playing Flash Thompson alongside Tom Holland and Zendaya in Spider-Man.
Erin portrays knight-in-training Jade, who is also Kit’s (Ruby Cruz) best friend in Willow.
The newcomer, 24, starred as Enfys Nest in Solo: A Star Wars Story and alongside current co-star Ellie in Les Misérables.
On Disney Plus, she has also featured in The Falcon and the Winter Solider, which is set in the MCU.
Joanne, 61, is returning as Sorsha in Willow after starring in the original film where she met ex-husband Val Kilmer.
As well as the hit fantasy drama, she was nominated for a Bafta in Edge of Darkness and was in Marvel series Daredevil.
One of her very first acting gigs was Pamela Graham in three episodes of long-running soap Coronation Street.
Ruby joins Willow as Kit, a princess and daughter of Sorsha who sets in motion a quest to rescue her twin brother.
The actor has also appeared in the hit drama Mares of Easttown, which starred Kate Winslet.
Rising star Amar is Boorman in Willow, a thief and swordsman who is offered freedom from prison if he joins the quest.
Elsewhere, the performer played DJ Dave in an episode of Sex Education and a small role in 2019 film, Aladdin.
In Willow, Dempsey is Airk, a prince and son of Sorsha and Kit’s twin brother.
Dempsey has also been in CBC’s multigenerational saga Heartland and drama Coroner as Caleb Browning.
The plot here is straightforward: Twenty years after Willow and Sorsha (Joanne Whalley) defeated the wicked Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh), Sorsha’s daughter, Kit (played by Ruby Cruz), and a ragtag group of misfits must rally against a new threat hell-bent on their destruction.
On paper, it’s pretty standard stuff. In practice, it’s far better.
One of the things showrunner Jonathan Kasdan does best here is emphasize just how much the new characters run the show. Kit, the ostensible protagonist, is snarky, likable and insecure. Dove (Ellie Bamber) is the classic underdog with more than enough strength and courage to prove herself. Tony Revolori’s Prince Graydon is a sympathetic inversion of the boneheaded, next-in-line archetype, a gentle youngster with a heart of gold and a knack for seeing others’ strengths. This guy doesn’t want this marriage any more than Kit does, and every mention of their imminent union shuts him down.
And as much as we miss Val Kilmer’s Madmartigan, the story doesn’t need him. Here, it’s two characters, not one, who fill the “quippy swashbuckler” void that his absence creates. The first is Boorman (Amar Chadha-Patel), a rogue swordsman imprisoned in the dungeons beneath the city. The second is Jade (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘s Erin Kellyman), an ambitious young warrior on the cusp of knighthood who serves as a self-serious foil for the more playful Kit. Together, they scratch this particular itch — and have a blast doing it.
Davis is at the top of his game, turning in what may be the series’ standout performance (right and proper). His return as Willow Ufgood proves every bit as gentle, endearing and good-natured as it was in the original, but here he adds layers to the character. As powerful as Willow is, he frequently contends with those who underestimate him. Most of the time, this doesn’t seem to bother him; but sometimes, especially when casting a complex spell, he lets self-doubt slip into his eyes and — very fleetingly — contorts his face into a mask of insecurity. Davis communicates this turmoil beautifully, expertly flitting from comical exasperation to crippling uncertainty before defaulting to his no-nonsense demeanor.
Couple top-notch acting with engaging visuals and you’ve got a sequel that’s shaping up to be even more fun than its predecessor. Everything from the costume design to the resplendence of Willow’s spellcasting oozes passion for the material. Kasdan and company truly care about this story and every detail reflects that.
Even more striking than its characters and its visuals, though, is how inventive Willow is with its perspectives. The opening minutes of the premiere cleverly establish a mystery that fans of the film almost certainly won’t see coming. It’s a classic case of writers taking a concept further than they have to and turning it into a superior version of itself.
Willow is a bouncy, buoyant sequel that leans heavily on the new cast and makes good on the unspoken promise that all great follow-ups inherently make: enrich what came before by diving deeper into why this world and its characters resonated in the first place. The final product is something that stands as well on its own as it does as a continuation of Ron Howard’s classic film.
Willow premieres today on Disney Plus.
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