Everything we know about the Willow series (2024)

Fans of 1980s fantasy fare are in line for a new dose of Willow when the Disney+ series starring Warwick Davis debuts November 30, continuing the story of Ron Howard’s classic film. It’s been almost 35 years since the film debuted its tale of an unlikely hero (Warwick Davis) setting off to save the world by protecting a prophesied child, and it feels like we’ve been talking about a sequel for almost as long.

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Now that the show is almost here, we’re wondering where the story of Willow picks up, who it will follow, and what we can expect from this follow-up after three decades. But we already do know plenty about the series, including that Davis himself is back in the starring role, that it has a new ensemble cast (and fancy 2022 visual effects). Here’s everything we know about the show so far, from the cast to the story behind it.

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Years in the making

Talk of a Willow follow-up has been circulating around the nerdier corners of the internet for a very long time now, with whispers of Lucasfilm hoping to pursue another film dating at least as far back as 2005. Warwick Davis, who starred in the original film after working with co-writer and producer George Lucas on classics like Return Of The Jedi and Labyrinth, has been talking about it for almost as long. In a Gizmodo interview from 2013, he mused about a sequel and the potential for Willow’s world with 21st-century visual effects applied to the story.

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“I think it would be really interesting to explore the character when he’s older,” Davis said. “Has he become a better sorcerer? What’s going on with him? I think it could be really great because we’ve got the world established. Madmartigan, has he become a more sensible guy now, or is he still this warrior who is a bit of a loose cannon. We’ve established the world, we know the characters and now with the CG effects that we’ve achieved we can explore that world in even more detail and spectacle.”

Wishes for a Willow sequel eventually turned to proper development talks, and by the fall of 2020, the series had finally started to take shape under the leadership of writer Jonathan Kasdan, son of the legendary filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan (writer of Raiders Of The Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back, among other classics) and co-writer of Solo: A Story Wars Story. According to Kasdan, he’d been lobbying Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy to let him make a Willow sequel for quite some time when he met Willow (and Solo) director Ron Howard, who eventually joined the project as an executive producer. Now, we’re just weeks away from several more hours of Willow on Disney+.

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Familiar faces

If you make a Willow sequel without Willow himself, is it really Willow? Probably not, so it’s good news for everyone that Davis—who has seemed eager to return to the character for years—is back in the title role for the Disney+ series. A couple of decades older and wiser, Willow Ufgood seems to have retreated to the relative seclusion of his woodland home, where he remains as the series begins. He also, at least as far as the trailers have shown us, seems to have fulfilled his desire to become a great sorcerer, walking around with a glowing staff and a magical flamethrower, among other things. Willow’s next chapter kicks off when a band of young adventurers (more on them in a minute) seek his help to attempt a daring rescue mission, which will put his magical gifts to the test all over again.

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But Davis isn’t the only familiar face returning for the series. Joanne Whalley is also back as Sorsha, the daughter of the defeated evil Queen Bavmorda from the original film. Now a queen herself, she’s got a family and a kingdom to look after, and she’ll once again need Willow’s help to keep both safe. The show’s official trailer also revealed that Kevin Pollak and Rick Overton have also returned for the series as Willow’s Brownie friends, though how much they’ll be involved is anyone’s guess at this point.

Sadly, the other major player from the original film, Val Kilmer as the rakish mercenary Madmartigan, is not back for the series, but he is there in spirit. Creator Jonathan Kasdan noted that he’s had conversations with Kilmer about the character, and Madmartigan “lives on” as a “major figure in the story.”

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New adventurers

Though Warwick Davis is still the title character, much of the action in the Willow series will revolve around a new cast of characters who embark on an adventure of their own, and seek Willow’s help along the way. The incoming cast of newcomers is led by Ruby Cruz as Kit, Queen Sorsha’s daughter, who heads out on a rescue mission after her brother (the trailers imply that role belongs to Dempsey Bryk) is abducted by dark forces. Joining her on this mission are her best friend and aspiring knight Jade (Solo’s Erin Kellyman), a thief and warrior trying to win his freedom (Amar Chadha-Patel), and a kitchen maid on a mission of her own (Ellie Bamber). Tony Revolori, of The Grand Budapest Hotel and Spider-Man: Homecoming fame, is also a member of the adventuring party, though his role hasn’t been revealed in detail just yet.

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How each of these young actors will play into the larger story at work in Willow is still a mystery, as is much of the backstory leading up to the adventure which makes up the core narrative. However it all plays out, though, it all seems to hinge on one big question.

The big unanswered question

The original Willow centers on a baby, specifically Elora Danan, a prophesied princess who is fated to defeat evil and become the empress of the land, saving everyone from an age of darkness. Willow’s entire quest in the first film is to keep the child safe and prevent the evil Queen Bavmorda from completing a ritual that will put an end to the prophecy. Now it’s a couple of decades later in the world of the show, and Elora Danan is … where, exactly?

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Based on what we know of the series so far, Elora has not grown up to become the prophesied empress, and the quest that kicks off the show is to rescue a kidnapped prince, not a princess or empress that could be Elora. So what happened to her, why isn’t she ruling, and what bearing does that have on the story ahead? According to creator Jonathan Kasdan, that’s the central question of the entire series. Here’s how he explained it to Collider:

“The show is really about that question and about answering it and how it affects the lives of all these different people and how that character and that savior sort of figures into the future history of the world, and that was what we were going to do, and that was what I pitched them from day one, you know. We get to see what that little girl grew up to become. And the question is, where does she fit into our story, and at what point?”

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We’ll learn the answer to this question, and more, when Willow premieres on Disney+ on November 30.

Update 11/28: If you want to brush up on the original film before the new series premieres, you can catch Willow in select theaters tonight for one night only. The film will be followed by a Q&A and a sneak peek at the series.

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Disney+ has also released a new clip from the series, showcasing some of the new cast in a riveting chase scene:

Everything we know about the Willow series (2024)

FAQs

Why did Disney cancel Willow? ›

Disney canceled the television series after only one eight-episode season, and then it pulled the show off of Disney+ entirely for cost-cutting measures.

Will there be a season 2 of Willow? ›

EXCLUSIVE: There will be no second season of Willow, Disney+'s live-action original series based on the 1988 fantasy film directed by Ron Howard. The news comes two months after the eight-episode first season of the show, which served as a sequel to the classic movie, ended its run on the streaming platform.

How many episodes is Willow going to be? ›

Disney's reasons for axing fantasy streaming series Willow after just one season appear to be getting clearer as it has come to light that the budget for its eight episodes surged to a staggering $156.8 million (£125.5 million) giving each one an average cost of nearly $20 million.

How old was Warwick Davis on Willow? ›

Warwick Davis was only 17 years old during the shooting. George Lucas specifically wrote this film for Warwick Davis after meeting him on the set of "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)." The devil dogs were actually Rottweilers in rubber masks and suits.

Why did Willow flop? ›

Willow got off to a terrible start right out the gates. The show's tone felt directed at a teenage demographic that doesn't exist—but fits squarely outside the demographic most interested in this kind of fantasy: Kids and their parents.

Will Disney bring back Willow? ›

'Willow' Canceled After One Season On Disney+

The eight-episode first season premiered November 30, 2022 and concluded on January 11, 2023. As Deadline noted, while the series won't continue in its current form, Willow remains an important IP in the Lucasfilm library, so it may be revisited in the future.

Does the Willow series have an ending? ›

After eight episodes filled with danger and magic, Willow has reached its end. And while the series wraps up most of its plot threads, Willow still leaves some things open for an eventual Season 2.

Why did they cancel the Wolf Pack? ›

Sources say Paramount hoped the audience behind the series would have grown from Season 1 to Season 2, but due to the dual Hollywood strikes, the likelihood of that happening was cut short since production was stopped. Season 2 would've arrived roughly two years after Season 1 debuted.

Why isn't Willow on Disney Plus? ›

Willow was removed from Disney+ earlier this year as part of a cost-cutting measure that saw dozens of shows exit the service, as well as Hulu, on May 26. Other popular shows that found themselves axed were The World According To Jeff Goldblum and Y: The Last Man.

Was Peter Dinklage in Willow? ›

It's rumored but unconfirmed that Peter Dinklage appeared in the movie as one of the Nelwyns and is believed to be the Nelwyn dressed in pink who is seen with his arms crossed during Willow's disappearing pig trick early in the movie as the unknown actor bears a resemblance to Peter Dinklage.

Where is Willow filmed? ›

Produced by Lucasfilm, the series was mostly filmed in Wales in April 2021, and premiered on the streaming service Disney+ on November 30, 2022. In March 2023, the series was canceled after only one season, though Jonathan Kasdan stated that the series was on hiatus.

Who owns Willow TV? ›

What happened to Warwick's wife? ›

Warwick announced the news in a statement to the BBC, revealing she had died on 24 March. "Her passing has left a huge hole in our lives as a family. I miss her hugs," he said. "She was a unique character, always seeing the sunny side of life she had a wicked sense of humour and always laughed at my bad jokes."

Is Warwick Davis wife in Willow? ›

Personal life. Davis was married to Samantha (née Burroughs), the daughter of Davis' business partner Peter Burroughs and the sister of actress Hayley Burroughs, until her death on 24 March 2024. Davis met the Burroughs family while filming Willow, where Samantha and Peter had minor roles as Nelwyn villagers.

Was Warwick Davis an ewok? ›

A huge Star Wars fan, Davis auditioned successfully and was cast as an extra, playing an Ewok. Kenny Baker was cast as lead Ewok Wicket, but fell ill so George Lucas chose Davis to replace him.

Is Willow being removed from Disney Plus? ›

It's no secret that Willow is no longer available on Disney+, but the show's star, Warwick Davis, has slammed the company, saying it's all a bit embarrassing.

Why did Disney cancel The Owl House? ›

Despite all the misinformation and some caution behind some fans about Disney's pulling the plug on The Owl House, the real reason is branding. The show wasn't catering to the audience that Disney wanted it to.

Is Willow good Disney plus? ›

Critics Reviews

The Disney+ Willow series was a breath of fresh air, harkening back to a bygone era of onscreen epic fantasy more focused on being delightful than profound. Content collapsed.

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