A few days ago, I learned that the Disney+ Willow sequel series would be filming in Bridgend. Now, The Ronin has a neat scoop on who is directing at least some of the episodes. Stephen Woolfenden! Jon M. Chu was directing the first episode of the series but had to step away and was replaced by Jonathan Entwistle. Jon Kasdan who wrote Solo: A Star Wars Story, as well as an unused draft for the next Indiana Jones film, is the writer of the first episode. Kasdan will be the showrunner with Wendy Mericle.
The Ronin writes:
The Ronin can exclusively reveal that British director Stephen Woolfenden has joined Lucasfilm’s Willow series with production officially taking place in Wales. It’s unclear how many episodes he’ll be helming. The director’s television credits include Outlander, The Spanish Princess, Poldark, Doctor Who, Strike Back, and Fate: The Winx Saga.
In terms of being a genre filmmaker, Woolfenden seems like his resume was made for this series. I am curious as to how many episodes Woolfenden will direct. I believe the series will consist of 8 episodes (although IMDb only lists 5).
The Story and Cast
The first season is about the rescue of a kidnapped twin prince. Rather than saving the princess, the girls are saving the prince in this tale. This story takes place decades after the 1988 film. Willow Ufgood is presumably The High Aldwin now and will be played Warwick Davis who needs no introduction here.
The story is about a kitchen maid named Dove. She will become the “chosen one” archetype of the show. Dove will be played by Ellie Bamber:
Kit is the princess with the kidnapped twin brother. She will one day become the queen if the nefarious forces trying to stop her can be defeated. Kit will be played by Ruby Cruz:
Jade is Kit’s best friend. She is also a character with values who keeps everyone on the noble path. Kit is played by Erin Kellyman who played Enfys Nest in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Deadline reported that Tony Revolori will have a large part in the story as well. There is supposed to be a Madmartigan type character along for the adventure so I assume this could be Tony Revolori’s character.
Where does that leave the cast of Willow?
What happened to the characters from the film? Does this take the Shadow Moon novels into account? I really didn’t deeply love those books. Willow becomes “Thorn” and you quickly feel like you’re not reading a Willow sequel, in my opinion. It could explain away a lot of the missing heroes after the cataclysm who cannot or are not involved today. But what’s Elora up to? Are the brownies back?
In recent years Val Kilmer has had serious health issues so I do not expect him to return for the series. We also lost David J. Steinberg who played Megosh to suicide in 2004, and he will be missed here. Joanne Whalley who played Sorsha is currently still acting, so if the story does not take Shadow Moon into account, maybe Sorsha will return with the forces of Tir Asleen to save the day at one point?
I had hoped Ron Howard might direct one but I don’t think that is in the cards. There were assumptions Bryce Dallas Howard would be involved because of her recent successful employment at Lucasfilm with The Mandalorian. That does not appear to be the case here.
What I love about Willow is that it is a fantasy for all ages. I love Game of Thrones and I watch Lord of the Rings every so often but they really are either too adult or too slow for the faster more intense types and kids. They’re heavy and dark. Willow sits in that space where Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, The Neverending Story, Dragon Slayer, and Ladyhawke reside. I also think Willow was the best of those films. It was Star Wars doing Lord of the Rings cosplay and that’s how I like my fantasy films.
After Willow, we had Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones just dominate the fantasy landscape. How will that affect the series? This being episodic means it has the chance to grow and for us to dig deeper into the story. Will it sit next to it and pretend nothing has changed in cinema over the last few decades? The hiring of Woolfenden makes me think it is going to be updated and more modern than a directly derivative take. I think the exceptionally young cast is telling that the series will probably fall closer to the film and maybe with a bit of melodrama?
I hope we learn more details about the Willow sequel soon. I cannot wait to see what Willow looks like today. I just hope at one point he says “You are great!” When the trailer hit in the 88, as a kid, I was pumped when Willow said that. So please say that Willow!
I love Willow. I hope I love this series.