Returning to a beloved fictional world is one of the best feelings we can have as fantasy fans.
In the new Disney+ series Willow, we’re getting to do just that as showrunner Jon Kasdan continues the story established in George Lucas and Ron Howard’s delightful dark fantasy from 1988. Decades after Willow Ufgood saved the world from evil, this series follows the daughter of his allies Madmartigan and Sorsha as she enlists Willow to help find her kidnapped brother. Soon they’re on an escapade through the kingdom with a party of unexpected adventurers hoping to find the true empress, Elora Danan (the chubby baby from the original film).
If you want to know who’s who as you watch, we’ve got you covered as Kasdan and actress Ruby Cruz help us to walk through the new cast and their roles in Willow.
Warwick Davis is Willow Ufgood
There’s no Willow without Warwick Davis, so of course the star of the 1988 film is back. The heroic aspiring sorcerer is now a legend after defeating the evil queen Bavmorda at the end of his adventures, but the big question is whether he can rise to the occasion again. For Kasdan it was all about creating new group dynamics that could expand on the magic that Davis and Val Kilmer shared in the first movie, and for the showrunner there was an obvious way of doing that. “I knew at the core of that thing he would be thrust into this mentor role and fraught with insecurities about it as he did it,” he says. “Then we wanted to surround him with people who could give you values that you got from the movie but present them in different ways.”
Joanne Whalley is Sorsha
The show’s other main returning character is Queen Sorsha. One of fantasy’s most trailblazing badass female characters, she’s now a mother and leader trying to keep her children and kingdom safe from the evil she once defeated. When we spoke to Ruby Cruz, she couldn’t keep her enthusiasm for the woman who laid the path for Kit under wraps. “Sorsha was such a character before her time, she’s such a strong character. And I think that’s also really fun, where the audience is gonna find Sorsha. Because there’s a lot of different ways that character could have gone and I think where we meet here is super interesting.” She was also eager to give credit to the woman who brought her to life. “Joanna is a real life warrior. She is so incredible.”
Ruby Cruz is Kit and Dempsey Bryk is Airk
The twins at the center of the adventure are Kit and Airk. It’s the latter’s abduction that sets Kit on her path to adventure and Willow. Before that, though, they were raised in the safety of the castle by their mother Sorsha and absent father Madmartigan. The royal twins gave the show a chance to reimagine those characters for a new era. Kasdan says: “With Ruby and Dempsey it was all about asking, ‘Should we continue the legacy of Madmartigan and Sorsha?’ But also asking, ‘What would it look like if it evolved?’ Just like the way that Mads was very much a creation of the late 80s, what would a 2022 version of a hip self-referential heroine and hero look like? A lot of these things were just intuitive moves much more than they were some calculated choices.”
Amar Chadha-Patel is Boorman
Another character who carries on Madmartigan’s legacy is the adventurer and criminal Boorman who gets enlisted in their party by Queen Sorsha. Kasdan explains that it was a chance to introduce a new iteration of the character “But rather than saying we’re going to do Mad Martigan again, we literally had him be sort of this the student of Mads. It’s true of all these movies now, the characters we get are sort of the offspring of the ‘80s and ‘90s characters, so we made it just very literal in the show. Boorman learned all of Mads’ tricks from him. Yet Amar brings something that’s so distinctly his own to it that’s very fun and fresh.”
Erin Kelleyman is Jade
Along for the ride is Kit’s best friend and trainer, Jade. A brave knight who will do anything for Kit, she’s played by the brilliant Erin Kelleyman. Although Kasdan was tight lipped on Jade’s role, he had plenty to say about the actor who brings her to life. “She’s a unique and singular person, yet she fits sort of effortlessly into the landscape of this thing. First of all, she can do the action in a way that’s really incredible. She’s great with a sword and she’s believably a warrior. That was one thing we all took from Solo is that she can wield this weapon. She also brings such a sense of humor and dryness mixed with a real aching heart that just felt totally new for Willow.”
Ellie Bamber is Dove
An unexpected addition to the journey is Dove. The quiet kitchen girl who is best known around the castle for her delicious baked goods joins the crew for a very special reason. It just so happens that Dove is Airk’s current beau. Despite the fact that the prince is quite the lothario, Dove is committed to him and believes that he feels the same way. And because she’s quite the hero herself, when he goes missing Dove decides that she has to help the man she loves. However, his sister might not be too happy about the new member of her questing party.
Tony Revolori is Graydon
The final member of the party is Graydon. The seemingly spoiled prince that Kit is betrothed to is far from your usual adventurer but gets roped into the quest due to circumstance. He’s a reluctant player but has a dark secret that will come to light as the series goes on. While Kit is far from excited about their marriage, Graydon has a far more serious approach to their duties, feeling that the pair should do what they must to defend the realm. But that could all change as they head out into the wider world in order to find Willow and save the Kingdom they love.
The first two episodes of Willow are available to stream on Disney+ now.