Disney Plus has green-lit a streaming series that continues the events of the 1988 fantasy film Willow, as reported by Variety. The film’s original star Warwick Davis (Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Life’s Too Short) will return to reprise his role as the titular character and director Ron Howard (Cinderella Man, Hillbilly Elegy) will serve as executive producer under his Imagine Television banner, Variety reports. Howard floated the possibility of continuing the story of Willow with Davis in a 2016 Reddit AMA. “Warwick Davis is such a cool guy, and he’s continued to evolve as a talent… And a grown-up Willow could be kind of cool,” he wrote. Howard will cede directorial duties to Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians, Step Up 3D) for the pilot, as confirmed by Howard himself on Twitter. Chu will also work as an executive producer, Variety reports.
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) October 20, 2020
The idea of adapting Willow for the small screen is by no means a new idea. A trove of concept art unearthed in 2012 revealed that there were aborted plans for an animated series in the years immediately following the film’s release, as reported by Gizmodo. The showrunners for the upcoming Willow sequel series are Jonathan Kasdan (Solo: A Star Wars Story, The First Time) and Wendy Mericle (Desperate Housewives, Arrow). Mericle posted on Twitter that she and Kasdan have spent the entire summer writing. According to Variety, Chu stated that the duo’s contributions have expanded the world of Willow: “Jon Kasdan and Wendy Mericle have added such groundbreaking new characters and delightful surprises to this timeless story.”
Willow’s original screenwriter Bob Dolman (Far and Away, How to Eat Fried Worms) will reportedly occupy a consulting producer role, Variety reports. In an interview with the State of the Empire podcast, Dolman revealed that Willow was something of a passion project for George Lucas because his original idea for Star Wars would have allegedly had the role of Luke Skywalker performed by a dwarf. Dolman told State of the Empire that producers had rejected Lucas’s original idea, but once Return of the Jedi brought Warwick Davis to Lucas’s attention, he felt confident enough to realize his vision of a classical adventure story with a heroic dwarf. The complete interview can be heard below.
The Disney Plus Willow sequel series represents Lucasfilm’s first production unrelated to the Star Wars franchise in five years, according to Variety. Production is scheduled to begin in 2021, Variety reports.