In recent weeks we’ve seen two high profile shows, House of the Dragon and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, face backlash from fans upset that fantasylands inhabited by dragons and elves also have people of color in them. The upcoming Disney+ series Willow, a continuation of the beloved 1988 film, will also feature a more inclusive cast than its predecessor. Its ensemble includes Ruby Cruz (who stars as the daughter of Joanne Whaley’s Sorsa), Erin Kellyman (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier), Tony Revolori and Amar Chadha-Patel.
“The precedent is really ‘Who is the best person for this part?’ And all of our casting was intended to be ‘Who fit into this part best?’” series creator Jonathan Kasdan tells us at Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, Calif. (watch above).
“My intention and my hope is that when you do that, you find a really diverse and well-rounded group of people. Because there are so many great actors in the world. And there are so many great actors that have not had the opportunities that are coming along. So you get to have a rich palette and a rich world to work with all these different talents.”
Legacy star Warwick Davis also returns as the eponymous sorcerer (his real-life daughter Annabelle Davis costars as well as Whaley).
Though comments Kasdan made to Yahoo at May’s Star Wars Celebration caused some confusion in regards to whether or not Val Kilmer would reprise his iconic role of Madmartigan in the series, the filmmaker set the record straight with us at D23, mostly.
“It’s a hard thing to articulate because while he’s not onscreen, he does have a presence in our show, and a meaningful one,” Kasdan says of Kilmer, who lost his voice in recent years due to a battle with throat cancer, but appeared briefly this summer in the box office mega-hit Top Gun: Maverick.
“We’ve been involved with him through the production. Hopefully the vagueness of that isn’t too frustrating for people.”
So no Kilmer onscreen, but as announced at D23 this weekend, a different bold-faced named who hit it big in the ’80s will be joining the world of Willow: Christian Slater, who plays a friend of Madmartigan.
Willow premieres Nov. 30 on Disney+.
—Video produced by Jen Kucsak and edited by Jason Fitzpatrick
Watch the trailer: