Disney is revisiting the world of Willow, the 1988 film conceived by George Lucas and directed by Ron Howard, for a new series for Disney Plus. Warwick Davis will reprise his role as Willow Ufgood, the film’s eponymous heroic adventurer, while Howard will return to executive produce.
John M. Chu, the director of Crazy Rich Asians and next year’s adaptation of In the Heights, will direct the pilot episode and serve as executive producer. Jonathan Kasdan, who wrote Solo: A Star Wars Story, will serve as showrunner alongside Wendy Mericle, a longtime producer on The CW’s Arrow. Bob Dolman, who wrote the original screenplay for Willow, serves as a consulting producer.
The new Willow series is a rare non-Star Wars venture for Lucasfilm. The show will take place an unspecified number of years after the original film, and will introduce “all-new characters to the enchanted realm of fairy queens and two-headed Eborsisk monsters...”
In a news release from Disney, Howard said the forthcoming Willow series “isn’t a nostalgic throw-back, it’s a creative lean-forward and it’s a blast to be a part of it all.”
“Growing up in the ’80s, Willow has had a profound effect on me,” Chu said in a statement — noting on Twitter that he named his real-life daughter Willow as a nod to the film. “The story of the bravest heroes in the least likely places allowed me, an Asian-American kid growing up in a Chinese restaurant looking to go to Hollywood, to believe in the power of our own will, determination and of course, inner magic. So the fact that I get to work with my heroes from Kathleen Kennedy to Ron Howard is bigger than a dream come-true. It’s a bucket-list moment for me.”
Willow hit movie theaters in 1988, but Lucas conceived of his fantasy adventure in the early ’70s, and chose Davis — who appeared in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi as an Ewok — to be his leading man. The fantasy film tells the story of Willow Ufgood, who must protect an infant, Elora Danan, from an evil queen. Willow is aided on his journey by the swordsman Madmartigan, who was played by Val Kilmer.
Capcom created video game adaptations of Willow for the arcade and Nintendo Entertainment System in 1989.