2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story didn’t truly land with audiences or critics. More than that, it seems to have inspired Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy’s decision not to recast iconic roles. Having done so unsuccessfully with one of Harrison Ford’s most iconic roles, Kennedy refuses to do it again even as Ford’s last adventure as Indiana Jones prepares to hit theaters, choosing to create an Indy-adjacent streaming series for Disney Plus rather than misfire on another recast. However, not all the takeaways from Solo were negative; in fact, it turns out that some behind-the-scenes conversations during its production were the genesis of the Disney Plus streaming series Willow.
During the global press conference for the upcoming series, star Warwick Davis, who first starred as Willow Ufgood when he was 17 years old, shared his belief that despite many attempts to get a follow-up to the 1988 movie off the ground, it would never happen. “For years it’s been talked about, not by anyone official but by the fans“, said Davis. “They’ve constantly pestered me“, he continued, “saying ‘when are we going to see a sequel to that movie?’ And it’s a question that I could never answer.”
A question, Davis says, he wasn’t able to answer until fate intervened. A Willow sequel seemed impossible for the star “Until I met Jon Kasdan“, said Davis of the writer and executive producer of the Willow streaming series. It turns out Kasdan, the son of frequent Lucasfilm collaborator Lawrence Kasdan who also worked on the script for Solo. As it turned out, Kasdan the younger was a fan of the Willow film as a kid and, according to Davis, joined him in feeling the time was right for a sequel series.
We decided that there should indeed be more ‘Willow,’ and so that was the catalyst for this project to happen, really, and it happened very quickly in Hollywood terms. You know, it wasn’t years and years of development, before I knew it I was sat on set, in Wales for the very first day of filming. Once again looking just like ‘Willow, but a slightly older, more mature, better-looking version. Sexier.Warwick Davis
Of course, it didn’t hurt the chances of a follow-up happening that the conversations about it happened on the set of Solo, where Ron Howard, who directed Willow, was helming the Star Wars origin story. According to Kasdan, the three of them formed a triumvirate that believed there was more story to tell.
There was the impulse certainly between Ron and Warwick and myself to continue this story, and return to this world. And I came at it as a fan, and they came at it both as the creators, and they found a champion in me, and I kept fighting and sort of hoping that we’d get a chance to go back here, and my ace was always that Warwick would be back and that he would look so attractive and America would – and the world – would really fall on their knees. I think everyone got that, and everyone appreciated that, that there was something really special in the opportunity to bring this character back to the screen.Jon Kasdan
Fans of the original film will have a chance to decide for themselves how necessary the sequel series is when Willow streams on Disney Plus beginning November 30th.