Warwick Davis and Ron Howard returning for Willow Disney+ series, Jon M. Chu directing pilot
On Tuesday, the streaming service confirmed that the series is a go and announced that Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians, In the Heights) will direct the pilot. Chu will also serve as executive producer alongside showrunners Jonathan Kasdan (who wrote the pilot) and Wendy Mericle (Arrow); Ron Howard, who directed the original film; and Bob Dolman, who wrote the original film. And the original movie's star, Warwick Davis, will reprise his role as the titular Willow Ufgood, the Nelwyn dwarf sorcerer tasked with protecting a baby prophesied to bring down an evil queen.
"So many fans have asked me over the years if Willow will make a return, and now I'm thrilled to tell them that he will indeed," Davis said in a statement. "Many have told me they grew up with Willow and that the film has influenced how they view heroism in our own world. If Willow Ufgood can represent the heroic potential in all of us, then he is a character I am extremely honored to reprise."
The series will take place "years after the events of the original Willow film," which came out in 1988, and "introduce all-new characters to the enchanted realm of fairy queens and two-headed Eborsisk monsters," according to the announcement. It is slated to begin production next year in Wales, where much of the original film was shot.
"Growing up in the '80s, Willow has had a profound effect on me," Chu said in a statement. "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. Jon Kasdan and Wendy Mericle have added such groundbreaking new characters and delightful surprises to this timeless story that I can't wait for the world to come along on this epic journey with us."
"It's creatively exciting to not only revisit the world and characters first conceived by George Lucas, Bob Dolman, and myself but to see it take flight in such fresh, fun and cinematic ways through the imagination of Jon Kasdan and Team Willow," Howard added. "This isn't a nostalgic throwback, it's a creative lean-forward and it's a blast to be a part of it all."
The Willow sequel series is Lucasfilm's first non-Star Wars project since 2015, and president Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement, "Jon Chu's vision, coupled with the writing of Jon Kasdan and Wendy Mericle, is going to take Willow into new and exciting directions for the series. Reuniting Ron Howard and Warwick Davis in the world of Willow is something that they've both wanted to do for some time, and I couldn't be more proud of the incredible team we've put together to bring this series to Disney+."