'Willow' cast and creators on diversity and Val Kilmer's presence

The cast and creators of Willow talk to Yahoo Entertainment from D23 about the show's new inclusive cast and Val Kilmer's presence in the series. Also, Warwick Davis and his real life daughter discuss working alongside each other on screen.

Video transcript

- How will you defeat us?

[EPIC MUSIC]

- Same as last time with my friends.

KEVIN POLOWY: How meaningful is this for you guys to get to work together on screen, and also bringing back this treasured franchise at the same time?

WARWICK DAVIS: It was lovely to work together. Wasn't it, Anna?

ANNABELLE DAVIS: Yeah, it was really fun. Dad had a lot of fun on set, and I learned a lot from him. And the whole time, obviously I'm playing Willow's daughter, and he's dad in real life, so it felt very natural. Each day on set was just another day with Dad, as if we were at home.

I think it made me appreciate Dad as an actor more because I'd only ever really seen his work onscreen. But the minute you're on set, you realize how hard it is, how long the days are. And it was really sort of a credit to everything he's done. So you're pretty cool, Dad.

WARWICK DAVIS: And it's-- thank you, Annabelle.

KEVIN POLOWY: So let's talk about this cast. You just look on paper, one thing that kind of pops off versus the '80s original is this is a cast more appropriate for the times. It's more inclusive, it's more diverse. How important is that to you guys?

TONY REVOLORI: To be honest, I think it's in the DNA of the original. You have a strong female character who probably was one of the very few back in the '80s, and you have a community with Warwick Davis and all of them being shown as leading characters, which is incredible. So now, it just felt like the right thing to do to include more people of color and more people of different backgrounds into the series. And I think this is just part of the journey on the right step in Hollywood.

JOANNE WHALLEY: It doesn't feel like any kind of box to key forced. It's a very-- it feels very natural and very right.

JONATHAN KASDAN: The precedent is really who is the best person for this part. And all of our casting was intended to be just like who fit into this part best. So 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's so many great actors who haven't had the opportunities that are now coming along. So you get to have a rich palette and a rich world to work with all these different talents.

KEVIN POLOWY: And finally, last time we talked to the "Willow" cast, I think there was some confusion over if Val was going to be in this. Can you say anything about how his absence will be felt or explained?

JOANNE WHALLEY: Well, his spirit is very definitely in it, for sure, because you would have no "Willow," the new adventure without referencing and feeling the presence of Madmartigan.

JONATHAN KASDAN: It's a hard thing to articulate too. Because while he's not on screen, he does have a presence in our show and a meaningful one. And we've been involved with him throughout the production. So hopefully, the vagueness of that isn't too frustrating for people. I saw the deep appetite.

People want to see Madmartigan again. And I hope that they'll be satisfied with the ways we have made him a part of this story. And I think they will.

KEVIN POLOWY: Christian Slater joined the cast. We found out. Are you guys Christian Slater fans? Have you seen the classics? Have you caught up with his '80s work?

TONY REVOLORI: Who's that?

CHRISTIAN SLATER: I'm really excited about the show. I think the cast that they assembled is great. I was there for a bit, and I missed some of the cold weather. That was rough for a lot of them. But I tried to warm it up as much as I could while I was there.

ERIN KELLYMAN: Christian is who?

TONY REVOLORI: Who's Christian--

KEVIN POLOWY: Christian Slater.

RUBY CRUZ: Oh, Chris.

ERIN KELLYMAN: Chris. Oh, Chris.

TONY REVOLORI: Oh, oh, Chris. Chris.

ERIN KELLYMAN: Yeah, he was all right.

TONY REVOLORI: He-- he was an actor before this?

KEVIN POLOWY: He was. Yeah.

ERIN KELLYMAN: Christian Slater.

KEVIN POLOWY: "Pump Up the Volume."

TONY REVOLORI: Fun to have him on set.

ERIN KELLYMAN: He brought so many good vibes, such good energy, and it was just really fun to be able to watch him work.

CHRISTIAN SLATER: Yeah, look, there's a lot of sword fighting, and swinging from things, and action, and everything I think you would want in a "Willow" series.

WARWICK DAVIS: And it's kind of tough going back into something like this. Because the movie is so loved all over the world. We felt the weight of responsibility to do a really great job with the series. Because one wrong move, and you could ruin it for everyone, ruined all those treasured memories they had, growing up watching the film. So really, you have to think of those people as you're making it and make the series that they will want to see.

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