A little more than a month after Disney+ confirmed that production on a Willow sequel series would begin in 2021 and that Warwick Davis will once again portray Willow Ufgood, Deadline Hollywood is reporting exclusively that three actors have been cast as the female leads. Ellie Bamber (Nocturnal Animals), Cailee Spaeny (The Craft: Legacy), and Erin Kellyman (Solo) are reportedly in negotiations to join the streaming series. Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians, In the Heights) has been tapped to direct the pilot and also executive produce, with pilot scribe Jonathan Kasdan (Solo) and Wendy Mericle (Arrow) serving as showrunners.
Reportedly focusing on the group's mission to save a prince, Willow features Bamber's Dove is an unassuming kitchen maid who proves that she is the "chosen one" as she embarks on the journey. Spaeny's Kit is the princess whose twin brother was abducted, destined to be a leader and ultimately the queen. Kellyman's Jade is a servant who is also Kit's best friend and moral compass- and on her way to becoming the best young warrior in the kingdom.
"Growing up in the'80s, 'Willow' has had a profound effect on me," said Chu in a released 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," explained original film director Ron Howard. "This isn't a nostalgic throw-back, it's a creative lean-forward and it's a blast to be a part of it all." Original film writer Bob Dolman serves as a consulting producer, with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and Michelle Rejwan executive producing. Howard's Imagine Television will produce, with Roopesh Parekh and Hannah Friedman serving as co-executive producers on behalf of the company; Julia Cooperman will produce.
While far from a box office failure, the Davis-Val Kilmer (Heat) starrer would earn only $110M on a $35M budget. At a time when budgets for films were nowhere close to where they are today, a $35M investment was expected to yield deeper profits than Willow earned. There's still no word on if the new series will utilize George Lucas and Uncanny X-Men writer Chris Claremont's trilogy of novels as source material for the pilot: 1995's Shadow Moon, 1996's Shadow Dawn, and 1999's Shadow Star.