Crazy Rich Nelwynians! In news I never would have even imagined I would be writing about, Lucasfilm announced today that Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu will be executive P=producing and directing the pilot for a new Willow series set to premiere on Disney+. The series will also include the return of Warwick Davis, who starred in the original film as Willow Ufgood, and Ron Howard, who directed the film.
A rebooted WIllow series or film has long been talked about amongst fans, but it was hard to know if there was any substance to that discourse. The fact that the cult favorite film is not only getting refreshed for Disney+, but that Jon M. Chu is involved, is a hugely pleasant surprise that I don’t think anyone saw coming. In the day and age of internet leaks, it’s truly commendable that Lucasfilm and Chu were able to keep this super secret until today.
In the release, Chu spoke about how Willow’s underdog story resonated with Chu as a child:
“Growing up in the’80s, Willow has had a profound effect on me,” says Chu. “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.”Jon M. Chu on Willow
Willow premiered in 1988, when Chu, who is 40 (and celebrating a birthday soon!) was a young boy. Like Chu, I’m also a child of the 80’s, and completely understand his perspective. Everyone loves an underdog story, but they particularly resonate with children of immigrants. Further, given all that we’ve been going through over the last few years, this is a great time for Willow to be renewed for the current generation.
Jonathan Kasdan (Solo) and Wendy Mericle (Arrow) will serve as the series showrunners, with Kasdan having written the pilot as well.
Disney+ is the perfect place for a Willow series, and serves as yet another reason why the streaming service is quickly becoming a must-have for all families. Check out additional details below!
JON M. CHU TO DIRECT LUCASFILM’S WILLOW SERIES FOR DISNEY+
STAR WARWICK DAVIS AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER RON HOWARD ALSO RETURNING
The magical world of George Lucas’ Willow, the epic fantasy adventure set in an age of swords, sorcery, myths and monsters, will be returning in a Disney+ series slated to begin production next year.
Jon M. Chu (In The Heights, Crazy Rich Asians) is set to direct the pilot, and will serve as executive producer along with showrunners Jonathan Kasdan (Solo) and Wendy Mericle (Arrow). Jonathan Kasdan wrote the pilot.
“Growing up in the’80s, Willow has had a profound effect on me,” says Chu. “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.”
Chu directed the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical In the Heights, which will be released in June 2021. He will also direct and serve as executive producer for the pilot of ABC’s Medical Drama Triage.
Ron Howard, director of the original Willow film, returns as executive producer on the series with Bob Dolman, writer of the original film, serving as consulting producer.
“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,” says 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.”
The series, which is Lucasfilm’s first venture into non-Star Wars storytelling since 2015, takes place years after the events of the original Willow film. It introduces all-new characters to the enchanted realm of fairy queens and two-headed Eborsisk monsters, and welcomes back its namesake hero, Willow Ufgood, performed once again by the unmatchable Warwick Davis.
“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,” says Davis. “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.”
“This is an exciting new era for storytelling at Lucasfilm,” says Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. “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+.”
Kathleen Kennedy, Michelle Rejwan, Jon M. Chu, Jonathan Kasdan, Wendy Mericle, Ron Howard and Imagine Television will serve as executive producers, with Roopesh Parekh and Hannah Friedman as co-executive producers. Additionally, Bob Dolman will serve as consulting producer with Julia Cooperman as producer.
The production plans to return to the dramatic and enchanted landscapes of Wales, where much of the original film was shot.
Ron is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of POC Culture. He is a big believer in the power and impact of pop culture and the importance of representation in media.