High adventure has returned with the series debut of Disney+’s Willow. As one of the latest entries into the 2022 TV schedule, this legacy-quel has kicked off its run of swords and sorcery in epic fashion. For the cast starring in executive producers Jon Kasdan and Michelle Rejwan’s grand vision, the finished product is a reward for all the hard work they did to bring the world of Willow Ufgood back to its fans.
As anyone would expect, those efforts were the result of some insane training that the cast underwent to get themselves into fighting shape. However, as I discovered during the press day for the Disney+ series, Willow’s continuation also opened the door for some wonderful touches that echoed the franchise’s past.
In particular, there was a moment where actor Dempsey Bryk found himself called upon to mimic a piece from the saga. He teased his favorite memory from the boot camp experience:
The “thing” Dempsey Bryk is talking about above could be Val Kilmer’s famous sword twirl from the original Willow movie, though we can’t say for certain as his respect to spoilers leaves the subject a bit open. It would make total sense though, as Airk and Kit are the twins born from Madmartigan and Sorsha’s romance at the end of the 1988 classic.
Taking after his old man, Airk has a way with both the ladies and the blade; this signature move could seal the deal on that front if that’s what Bryk was referring to. Meanwhile, Ruby Cruz’s experience during the boot camp required the mastery of an intense fight sequence that involved her character Kit, and loyal friend and love interest Jade.
Played by Erin Kellyman, who anyone with a Disney+ subscription last saw as lead Flag Smasher Karli Morgenthau in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Jade is looking to become a knight in the Shining Legion. One scene that really tested that aspect of both Kellyman’s character and Ruby Cruz’s Kit was a synchronized fight that the actor detailed to a certain extent in our interview.
However, as you’ll read below, Cruz has informed us that those results aren’t readily available for consumption:
Not all of the best boot camp moments were about heroism and intense action. Though when it comes to the story that Willow cast members Ellie Bamber and Tony Revolori both told me, there was still excitement involved when it came to the actors bonding through some light mischief.
While training for the big stunts that they were going to film, part of the process involved a pretty standard practice: blocking through the usage of cardboard boxes. Those boxes presented a temptation that led to some levity, as Bamber and Revolori would explain in their shared story:
Ellie Bamber: “My best memory during was, there were these cardboard boxes that kind of separated areas in this big warehouse that we were doing the camp in.”
Tony Revelori: “The stunt team concentrating in there. “
Bamber: “So they had the boxes up to, I suppose, separate from the PT area. And one day, I think it was you?”
Bamber: “Amar, Tony … and that Dempsey guy. We just decided, ‘Should we run through them, see what happens, and if we get in huge trouble about it?’ So we literally pelted ourselves out these cardboard boxes, and it was possibly…”
Revolori: “We all did it separately. We didn’t do it at the same time.”
Bamber: “…No, no. We all did it separately.”
Revolori: “And it was like, they were having a big conversation about fight scenes and fight choreography. “
Bamber: “Super serious. “
Revolori: “And Amar just dive rolls through the boxes. Dempsey just like, flat back, goes back. Ellie just walks through like it’s nothing, and says ‘Sorry. Where’s the bathroom?’ I don’t remember what I did, but I do remember what you all did. Oh! I think I might have put on the VR goggles and just walked through, and pretended to [fight]. Anyway, that was very fun.”
Bamber: “That was a great memory. I’d do that again.”
What we know about the Willow series is that it picks up some time after the events of the film. In this world of magical thinking and camaraderie, even in the face of great challenge, it doesn’t take long for danger to present itself, which leads our characters on a journey that will see them meeting Warwick Davis’ Willow Ufgood.
That sort of energy sounds like it carried on throughout the entire training experience, as well as into the actual filming itself. Rounding out the shared stories are Erin Kellyman and Amar Chadha-Patel, who plays Willow’s resident thief and comic relief Boorman.
Naturally, his character participating in this epic and dangerous quest in order to free himself from imprisonment gave the Wheel of Time star a chance to let loose and play around. At the same time, as he explains in tandem with Kellyman’s recollections, Patel got to feel pretty awesome in a spirited round of horseback riding:
Erin Kellyman: “I remember, on the very last day of boot camp, we went back to Tony (Revelori’s) and actually we played video games all day. I guess that’s how we celebrated. But it just felt so relaxing to just be like, ‘Ok, and we’re done.’ And Tony has these recliners that are just, they are so much more enjoyable when you know you’d have to wake up at 6 in the morning and work out.”
Amar Chadha-Patel: “Was that the night of red LEDs?”
Kellyman: “No, that was one of the first weekends.”
Chadha-Patel: “I actually learned to horse ride, that was such an achievement for me. There was one horse riding session towards the end of the boot camp where Ellie and I went on, and they were like, ‘Do you guys want to try ‘flag riding?’ And we’re like, ‘What’s that?’ And they just gave us massive flags, so we’d learn to like joust and ride around with these flags. It looked insane, and I was like, ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this. I grew up in East London.’ There were never horses there.”
The amazing experiences of preparing for this new series sound like they really set this band of actors up to face the evil that awaits in the next chapter. Should the executive producer’s hopes of making another Willow movie come to pass, that could mean that the next round of prep will be even more exciting, potentially full of bigger pranks and massage chairs for everyone.
Sword tricks, red LEDs, and all sorts of magic helped make Willow the streaming series event you can see before you today. As the first two parts of the eight-episode epic have debuted as part of Disney+’s December 2022 new releases, fans looking to get back into this world of wonder are just in time. You can catch the rest of this first season unfold on a weekly basis, with new episodes premiering on Disney+ each Wednesday.