Willow: Warwick Davis on returning to the iconic role George Lucas created for him when he was just 17

Willow: Warwick Davis on returning to the iconic role George Lucas created for him when he was just 17

When Warwick Davis made the film Willow in 1988, he was just 17 years old.

Conceived by George Lucas and directed by Ron Howard, the film was a box-office success, was nominated for an Oscar and is still having a tangible impact today – the director of last year’s The Green Knight credited Willow as one of the inspirations for the film.

Perhaps in an era of remakes, reboots and sequels it was inevitable that more of the fantasy tale about an aspiring wizard should come, and it’s now continuing thanks to a new TV series set years after the film.

Davis told Sky News the impact the character and the film had on his life was “huge.”

“Before Willow I was in Return Of The Jedi, well unseen – hidden behind the furry mask of Wicket the Ewok – so that was my experience on set and also in the movie Labyrinth so that was a real leap of faith for me,” he said.

“Well, George Lucas took that leap of faith by writing the story for me, and it was something he originally mentioned to my mother in 1984, he said, ‘I’ve got an idea for Warwick right now, he’s not old enough but when he’s a little bit older, we’re going to do that’ and it was Willow – he sort of sowed the seeds for it many years ago.”

“It was groundbreaking for me because I had to develop the acting outside of a costume where you could see my face, because in a furry suit, like I was as Wicket, you tend to exaggerate everything to get your feelings across .

“I’m playing with my face in this mask but nothing is showing — so when you take that away you have to take it all back down and make it really natural and real and just follow your instincts, which is what I did.”

And the film’s success meant that it wasn’t just Davis who was interested in continuing Willow’s story — he says fans have been asking for more for decades.

“When I did the movie Willow, I was only 17 and felt pretty new as an actor,” Davis explained.

“Even though Ron Howard was a brilliant director and really encouraged me and taught me a lot, I still felt afterwards that I could have done a better job — you know, maturity brings experience in life, and you can do that kind of thing.” perform.”

“But my eagerness to make a sequel was really fueled by the fans, everywhere I went they kind of said, ‘We want more Willow,’ and her voice was loud and ended up being heard by the right people, in this one Case in particular by John Kasdan, who wrote the series.

“It’s one of those movies that when people grew up watching it, they would pass it on to their kids and say, ‘You have to see this movie, I grew up watching it.'”

The cast of Lucasfilm’s Willow. Image: Lucasfilm

Much has changed in the film and television business since the 1980s, with advances in technology making it possible to bring anything to the big screen.

Davis said along those lines that the two productions felt very different on set.

“Technology has come in leaps and bounds and that’s really down to George Lucas, who pioneered digital technology and the work that he did, you know, in developing ILM [Industrial Light and Magic – Lucas’ visual effects company] and the strides they’ve made in that area,” Davis explained.

“Filming the series was very different from the movie… CGI is the way forward and back now, when we were shooting Willow CGI was used – it was the first-ever use of morphing in a film where computers were used to create the.” Sorceress to transform Fin Raziel from a goat back to a woman.

“It’s never been seen before, so it was groundbreaking at the time, but now you can pretty much do anything you can think of on the show — anything that John Kasdan, the writer, could think of that we could do.” who could bring viewers to the screen.”

Warwick Davis in Willow.  Image: Lucasfilm
Warwick Davis in Willow. Image: Lucasfilm

But while the technology has changed, the show’s aesthetics and indeed the tone of the story feel familiar, as Davis said there were certain elements that he felt needed to stay true to the original.

“My early discussions were very much about keeping the film’s DNA in the series – we’re doing something brand new, but we needed to keep that kind of ethos with Willow,” he explained.

“What made the film successful was the humor, the magic, the characters.

“And that was the ethos of George Lucas about the stuff he does – it’s all about the character, that’s what drives it, and the story – so a really good story and great characters to relate to. “

The actor, who has made multiple appearances in the Star Wars franchise as well as the Harry Potter films and many others, says he’s seen Willow’s influence throughout his career.

“And now people are hearing from the show that they’re so excited.

“Grown men run up to me at gas stations and say, ‘Hey, there’s a show I’m so excited to see,’ which is wonderful.

“We put so much effort into filming these things. So if people appreciate it and are happy for it, it’s worth it.”

Willow is now streaming on Disney+.

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