Willow showrunner explains why Val Kilmer won’t appear

Val Kilmer in WillowLucasfilm

The showrunner on Willow has explained why Val Kilmer won’t appear in the new Disney+ series.

The new series takes place 20 years after the defeat of Bavmorda, with Warwick Davis’ Willow Ufgood summoned to lead “an unlikely group of heroes and set off on a dangerous quest to places far beyond their home, where they must face their inner demons and come together to save their world.

Kilmer played Madmartigan in the original 1988 movie, teaming up with Willow on his adventure to save the baby Elora Danan alongside Sorsha (Joanne Whalley).

However, while it was originally hoped he’d reprise his role, he won’t appear in the upcoming show.

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Willow showrunner explains Val Kilmer’s absence

In 2017, Kilmer publicly revealed his throat cancer diagnosis. While he’s undergone years of chemotherapy treatments, radiation and a tracheotomy – to the point he’s now cancer-free – Kilmer lost his voice in the process. “Speaking, once my joy and lifeblood, has become an hourly struggle,” he wrote in his memoir.

He memorably reprised his role of Iceman for one of the best scenes in Top Gun: Maverick with the assistance of A.I.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner Jonathan Kasdan spoke about the initial plans to bring back Kilmer, and why it wasn’t possible for the star.

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“We really wanted Val to come be in the show. And Val really wanted to come out and be in the show,” he said.

“I remember going to see Val right after this thing started to get some momentum, and I said, ‘Listen, we’re doing this. And the whole world wants Madmartigan back.’ And he was like, ‘Not as much as I do.’

“We started building out the first season with the intent of having him appear. [It wasn’t clear we couldn’t get him] until pretty late in the process, frankly.”

Global restrictions eventually became “insurmountable” for Kilmer. “We were prepping in the spring of the year that it was most happening. And Val reluctantly didn’t feel he could come out. We had to figure out a way to preserve the story we wanted to tell with him about how his story was playing out,” Kasdan said.

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“We wanted to leave open the door to any possibility in the future and also honor the spirit of him. We’ve tried to do that and work with him in a way so that he is felt and heard, if not seen.”

Willow is available to stream on Disney+ tomorrow, November 30. You can sign up here.

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