Willow just premiered on Disney+, but without a crucial cast member from the 1988 film. Val Kilmer, who starred as the skilled mercenary Madmartigan, will not appear in the television series. Although Kilmer wanted to return, showrunner Jon Kasdan shared (via EW) why the Top Gun actor could not reprise his role at this time.
“We really wanted Val to come be in the show. And Val really wanted to come out and be in the show. 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,'” said Kasdan. “As COVID overtook the world, it became insurmountable. We were prepping in the spring of the year that it was most happening. And Val reluctantly didn’t feel he could come out.”
Kilmer has been dealing with the effects of throat cancer for almost eight years, which increase vulnerability to COVID. Though cancer-free, Kilmer struggles to speak due to multiple surgeries on his trachea. Kilmer notably appeared in Top Gun: Maverick but needed his voice digitally altered. Despite Madmartigan’s absence, Kasdan hopes to bring back Kilmer if Willow receives a second season. Kasdan made sure to “leave the door open” for a reunion with Kilmer.
We had to figure out a way to preserve the story we wanted to tell with him about how his story was playing out,” said Kasdan. “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 premieres November 30 on Disney+.
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