Val Kilmer’s absence from Willow’s eight-episode first season left a gaping hole in the recently-concluded Disney+ series. Unfortunately, the actor’s ongoing health issues made it impossible for him to reprise his role as Madmartigan from the original 1988 film, forcing the producers to come up with different ways to have his character play a role in the larger storyline. They mainly did this by introducing his children, Kit (Ruby Cruz) and Airk (Dempsey Bryk) as two of the franchise’s newest heroes. But they also reached out to one of Kilmer’s oldest friends to channel Madmartigan’s spirit in one of the series’ most memorable episodes.
While speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Christian Slater discussed his guest-starring role as Allagash, one of Madmartigan’s friends, in Willow episode 3. The episode revealed that sometime between the film and the TV series, their characters embarked on a quest to find the Kymerian cuirass. Unfortunately, the trip didn’t go as planned, with Madmartigan disappearing beneath the mines of Skellin and Allagash spending the next 10 years in a crows cage. Slater previously acted opposite Kilmer in 1993’s True Romance, so they go back almost three decades. That’s why it was vital to let Kilmer’s influence serve as his guiding light during filming.
“[Val’s] obviously in a very difficult situation, but I just expressed my love,” said Slater. “And I certainly let him know that the spirit of Madmartigan was going to be running all the way through these eight episodes. It was just amazing to be on set and get the vibe and the sense of how appreciated and loved he is as an actor. So he was such a part of this, even though he wasn’t physically able to be there.”
Slater also detailed his experience working with showrunner Jonathan Kasdan, revealing just how loose the on-set atmosphere was. “He was also so open to ideas,” continued Slater. “There was a lot of freedom, and that’s what the movie felt like, too. It felt like things were made up on the spot. Everybody seemed to be having a good time while being creative. So that was the kind of energy that Jon wanted to bring to the series, which is unusual with so many people making decisions. So I was given some leeway with the character of Allagash.”
All eight episodes of Willow are currently streaming on Disney+.
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