Why Val Kilmer Was Forced to Pull Out of Disney+’s Willow Series

Val Kilmer, who played the role of Madmartigan in the 1988 film Willow, came close to appearing in the new Disney+ series based on the film. Find out what happened.

By Daniel Trainor Nov 30, 2022 3:41 AMTags
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Madmartigan's return was closer than we thought. 

The new Disney+ series Willow, premiering Nov. 30 on the streamer, is based on the 1988 fantasy adventure movie of the same name. In the film, Val Kilmer played the role of hunky swordsman Madmartigan who helped the titular Willow (Warwick Davis) on his epic journey.

According to Willow showrunner Jake Kasdan, things nearly came together for Kilmer to reprise his role in the series.

"We really wanted Val to come be in the show," Kasdan told Entertainment Weekly Nov. 29. "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.'"

Kilmer, who was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015, has continued to work throughout his health struggle, including an emotional reprisal of his role of Iceman in 2022's Top Gun: Maverick.

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So, what happened?

"As COVID overtook the world, it became insurmountable," Kasdan explained. "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."

However, Kilmer, 62, could still appear should Willow be granted a second season.

Rob Kim/Getty Images

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

The first season of Willow, which does feature Davis reprising his role, premieres Nov. 30 on Disney+.

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