Major spoilers to follow for Willow’s Disney Plus series.
Willow actor Ellie Bamber has spoken of the “pressure” to be cast as a vitally important character with a big secret in the Disneyplus fantasy series.
Bamber – who begins the series as Dove the kitchen maid – is eventually unmasked by Willow (Warwick Davis) as the grown-up version of Elora Danan, the baby found on the riverbank in the original 1988 film that kicks off the quest for return. brings her to a Daikini family.
Speaking exclusively to TechRadar about whether she knew her character’s secret when she first auditioned for the role, Bamber says: “I had a hunch. There was quite a bit of secrecy around the first round of auditions, then I spoke to Jon [Jonathan Kasdan, who developed the story] and it became clearer. He said, ‘Something is happening and there is a revelation’. My agent had a weird suspicion that it might be to play the baby, but then I found out I was going to be playing the baby, so of course I was super excited about that prospect.
“It was very hard to keep it a secret from friends and family,” she adds. “I made a mistake a few times!”
In the film, the evil Queen Bavmorda says that the mark on Elora Danan’s arm proves that she will try to overthrow her and demands that she be killed. However, in the sequel series, we discover that after Willow gave the baby to Madmartigan (Val Kilmer, who unfortunately isn’t part of the new production) and Bavmorda’s warrior daughter Sorsha (Joanne Whalley), they hid her with a new family and gave her another identity to protect her from prying eyes.
Given that the movie is a cult classic with a legacy spanning more than three decades, Bamber — who recently starred in The Serpent and The Trial of Christine Keeler — says she felt the weight of anticipation weigh on her.
“There was a real pressure,” she admits. “I think it got scary just going on set and seeing the scale of it and the costumes and seeing everyone at the top of their game. I was like, ‘Wow, I’m one of the best creatives in the industry and I have to be on top of my game too. But I often turn fear into excitement because they are so closely related, so I tried to get really excited about it.”
The 10-episode TV show reunites adult Elora Danan with Willow, who must teach her her own wizarding powers as they embark on their own quest in an attempt to rescue the kidnapped Prince Arik (Dempsey Brik). And Bamber says some of her favorite scenes to film were with the new series’ eponymous star throughout the series. “The scenes where I learn magic with Warwick (Willow) were so much fun to film,” she adds. “We really need to improvise and build this bond.”
Watch for more Willow-based content our in-depth chat with the show’s cast to find out how “everything lined up” prior to production of the series, training for the action sequences, and more. Otherwise, take a look at the best Disney Plus shows and the best Disney Plus movies to stream right now.
Willow is now streaming on Disney Plus.