Val Kilmer’s character Madmartigan was one of the most iconic parts of 1988’s classic Willow. Unfortunately, he won’t be appearing in the first season of the new Willow TV series. It’s not for lack of trying on the studio’s end; Val Kilmer has had some major health challenges in recent years. He has been battling throat cancer since 2015.
Despite reprising hs role in Top Gun: Maverick, it doesn’t seem that he’s really in a state to be making many onscreen appearances. (Maverick had to modify Kilmer’s speaking voice for clarity.) Since he was immunocompromised during the pandemic, he also couldn’t be booked for anything made during that period.
Entertainment Weekly recently spoke with Jonathan Kasdan, the new series’ showrunner. Kasdan was eager to talk about how they’ve managed to work around Kilmer’s absence.
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.’
Kasdan also noted that they “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.” After Covid, Kilmer supposedly decided he could not come out, which meant Kasdan “had to figure out a way to preserve the story we wanted to tell with him about how his story was playing out” while also leaving “open the door to any possibility in the future and also honor the spirit of him.”
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