It’s hard to believe that it’s been three decades since “Willow,” the iconic fantasy film directed by Ron Howard, first premiered.
The 1988 movie was based on a story by “Star Wars” creator George Lucas and starred Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Jean Marsh and Billy Barty. The movie follows Willow (Warwick Davis), a dwarf who must protect a special baby from an evil queen. The quirky film has come to be considered a cult classic in the fantasy genre.
Below are seven interesting facts about “Willow” you probably never knew.
1. It Was A Pioneer In Special Effects
The movie “Willow” features plenty of great visuals but one special effects sequence was a landmark.
When Willow turns an animal into other animals and, eventually, into a person, the visual effects team used a technique known as “morphing” to portray the transformation. At the time, this was a brand-new effect that had never been used in a live-action movie. “We shot five different pieces of film, of a goat, an ostrich, a tiger, a tortoise and a woman and had one actually change into the shape of the other one without having to cut away,” Dennis Muren, the visual effects supervisor on the film, explained in an interview with Britain’s The Telegraph.
2. John Cusack Could’ve Had Val Kilmer’s Part
Although the role of Madmartigan, the disgraced knight who eventually befriends and helps Willow, ultimately went to Val Kilmer, he was not the only star who was considered for the part. John Cusack, who went on to star in the romantic comedy classic “Say Anything” the following year, also auditioned for the role.
3. The Movie Spawned A Marriage
Speaking of Kilmer, he met his future wife, British actress Joanne Whalley, on the set of the film. Whalley played Sorsha, a warrior princess of the kingdom of Nockmaar. In the movie, their characters fall in love, and the film also spurred their real-life romance. The couple married in 1988 but divorced in 1996.
4. Warwick Davis Recently Cleared Up A Continuity Error
For years, diehard “Willow” fans were bothered by a continuity error in the movie. At the beginning, Willow is given three magic acorns. However, he’s only shown using two — but by the end he acts as if all three are gone, leaving careful viewers wondering whatever happened to the last acorn. In a 2013 interview with Gizmodo, Warwick Davis explained that the mix-up was due to a scene that was left on the cutting room floor.
“There’s a scene that has been cut out of the film where there’s a big storm when Willow is on his way back from the island of Fin Raziel,” Davis said. “Queen Bavmorda conjures up a tempest to try and kill Willow and Fin Raziel. A huge storm errupts, he’s tipped over the side of the boat and in doing that he actually drops his Acorn into the boat and turns the boat to stone. Which causes it to sink. So he’s lost his acorn.”
5. There May Be A Sequel
Director Ron Howard recently gave fans hope for a “Willow” sequel. In an interview promoting “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” Howard hinted that a second movie could become a reality. “I don’t want to give away too much, but there is a little talk of ‘Willow,'” he told Comic Book. “We wouldn’t call it ‘Willow 2,’ I think it would focus a lot on Elora Danan, although Willow would have to be significantly involved.”
6. The Massive Monster Was A Miniature Puppet
The main monster in the movie, the two-headed Eborsisk, was actually a small, stop-motion puppet created by Oscar-winning creature artist Phil Tippett. The puppets movements were made to look more realistic through the use of Industrial Lights & Magic’s go-motion technique.
7. The Climax Required A Lot Of Man (And Animal) Power
The climactic scene of the siege at Nockmaar Castle included more than 400 extras, 150 horses and 200 pigs, according to Lucasfilm. And the shooting location for that epic scene? The small village of Llanberis, Wales.
[h/t: Mental Floss]