Earlier this year, Val Kilmer was seen reprising his role as Tom "Iceman" Kazansky in Top Gun: Maverick alongside Tom Cruise. However, there was another iconic role that he was unable to come back to this year: Madmartigen from Willow. The new Disney+ series of the same name debuted this week and sees Ruby Cruz and Demspey Bryk playing Madmartigen's children, but Kilmer is not in the fantasy show. However, producer Jonathan Kasdan recently revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that Kilmer's role in the Top Gun sequel served as inspiration for Willow.
"Not only did it give us food for thought, but my executive producer, Tommy Harper, was the executive producer of Top Gun: Maverick, so he worked with Val then," Kasdan explained of the film. "I had already met Val when we were setting out to do this thing. We've been talking pretty consistently every day of our lives about how to bring Madmartigan back and how that character can continue to live within the Willow universe. And much of the first season asks the question of what happened to Madmartigan. And when there was a real shot at getting him out to Wales during our first season, we had a very specific moment when that question was going to be answered. But when it became clear that we weren't going to get him out there because of the restrictions that Covid was putting on all of us, we simply pushed the question a little further down the road and continued to build it out in ways that we thought were tantalizing and fun."
Kasdan continued, "Most specifically, we added this old member of his team that felt like he would fit into this sort of Madmartigan school of scoundrels, and the only person we wanted for the part was Christian Slater. And you can imagine my shock when Christian Slater was like, 'Absolutely. Sign me up, give me a sword and I'll kick some ass.' It was one of the most exciting moments ever. And then Christian reached out to Val, and they had some communication. So there was a real sense of family and community around it, and also with Joanne [Whalley]. Joanne and Val have two lovely children together. So this universe exists because of him and because he was that hero for our generation."
In addition to having characters that are related to Madmartigen, Willow also features Amar Chadha-Patel as Boorman, a character who has a similar energy to the lovable trickster and warrior played by Kilmer. During a recent interview with Digital Spy, Chadha-Patel talked about paying tribute to Kilmer in the show.
"I think Val Kilmer sort of helped redefine what the sort of roguish archetype in those types of films is. His performance is so unique and bonkers and tonally strange and off-kilter, but it works," Chadha-Patel explained. "And then there was obviously going to be an equivalent of that in this series that people would want and the fantasy demands. But I was never going to be able to do what he did, so I just tried to make that as much my own as possible."
He continued, "And Jon Kasdan, our creator, and Steven Wolfman, our first block director, we did a lot of work in our bootcamp of learning who these characters are. We just tried to create this sort of swagger, aloofness, like an almost drunken, carefreeness to this character that paid a bit of a tribute to Madmartigan but was still, in essence, myself." He added, "I would never try and recreate what he did. But there was a tall guy with a sword and there had to be another one," he added.
The first two episodes of Willow are now streaming on Disney+.