How Jonathan Kasdan's Approach For Willow Was Affected By Harry Potter

Ron Howard and George Lucas' 1988 adventure movie "Willow" has long-since garnered comparisons to "The Lord of the Rings," but the continuation series is set to take a page out of a different (spell)book. During a Q&A session following an advance screening of the new series attended by /Film, executive producer Jonathan Kasdan revealed the ways in which J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" books influenced the new series, which he confirms is set to follow an older Elora Danan, among other characters.

"The reason to do this show was always that there was a Harry Potter kind of story in this baby," Kasdan says. "It opens the same way as Harry Potter does with the baby in the basket being left on the doorstep of someone who doesn't particularly want it." Just as "Willow" kicks off with a near-biblical story about infant Elora being sent off to safety after a prophecy dictates she could one day stand against Queen Bavmorda, "Harry Potter" starts with young Harry, also the subject of a prophecy, being taken in by the Dursley family.

'It was always sort of baked into the DNA'

Kasdan says that he was drawn to "Harry Potter" during the height of the books' popularity, and that their structure and focus on interpersonal relationships have some impact on "Willow" itself. "I was in my 20s when the Harry Potter books happened and I got very involved in the artfulness with which [Rowling] matriculated those characters through the seven years of their lives and the relationships they had to each other," Kasdan says. He notes that he was especially drawn to the realism of 'The Order of the Phoenix,' when "Harry gets sort of mad and sullen and very high school."

As for "Willow," though, it doesn't sound like the series is about to dip into ultra-angsty teen territory right off the bat. Kasdan cites the first book when speaking about Elora's story, explaining that the reveal that she's one of the show's protagonists happens early on to help set up a Harry Potter-esque structure. "It just seemed like that was a natural place to go with this series," he says, "so it was always sort of baked into the DNA that we would reveal [Elora] right up front and that the season we were making would be about her, like Sorcerer's Stone, learning to do magic."

The power of love over evil

While Kasdan credits "Harry Potter" as a creative touchstone for "Willow," he also points out that the books themselves follow in the tradition of the original "Star Wars" trilogy. "The values that we hope the show is about and that are intrinsic in George's other movies too are all about family and love and the human connections we make being the things that overcome evil ultimately," Kasdan says, adding, "In that sense, I think J.K. Rowling owes a lot to George, because the final summation of 'Harry Potter' is that friendship is the greatest magic of all feels in sync with the 'Star Wars' message." He's not wrong!

The executive producer ultimately wants "Willow" to do what other great fantasy series that have come before it have done, by continuing "a real through-line of devotion being such a powerful force." Kasdan's vision for the "Willow" series sounds quite ambitious, especially if the "Sorcerer's Stone" comparison means we could be getting a lot more of Elora's story in the future. It's too early to tell if the Disney+ continuation of the series will be as resonant and lovable as its popular genre influences, but we'll find out when the series lands on the streamer on December 30, 2022.