Val Kilmer
Val Kilmer is recovering from his battle with oral cancer. Pictured: Kilmer at the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles 23rd Annual Simply Shakespeare benefit in Santa Monica, California on Sept. 25, 2013. Reuters/Phil McCarten


  • "Willow" showrunner Jonathan Kasdan said Val Kilmer was eager to bring his character Madmartigan back on screen
  • The actor was forced to leave the Disney+ series due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Kilmer starred in the original 1988 film as a disgraced knight who helps sorcerer Willow Ufgood

Val Kilmer was set to appear in "Willow" Season 1 before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jonathan Kasdan, the showrunner of the new Disney+ series, made the revelation in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly.

Kasdan confirmed that Kilmer, 62, was supposed to reprise his role as Madmartigan in the "Willow" sequel series and was written into the script, but the actor, who was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015, was forced to leave his role as a precautionary measure amid the pandemic.

"As COVID overtook the world, it became insurmountable," the showrunner told the outlet.

Kilmer starred in the original 1988 film as disgraced knight Madmartigan, who helps sorcerer Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) save the life of Elora Danan. The character remains an important figure in Kasdan's Disney+ series and a key element in the plot.

"We really wanted Val to come be in the show," Kasdan explained. "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.'"

Kilmer continues to struggle with his health after surviving throat cancer, and although he reprised his role as Iceman in Tom Cruise's "Top Gun: Maverick," he only made a brief appearance and typed most of his dialogue.

Despite this, Kasdan said Kilmer was looking forward to appearing in the series, sharing that the actor embraced him, picked him up and told him, "I'm still super strong," during one visit.

"We started building out the first season with the intent of having him appear," Kasdan explained. "[It wasn't clear we couldn't get him] until pretty late in the process, frankly."

Kasdan's planning happened before the COVID-19 pandemic. They had to make changes in the production following the lockdown, and due to his condition, Kilmer didn't feel it was safe for him to come out for the series.

"We were prepping in the spring of the year that it was most happening. And Val reluctantly didn't feel he could come out," Kasdan recalled. "We had to figure out a way to preserve the story we wanted to tell with him about how his story was playing out."

Although Kilmer wasn't present in the first season, there may be a possibility that fans would see Madmartigan on the show in the future.

With COVID-19 protocols now more ironed out, Kasdan said he is eager for a second season and would love to get Kilmer on set.

"We wanted to leave open the door to any possibility in the future and also honor the spirit of him," Kasdan said. "We've tried to do that and work with him in a way so that he is felt and heard, if not seen."

"Willow" premiered on Disney+ Wednesday.

Val Kilmer
Val Kilmer recently revealed that he is doing much better after his two-year battle with throat cancer. Pictured: Kilmer poses for a photo with a Koala during a visit to WILD LIFE Sydney on Oct. 12, 2012 in Sydney, Australia. WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo via Getty Images