Why Did Val Kilmer Leave the New Willow? Will He Return?

Over the course of his career, Val Kilmer has delivered a number of memorable performances. If we are to make a list of them, it’s probably safe to assume that his outing as the roguish mercenary Madmartigan in ‘Willow’ will be there. Directed by Ron Howard (‘Splash’), the 1988 film tells the story of Willow (Warwick Davis), a Nelwyn (dwarf) sorcerer whose family discovers Elora Danan, the child with the mark of the prophecy, drifting on the river on a raft made of grass. Willow subsequently embarks on an adventure to protect the infant girl and encounters Madmartigan, who helps Willow keep Elora safe from the forces of the villainous queen Bavmorda of Nockmaar.

Despite surviving by the end of the film, Madmartigan is noticeably absent in the Disney+ namesake sequel series of ‘Willow.’ Here is everything you need to know about it. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Why is Val Kilmer Absent from the New Willow?

Kilmer was very much part of the initial plans for the first season of the series creator Jonathan Kasdan (‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’). “We really wanted Val to come be in the show,” Kasdan revealed to EW in an interview. “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.’”

However, that didn’t end up happening. In 2017, it was reported that Kilmer had struggled with throat cancer for two years. In 2020, the actor announced that he had been cancer-free for four years. In the interview mentioned above, Kasdan recalled visiting Kilmer. “He embraced me when I left,” Kasdan remembers. “He picked me up, and he said, ‘See? I’m still super strong.’ And I was like, ‘Great,’” the series creator revealed.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, and Kilmer was forced to drop out of the project. “As COVID overtook the world, it became insurmountable,” the ‘Roadies’ director stated. “We were prepping in the spring of the year that it was most happening. And Val reluctantly didn’t feel he could come out. We had to figure out a way to preserve the story we wanted to tell with him about how his story was playing out.”

Will Val Kilmer Return to the New Willow?

Although Kilmer’s character is physically absent from the first season of the Disney+ series, he is an integral part of the show, especially through two of the main characters of the series, Kit (Ruby Cruz) and Airk (Dempsey Bryk), who are his children with Sorsha (Joanne Whalley.

In-universe, Sorsha sent Madmartigan to find Kymerian Cuirass, a weapon to fight the great darkness, and he has been missing since. Kasdan has kept this window open in the narrative for Kilmer’s potential return in the future.

“… Because Val himself wasn’t able to come out to Wales and work with us, we added this texture of a friend of Madmartigan’s [referring to Amar Chadha-Patel’s character, Boorman], who could give us some clues about his whereabouts and deepened the mystery around what happened to him, in a way that only actually extended the story we were already telling,” Kasdan told Collider. “It was very satisfying, and it provided an opportunity for us to add a whole new element that we didn’t expect to the show. Madmartigan is still out there. I’ve had many conversations with everyone involved, and our feeling is that he’s out there to be found, should the day arrive. Warwick and I would both love to see him pick up that sword again.

Read More: Is Warwick Davis in the New Willow?