Photographer: Timothy Fernandez Hair: Ashlee Rose Makeup: Edwin “Loftjet” Sandoval Stylist: Chris Horan
The 1988 fantasy adventure film Willow is making its return by way of television. Out Nov. 30 on Disney Plus, Lucasfilm and Imagine Entertainment have created an all-new tale set years after the events of the original movie when aspiring sorcerer Willow (Warwick Davis) sets out on a journey to protect infant empress Elora Danan and vanquish the evil Queen Bavmorda from their world of Andowyne. The series picks up when the kingdom is threatened by evil forces yet again that kidnap Prince Airk (Dempsey Bryk), son of Queen Sorsha (a returning Joanne Whaley). To save Airk and the kingdom, Willow (Davis) and an unlikely fellowship of heroes set out on an odyssey of magic, danger and discovery.
Among the group is Airk’s sister, Kit. The spirited, willful princess reckons with committing to her royal duties and honoring her truth. Brought to life by Ruby Cruz (Castle Rock, Mare of Easttown), the Willow actor spoke with LA Confidential about sword fighting, her journey with Kit and her upcoming film, Bottoms.
What did you enjoy about playing Kit and why do you think audiences will connect with her?
Kit is really special and I'm very excited for people to meet her and get to know her. She's a complicated character, definitely. It was really awesome to play someone so outspoken and so unafraid of being blunt and being honest, and I think that was something she taught me a lot and how to be in that headspace. And just being a powerful, strong, young woman was always really fun, but I think people will connect to her, because she's so complicated. And she's messy and she makes mistakes, and she gets herself into stressful situations and she has to learn from them. And I think that that's something very human that I hope people can see themselves in. I know that I wish I had a Disney princess to look up to who was wrong a lot of the time because it's hard to admit that you're wrong.
Did you have to train for sword fighting prior to shooting?
I've never done sports my whole life. I've never been a person who works out actively, and I think that was honestly really hard. My body went through a little bit of a shock when I was working out every single day and training and I was really tired. I think honestly I learned the importance of sleep and resting and taking care of yourself because it was really hard physically. But it also was really rewarding. I think having the opportunity to train with some of the best out there— C.C. Smiff ran our stunt team and he's incredible. His whole stunt team is incredible and they taught us how to safely do insane, incredible things that I can't believe I'm capable of now. And that opportunity just to learn how to sword fight, learn how to use my body safely, learn how to horseback ride, that I'll always value.
I don't believe I would be able to actually hold my own in a [real] sword fight. You create a routine. And definitely on the day when everyone is doing like a huge group fight, which a lot of us were, and everyone's swinging their weapons or running and jumping and fighting, it becomes this mess that you do actually have— I mean, things happen on the day that you don't prepare for. And there's a camera also around you that you have to watch out for and you definitely do have to think on your feet a little bit. It's very satisfying to get a routine and then work really hard at it and then get it down. That was really cool.
In the official descriptions of Erin Kellyman’s character Jade, she’s described as Kit’s best friend. What is special about their relationship?
I'm really excited for people to get to know them and their relationship definitely means a lot to me and a lot to my character. I think it was really awesome opportunity to represent a realistic depiction of confusion and complication within friendships and within queerness and how maybe not wanting to accept some feelings or being confused by what you think is a very real, very human thing and me and Erin wanted to do that justice. Their relationship is complicated. They are best friends first. They've grown up together and rely on each other heavily for support and that can get complicated sometimes.
What do you hope audiences take away from Kit’s journey?
All of our characters have a whole world behind them and are going through such different things and their contemporary problems. And I know my character learns something new every episode. But I think for Kit’s overall arc, it's really about finding yourself and allowing that journey and that search to be messy and then learning to love that person and learning to accept that person. That's something that Kit and I were able to go on, that journey parallel together.
We’re going to see you in Emma Seligman and Rachel Sennott’s upcoming teen sex comedy, Bottoms. Can you give us any insight as to what audiences can look forward to from the movie?
Oh, goodness. Bottoms is something I am so unbelievably excited for. I was just in the ADR booth, and I finally got to see a little bit of it and I'm just excited. I don't know how much I can say because not much is out there. But I do know that it's gonna be a ridiculous time and I just want people to be able to laugh. Rachel and Emma are geniuses and I really look up to them and I really idolize them in their craft, and I think that I'm just honored to be a part of a little sliver of their genius.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Photography by: Timothy Fernandez