All eight episodes of Willow are now streaming on Disney+, and the all-new sequel series, based on George Lucas' 1988 fantasy-adventure movie of the same name, has been a hit with fans.
The show premiered last November, and features the return of the iconic Nelwyn sorcerer played by Warwick Davis, years after he rescued the infant empress Elora Danan. Leading a group of misfit heroes on a harrowing rescue mission through a world beyond imagination, what follows is an action-packed fantastical adventure.
In the sixth episode, Christian Slater made his long-awaited cameo as Allagash, a character we soon learn was once one of Madmartigan's closest allies. The legendary actor's role was kept a secret prior to Willow's debut, and it's fair to say the Mr. Robot alum comes in and absolutely steals the show as this loveable rogue.
Last week, we got to sit down with the Willow star to discuss his memorable appearance, learning how he came to be involved with the project, the fun he had on set, and the lengths Disney went to in order to keep his character under wraps. Slater also shares some of his favourite memories from working on the series and teases Allagash's future.
Remember, we never saw him die, and the actor seems confident this won't be the only time he plays this guy! You can read our full conversation below, but be warned that there are spoilers for this episode.
I feel like Allagash is the ultimate guest starring role in the sense you come in, kick some butt, reel off some one-liners, and go out on a high - was that a big part of the appeal?
Yeah! When I heard about the show, I thought, ‘Ah, what a nice thing.’ I love the movie; there’s so much charm in it and so many great characters. Val was great and Warwick is amazing; it’s just got such a nice heart to it. Jon Kasdan told me about this character and we talked a lot about it. It was nice because he told me so far in advance, we were able to work on it together a lot which, obviously, as an actor, made me feel very happy. We came up with a lot of stuff prior to, and then things happened organically as we were making it. I got a real kick out of it and it worked out. It was a fun episode!
Allagash is a new character in Willow who we quickly learn has a history with Madmartigan; did Jon Kasdan take you through that mythology so you could get a better understanding of who this guy ius when we find him in that cage?
I got a good sense, certainly, from the dialogue and backstory that Jon had created. I liked the homage to Madmartigan. It seems like these crow cage-things are a throughline through the Willow history and lore. That’s where Madmartigan was when Willow met him the first time and that’s where I am when Willow meets me. I just enjoyed it. I’d heard about this concept Jon had about this sequel that was never made. Clearly, he’d put a lot of thought into the fact I’d have been in that sequel and Madmartigan and I would have gone on these adventures and had some wild times together [Laughs]. It seems like Jon had really, really thought it through and he did have a very nice backstory for this guy. I enjoyed the direction it went.
You and Amar Chadha-Patel get that great fight scene where you’re rolling around on the floor, pulling each other's hair, and squabbling, but what was that like to shoot and did you both get a lot of freedom to play around with that scene?
We had a tonne of freedom! He was great. Working with him was fantastic. He’s a big guy, very strong, very big, and there were some close calls there [Laughs] for a couple of moments. We managed to get through it well. We were given nothing but freedom to have fun and goof around which I think is the right tone for the show, without a doubt. It just felt like, based on the movie and the kind of energy that had, we were really doing our best to complement that as much as possible. Certainly, we have some high stakes, but at the same time, we keep it a fun, goofy, fanciful adventure.
You also get to see some real action, of course, with a lot of classic sword-fighting scenes. What was it like preparing for and then performing those moments?
When I first got to Wales, I worked with the stunt team, and I love all that physical stuff. I really do enjoy it. We went through the specific choreography of what it was we were going to do, and I just wanted to make sure it looked good [Laughs]. I wanted to make sure we shot it well, it looked good, and we were going to accentuate the feats. And that it would be a nice, unexpected return. I like the sacrificing aspect in that Allagash is willing to sacrifice himself in order to help and save the gang so they can continue on their mission. I also like the fact you don’t necessarily see Allagash’s body because I feel that’s important [Laughs]. I didn’t want to be presumptuous while we were filming because I certainly had ideas of how to handle that, but I didn’t really follow through on some of them because if I’m dead, I’m dead! Again, all I can really say about it is how much fun it was. I loved working with Ruby…I thought she was great. Working with Warwick again was fantastic because he and I had done a Spamalot together about five years before this in the Hollywood Bowl in California and we loved each other then, so to get the opportunity to work with each other again was fantastic.
There was so much secrecy surrounding your role in the series and it was, as far as I’m aware, kept under wraps until the episode aired. Was that side of things a new experience for you?
We were in Wales in a pretty remote location. We were also shooting in the studio, so there was a good amount of lockdown there. Photos, of course, weren’t permitted. Disney does have pretty high standards for protecting leaks. Even with the scripts and that sort of thing; everything is colour coded and there are apps you’ve got to sign on to and then you’ve got to sign documents to make sure you don’t reveal anything…look, I appreciate that! In this day and age and world that we live in, information is so easily accessible, it gets harder and harder to keep a secret. I thought they handled this well.
You take Allagash from the prisoner in the cage who we, and the characters, don’t know is trustworthy to this person who makes a heroic sacrifice for his old friend and Elora Danan; what about that arc did you most enjoy?
To get so much in one episode I thought was great. To lay the foundations for a character like this was fun. I didn’t necessarily know I was going to be a songwriter. I learned that when we got there, but then we were able to come up with some songs which were fun to create. He’s the worst songwriter of all time and I thought that was a fun characteristic to create [Laughs]. I was making up songs whenever I could to entertain the group when we were waiting for that secret door to open.
I was rewatching The Office over the holidays and it’s always so great seeing you pop up like that. Is it fair to say cameos or guest star roles like Allagash are something you enjoy having fun with as an actor?
Yeah, it’s always nice to leave little breadcrumbs throughout shows, popping in and popping out as long as the character is someone I can have fun with and be creative with. Doing The Office was great. It was such a weird video we shot [Laughs]. I think that was the first video John Krasinski had directed, so he asked me to do it, and I was happy to do whatever I could for him as I’m a huge fan of his as well. I love popping in. I also love, like Mr. Robot, being part of that show for so long as it was so brilliantly and beautifully written. It’s given me the opportunity to pop in and out of other things and establish the kind of characters I like to play. Now, I’m working on The Spiderwick Chronicles; we’re here in Vancouver and it’s been a blast. I have a lot of freedom here because I’m playing an ogre, so there’s really no limit to how ridiculous or insane I can be and those are the kinds of characters I really like to sink my teeth into.
Mr. Robot delivered such a perfect, definitive ending, but in Willow, we don’t technically see Allagash die, so should the chance come up to reprise the role in a possible season 2, how would you feel about that?
I love fantasy, I love sci-fi, I love this world, and I love Lucasfilm. It’s such a part of my history, childhood, and life, so to get the opportunity to be involved in some way was just very fun and to get to play this kind of character was extraordinary. I do have, in my own head, a particular theory as to how Allagash could possibly have escaped from that seemingly hopeless situation. I’m willing, so if Disney is open to going again and is considering a possible Allagash return, I would mind…it would be fun!
All episodes of Willow are now streaming on Disney+.