Is Val Kilmer in new Willow series? How is his health, was Madmartigan actor written out of Disney+ TV show

Val Kilmer played disgraced knight Madmartigan in the 1988 fantasy film Willow alongside Warwick Davis

The first two episodes of Lucasfilm series Willow landed on Disney+ this week, and saw the return of two main characters from the original 1988 film. Warwick Davis returned as sorcerer Willow Ufgood, and Joanne Whalley was back as Queen Bavmorda’s daughter Sorsha.

However, fans noticed one of the film’s major characters missing from the series - Val Kilmer, who played Madmartigan in the movie, did not feature in the first episodes of Willow. The actor has been through some major health battles but had expressed a desire to return in the series. Will Val Kilmer appear in later episodes of Willow and will he be in the second season? This is everything we know so far:

Val Kilmer as Madmartigan in Willow (1988)Val Kilmer as Madmartigan in Willow (1988)
Val Kilmer as Madmartigan in Willow (1988)

Who did Val Kilmer play in the Willow film?

Val Kilmer played Madmartigen, a disgraced knight who aided sorcerer Willow Ufgood in his quest to save the baby Elora Danan who was prophesied to bring the reign of the evil queen Bavmorda to an end. Madmartigan and Willow did not see eye to eye at first, but over the course of the quest the pair became fast friends.

Madmartigan also met Sorsha, the daughter of Bavmorda, who was sent by her mother to take the Eldora from Willow. However, Sorsha and Madmartigan fell in love and she switched sides, joining forces with the knight and sorcerer against her mother. At the end of the film Willow defeats Bavmorda and leaves Eldora in the care of Madmartigan and Sorsha - the pair are assumed to live happily ever after.

Is Val Kilmer in the Willow Disney+ series?

Kilmer does not feature in the first series of Willow, although both he and the producers were keen on him returning. Showrunner Jonathan Kasdan told EW: "We really wanted Val to come be in the show. 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.’"

As Kilmer was excited to reprise his role in Willow, he was written into the first season of the show. However, when the Covid-19 pandemic caused lockdowns across the world and put vulnerable people at risk, Kilmer, who was struggling with ill-health, was unable to join the production.

Joanne Whalley, Val Kilmer’s ex-wife as Sorsha in the Willow seriesJoanne Whalley, Val Kilmer’s ex-wife as Sorsha in the Willow series
Joanne Whalley, Val Kilmer’s ex-wife as Sorsha in the Willow series

This meant that his character was written out fairly late into the pre-production process. In the first episode it is revealed that Sorsha, Madmartigan’s love interest in the 1988 film, went on to marry Madmartigan and have a child with him, but things didn’t work out between them - Sorsha calls Madmartigan a conceited rogue.

Joanne Whalley, who plays Sorsha was actually married to Kilmer from 1988-1996, and had two children with him, saw the irony in this plot line. Kadsan said that Whalley couldn’t keep a straight face when reading her lines about Madmartigan.

Despite not appearing in the first season, Kasdan has stated that he hopes to make a second season of the show, and that he would want Kilmer to feature in it. With Covid restrictions now seemingly a thing of the past, it is likely that should Willow return for a second season, Kilmer will be in it.

Is Val Kilmer ill?

Val Kilmer has had major health issues in recent years - in 2017 he announced that he had gone through a two-year battle with throat cancer. He had chemotherapy and two tracheostomies to treat the cancer and now speaks through an electric voice box.

He revealed in 2020 that he had been cancer-free for four years although still experienced health struggles and needed to use a feeding tube. He had his voice digitally recreated in 2021 so that it could be used in future projects. Kilmer had a cameo appearance in Top Gun: Maverick as Iceman, the role he played in the original film. Director  Joseph Kosinski said that he used Kilmer’s real voice in the movie and digitally altered it in post-production.

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