Willow actor Ellie Bamber on the “pressure” of keeping the Disney Plus series’ big secret

Dove the kitchen maid stares at something off camera in Willow on Disney Plus
A major revelation about Dove is made during Willow's Disney Plus series. (Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney Plus)

Major spoilers follow for Willow’s Disney Plus series.

Willow actor Ellie Bamber has spoken of the “pressure” of being cast as a vitally important character with a big secret in the Disney Plus fantasy series.

Bamber – who starts the series playing Dove the kitchen maid – is eventually unmasked by Willow (Warwick Davis) as the grown-up version of Elora Danan, the baby found by the side of river in the original 1988 film who sparks the quest to return her to a Daikini family. 

Speaking exclusively to TechRadar about whether she knew about her character’s secret when she first auditioned for the role, Bamber says: "I had an inkling. There was quite a lot of secrecy around the first round of auditions, then I spoke to Jon [Jonathan Kasdan, who developed the story] and it became a bit more clear. He said ‘Something happens and there’s a reveal’. My agent had a weird suspicion that maybe it was to play the baby, then I found out I was going to play the baby, so of course I was super-excited about that prospect.

"It was really hard keeping it a secret from friends and family,” she adds. “I’ve had a couple of slip-ups!"

The main cast of Willow stand in a forest and look around for something in the Disney Plus show

Searching for that big secret like... (Image credit: Lucasfilm/Disney Plus)

In the film, the evil queen Bavmorda says that the marking on Elora Danan’s arm proves that she will try to overthrow her and demands that she is killed. However, in the sequel series, we find out that after Willow gave the baby to Madmartigan (Val Kilmer, who is sadly not part of the new production) and Bavmorda’s warrior daughter Sorsha (Joanne Whalley), they hid her with a new family and gave her a different identity to keep her safe from prying eyes.

Given the fact the movie is a cult classic with a legacy stretching more than three decades, Bamber – who has recently appeared in The Serpent and The Trial of Christine Keeler – says that she felt the weight of expectation on her. 

"There really was a pressure," she admits. "I think just going onto the set and seeing the scale of it and the costumes and seeing that everyone was at the top of their game was something that became very daunting. I was like, 'Wow, here I am among some of the best creatives in the industry and I’ve also got to be on the top of my game as well. But I often turn anxiety into excitement as they’re so closely related, so I just tried to get really excited about it."

The 10-part TV show sees the grown up Elora Danan reunite with Willow, who has to teach her of her own sorcerer powers as they go on their own quest in a bid to save a kidnapped Prince Arik (Dempsey Brik). And Bamber says some of her favourite scenes to film in the whole series were with the eponymous star of the new series. “The scenes where I’m learning magic with Warwick (Willow) were so fun to film,” she adds. “We really got to really improvise and build this rapport.”

For more Willow-based content, check out our in-depth chat with the show’s cast to find out how “everything aligned” ahead of the series’ production, training for its action sequences, and more. Alternatively, check out the best Disney Plus shows and best Disney Plus movies to stream now.

Willow is now streaming on Disney Plus.

Laura Martin
Freelance Writer

Laura Martin is an entertainment journalist who covers TV, film, and music. She's written for numerous big publications, including TechRadar, Esquire, BBC Culture, The Guardian, and The i newspaper. Her favourite stories usually involve prestige TV drama, reality TV, or true-life documentaries. Basically, the more obscure, the better!