The Willow TV series has been a long time coming. The original movie, released back in the late '80s, saw Nelwyn, played by Warwick Davis, accidentally stumble upon a child lost in the woods – a child who happened to be the subject of a prophecy that foretold a hero who would save the land from evil. Now, all these years later, we're set to find out what happened to that child, and the friend they made along the way.
The first episode, however, does not open with us meeting the fabled child, but the children of Queen Sorsha, played by a returning Joanne Whalley. Ruby Cruz is Princess Kit, while Dempsey Bryk portrays prince Airk. They are both spoilt rotten, and the first episode of the series starts with Airk being captured by evil forces and Kit having to go save him. Total Film met the two young actors to discuss their roles – and they revealed the pranks they pulled on each other. Here's the Q&A, edited for length and clarity.
Total Film: Your characters are a mix of arrogance and innocence. Is that how you would describe them?
Cruz: That's about right. I do.
Bryk: Definitely. It feels like the clear parallel, and I don't think it was completely unintentional, is between the show's royal family and the way that Hollywood functions. Audience members are going to see some of these similar archetypes, like, you have a prince and princess – you have a naivety and you definitely will find arrogance.
Cruz: They live in a bubble.
Ruby, your character is part of the main questing team along with Erin Kellyman's Jade and Ellie Bamber's Dove and more. They seem like a really fun group, both on-screen and off. Was it as fun on and off set as it seems through the show?
Cruz: It was and it really translates. We all got super close. We were together for 10 months straight in the middle of nowhere. And we definitely were all on this quest together, having no idea what we were doing. It helped that we were going through exactly what our characters were going through, going on this big adventure, with all this pressure, this ragtag team of such different people. Super cool.
Bryk: Growing up, sometimes your friends will be the characters on a TV show. That's where you outsource your socializing to – that's what I did anyway. This group of characters is like the friends you wish you had, but also this group of friends are the friends you wish you had.
Dempsey, you're the MacGuffin for the show after your character is captured and everyone must save you. That must have quite a fun thing to be?
Bryk: It was funny because we did boot camp together, so we spent a month together, training and getting to know each other and living in each other's houses. It was a nightmare for production, they never knew where any of us were. But then there is the impetus to go on the quest. And so it became a very different experience for me shooting than for these guys shooting in a variety of ways.
This is a Lucasfilm production, and they are quite well known for their secrecy. How much of that did you guys have to negotiate? Were you burning scripts after every set visit?
Cruz: Oh my God, it was such an ordeal. Every day, we'd have to turn in our sides.
Bryk: I literally have a video on my phone of me burning a script. They made me burn the script because I lost one by accident.
Cruz: You were always getting in trouble!
Bryk: I was. And I apologize for posting Instagram Stories.
Cruz: On set!
Bryk: It was good for them, me being involved. I'm scared because, after a week, they took my name off the trailer and started calling me 'TMZ reporter' because they were like, 'This is where they're gonna get all the leaks.'
Cruz: They're so secretive. We had to wear these massive coats everywhere we went [to cover up costumes]. There was one time when the paparazzi came to set with long-lens cameras. And production was holding open umbrellas in front of us, between us and the cameras.
Bryk: I did a prank on [co-star] Ellie [Bamber]. It might have been before she was in the show. I texted her from a number she didn't know because I just got my UK number. And I pretended to be a reporter from The Sun. And I thought she would just realize it was me pretty quickly, but it went all the way up through production, all the way to security, publicity, and they were spiraling. Our publicity manager literally spilled coffee on herself. And I think at that point, they just...
Cruz: Your pranks go way too hard. I've been wanting to talk about this for a long time.
Bryk: Oh God!
Cruz: So, we had been training together in LA. And it was like we knew each other, immediately, like we had known each other in another lifetime. I felt very comfortable around him. But then we were trying to leave for Wales, and we had to get vaccinated right before we left. We set up, through your team, that I was going to get my vaccination. I was like, 'Okay, I'm going to just trust you. And you can handle that. And then we'll go get vaccinated together.'
It was a Thursday, I remember, and I went to pick you up and you're like, 'I have the address that my manager sent me, just start heading west.' And I start heading west. He's like, 'Oh, this is weird, the address is actually back on my street.' I'm like, 'That was all apartment buildings. That was a residential area.' He calls his manager to make sure it's the right address, and I start heading back. The manager's not answering because he just got vaccinated. I'm like, 'This is really weird. This is some apartment.' But we go upstairs into this dude's apartment.
We sit on couches, and this dude's like, 'My mom's a doctor. She just gets me these vaccinations. So if you can just Venmo me 100 bucks each?' He goes out of the room to get the vaccines, and I'm like, 'Dempsey, what is that? I'm not gonna get shot by this dude whose mom is a doctor!' You're like, 'No, I already Venmoed him. It's fine.'
He comes back. And we're sat there and I'm just sweating bullets. And when he opens this box, to make sure all the paper works, I open it and it says, 'You've been pranked!' And it's just some dude that Dempsey knows. It was so crazy. And then you're like, 'Okay, let's go get the real vaccine.'
Bryk: There may be video of that somewhere...