Willow star Erin Kellyman on the ‘beautiful’ queer love story in Disney+ show: ‘I’m healing my inner child’

Willow star Erin Kellyman has opened up about the importance of playing a queer character in the Disney+ fantasy show.

The series, which is a continuation of the cult classic ’80s film of the same name, has been widely praised for centring an LGBTQ+ relationship.

Kellyman plays knight-in-training Jade, who fans have seen grow ever closer to her best friend, the rebellious Princess Kit (played by Ruby Cruz). In the most recent episode, ‘Wildwood’, the pair finally bit the bullet and revealed their feelings for one another. In the words of another character in the series — the pair have “have totally got the hots for each other.”

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Kellyman, who is openly gay, explained how cathartic it was to be involved in a positive queer love story, something that was sorely lacking on TV when she was growing up.

“It feels like I’m healing my inner child. Having not seen these shows when I was younger, now being able to be the representation that I didn’t have is something that is so peaceful,” she said.

Actors Erin Kellyman as Jade (L) and Ruby Cruz as Kit stand close to each other in a scene from new Disney+ series Willow. (Disney:Lucasfilms)
Actors Erin Kellyman as Jade (L) and Ruby Cruz as Princess Kit in the new Disney+ series Willow. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

“I know that if I saw this when I was a kid, I would have been completely in love with Kit and Jade, and I would have felt a lot less isolated and scared – and weird.

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“It’s just really beautiful to be able to do that now.”

The special moment between Jade and Kit was snatched from viewers when, just as they were about to kiss, a troll ambushed the pair and kidnapped Kit.

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Despite fan fury at the episode ending, Kellyman believes Kit and Jade now at least “know where they stand”.

Kellyman also explained why the characters’ relationship is particularly groundbreaking for LGBTQ+ representation as it’s not rooted in trauma or sex.

“It’s been so beautifully created. It’s not a story where they’re worried about being gay. It’s not a story where they’re hyper-sexualised. It’s just two people being in love. The gender is secondary,” she said.

“I think for anybody that is struggling with realising that they’re gay, or knows somebody that’s realising that they’re gay, having this normalised representation is just so important.”

Willow marks a huge step forward for queer representation on screen, considering the show’s creators Disney and Lucasfilm have, until recently, shied away from depicting overtly LGBTQ+ characters.

The show’s producer Jonathan Kasdan has previously said that he received “no pushback” from Disney on including the queer romance, despite the media giant having a fraught relationship with the LGBTQ+ community.

Last month, Disney’s first film with an out and proud LGBTQ+ lead character, Strange World, flopped hard at the box office, with many fans accusing Disney of failing to promote the adventure film.

Willow is now streaming on Disney+.

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