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Why Jade From Willow Looks So Familiar

Contains spoilers for "Willow" Season 1, Episode 1

Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and "Star Wars" may see a familiar face when they tune in to the "Willow" Disney+ sequel series on Wednesday. In the original film, a 1988 fantasy of the same name starring Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer, and Joanne Whalley, kindhearted sorcerer Willow Ufgood (Davis) embarks on a quest to protect a newborn baby from dark forces. Though both Davis and Whalley will be reprising their roles in the new series, it will primarily focus on a whole host of exciting new characters — including the heroic Jade Claymore.

Jade is a talented fighter and swordswoman, first seen sparring with Kit Tanthalos (Ruby Cruz). Though Kit is promised to marry Prince Graydon Hastur (Tony Revolori), it becomes quickly apparent that the two women have feelings for one another; before choosing to flee Tir Asleen for the world beyond the barrier, they share a kiss. Jade is portrayed by Erin Kellyman, an English actor who's had roles in several major franchises.

Erin Kellyman appeared in Solo: A Star Wars Story

Erin Kellyman joined the "Star Wars" universe in 2018 with Ron Howard's polarizing spin-off film, "Solo." Set before the events of the original "Star Wars" film, "Solo" follows the titular hero made famous by Harrison Ford (now played by "Brave New World" star Alden Ehrenreich) as he attempts to pull off one of the biggest heists the galaxy has ever seen. Kellyman plays Enfys Nest, a pirate who seeks to aid a fledging rebellion by stealing the same resources Solo and his team are after. "I am honored to be a part of Star Wars," she said in an interview with the franchise's website. "I think anything that has the ability to excite kids as young as four and adults that watched the very first ones when they came out, is something very special."

Of course, for a movie with hundreds of millions of dollars in the budget (via Box Office Mojo), the audition process was quite exhaustive. "I went to a set of three auditions for the role," she recalled. "The first one I thought I had completely messed up, so when I got a [second audition] I was so surprised — but also so determined ... It was on the last audition where I met Alden and we did a screen test together. I also had to be tested on how well I can fight, so I went through some stunt tests just before my audition with Alden."

She played Karli Morgenthau on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

In 2021, Erin Kellyman got to work on another high-profile Disney property in Marvel Studios' "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier." In the immediate aftermath of the Avengers' fateful battle against the Mad Titan, Thanos (Josh Brolin), Captain America's (Chris Evans) two closest friends try to cope in a world without the star-spangled hero. Like "Willow," the series was released exclusively on Disney+. Kellyman's role on "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" was in many ways quite similar to her role in "Solo." As Karli Morgenthau (loosely based on the "Captain America" comics foe Karl Morgenthau, aka the Flag-Smasher), she plays an altruistic but violent insurrectionist attempting to preserve the global cooperation instigated by Thanos' snap.

In an interview for "Marvel's Falcon and the Winter Soldier Collector's Special" (via Marvel), Kellyman said she wasn't given scripts during the audition process. Though she was excited that the Flag-Smasher had been reimagined as a woman, she was taken aback by how outright villainous he is in the comics. "After I got the scripts, I understood her a little more – how her reasoning and her actions come out of a good place," she said. Kellyman also described Morgenthau's childhood and how that informed her actions throughout the series. "She has grown up quite displaced ... She's kind of grown up on the streets, just trying to fend for herself, really," she explained. "Obviously, she ends up trying to forcefully make things right within the world and help out displaced people, but it gets a little messy."

Kellyman was Winifred in The Green Knight

In 2021, Erin Kellyman had a supporting role in A24's epic medieval fantasy film "The Green Knight," which adapts the Arthurian legend "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." In the film, Gawain (played by "Slumdog Millionaire" star Dev Patel) accepts a challenge from the mysterious and supernatural Green Knight (Ralph Ineson) — if anyone can strike him even just once, they will win the knight's ax. However, the victor must meet the knight in a year to receive an identical strike. Though Gawain decapitates the knight, the knight remains alive to make good on his challenge.

Kellyman played Winifred, another character of legend — though she doesn't actually appear in the poem upon which the film is based. According to Vanity Fair, Saint Winifred was a Welsh martyr who was decapitated by an angry suitor. Though Gawain gives her peace by reuniting her head with her body in the film, legend says that it's Saint Beuno who performs this act and restores her to life.

Interestingly enough, director David Lowery cited the original "Willow" film as a source of inspiration for "The Green Knight." The shot of the caged skeleton is meant to reference Val Kilmer's "Willow" character, Madmartigan, and how he is introduced as a prisoner in a hanging cage.