As everyone’s hype builds for the The Witcher panel at San Diego Comic Con, Redanian Intelligence has been busy chatting with the wonderful Jason Thorpe, the actor who will play Lord Ostrit in the first season of The Witcher! We talked about his experience on the show, working with actors including Henry Cavill (Geralt), Shaun Dooley (King Foltest), Anna Shaffer (Triss), director Alex Garcia Lopez, the sets, and much more. Jason is the star here, so let’s jump straight into the Q&A below!
REDANIAN INTELLIGENCE (RI): You’re an experienced actor who’s been on all kinds of sets, for stage and for screen – how was your experience on The Witcher?
JASON THORPE (JT): Well, my scenes were split over a few weeks, so I was travelling to and from London to Budapest – and other than being ill on a couple of days of the shoot, I had a ball. Everyone was lovely and Budapest really is a beautiful city.
RI: What was the casting process like?
JT: The casting process was rather straightforward and as such a joy. It was fortunate that the material sent over for the casting was rather dramatic, it makes it easier to get inside the head of the character.
RI: We know the production is very tight-lipped, so without giving away any spoilers, what can you tell us about your character, Lord Ostrit? We know fans are excited to see him, given the role he plays.
JT: Lord Ostrit is a childhood friend of King Foltest and has assumed a position of advisor to the King. He is a diplomat first and foremost with a keen mind, he definitely believes the pen to be mightier than the sword.
RI: This was a big-budget Netflix fantasy production. How did the sets compare to other projects you’ve worked on? Were they impressive? And how intense was the filming?
JT: I’ve worked on many film sets and they all vary according to the story requirement and, of course, budget. The Witcher is set in a fantasy/medieval world and as such the sets have to be of a scale and style… the set designers I think did a wonderful job. However, I’m more excited by working on location. You can get to visit some amazing, breathtaking locales that one wouldn’t normally be able to see. We filmed for a few days in a mine around an hour’s drive from Budapest, it was stunning – vast pillars hewn out of the rock supporting a massive cavern – especially when it was lit.
RI: You previously worked on Sense8, another beloved Netflix series. What’s it like working on a Netflix series? Is there anything that stands out about it – and if so, what?
JT: Well, to be honest, most film sets are very similar, and a Netflix one is no different. There’s usually more people involved in a Netflix production but on the whole it’s like any other film set.
RI: As we know from your tweet, you were the actor Henry Cavill most enjoyed working with, so what was it like working with Henry Cavill? Did you get to meet his famous dog Kal?
JT: Haha! I was making a cheeky joke on my tweet! Seriously though, I found Henry to be lovely. Hard-working but ready for a laugh. We share a similar sense of humour so there was much merriment on set between takes… and that’s a big help, especially during the more emotional scenes. Alas, I never got to meet his dog! Another time.
RI: The Witcher features an impressively large cast and crew and we can’t help but thinking that you must have enjoyed crossing paths with some of the others too. Which other actors did you most enjoy sharing scenes with?
JT: Well, a lot of my scenes involved the actors Shaun Dooley, Sam Marks and the lovely Anna Shaffer, not forgetting Henry Cavill. We all got along beautifully. It helped that Shaun Dooley is a good friend of mine anyway, but we all had a couple of nights out in Budapest and laughed a lot!
RI: According to IMDb, the episode you’re in was directed by Alex Garcia Lopez. Alex has been getting plenty of praise recently, especially for his longshot fight scene in Daredevil. What can you tell us about his work on The Witcher, in the scenes you’ve filmed together?
JT: Alex Garcia Lopez is a legend! I like his working style. He’s very open for action to change organically, he has a mercurial style which appeals to me. I also found him to be a gentleman who never had to raise his voice to get his point across. I’m a big fan.
RI: You come from a theatre background, with your own company having won several awards. How was it coming on to a set with so much theatre talent, with Anya Chalotra as Yennefer, Shaun Dooley as King Foltest, and Sam Marks as Captain Segelin? And how does having a theatre background translate to acting for TV?
JT: You’re right, I’ve come from a theatre background. I believe it really helps when coming to a TV set to be prepared for anything and everything, and a theatre background helps with this. It’s important to make decisions about the character you’re playing, but at the same time realising that the set is full of different people with different professions all trying to make this scene work, and as such to be ready to adapt if required. But technically, theatre acting is very different to film acting. I believe that it’s easier stepping on a film set for the first time with a theatre background than it is stepping on stage for the first time with just film experience.
RI: Where does your inspiration for playing your characters come from? Or in the case of The Witcher: How much did you rely on the books versus the scripts you were given?
JT: Every actor has different methods in realising a character and making it a fully formed person. Personal experiences, of course, help with this, but I believe the key is having a rich imagination. Observing the world around you keeps an actor fresh. It’s an obvious statement but I believe it 100%. For the role of Lord Ostrit I responded to the scripts as opposed to the books.
RI: It’s obvious you really care about the show, and the fans are grateful for it. In fact, we saw this when you were trying to add The Witcher to your IMDb record! Although it took forever, we’re very happy for you that it’s finally been added. Is there anything you want to say about that? Here’s your chance!
JT: IMDb have their ways and methods of checking the validity of actor credits and I’m not entirely sure of them. I was a little surprised it took so long to get my credit for The Witcher on the database as I’ve never encountered a problem beforehand with any of my other credits. Suffice to say, it’s done now, so nothing more to add.
RI: Thanks so much for taking the time to join us here! One final question: where else can us Witcher fans see you act? What other shows, movies and projects do you have coming up?
JT: I have a TV series out at the moment called Curfew that’s just been released in the US via Spectrum. I have a feature film coming out soon called The Banishing, directed by Christopher Smith. I’m currently in the running for a couple of projects and so don’t want to vex them by naming them. Fingers crossed.
Once again, thanks so much to Jason for taking the time to answer our questions! Stay tuned to Redanian Intelligence for our analysis of his answers … that’ll be coming next.