In this entry of Redanian Archives, we’ll take a peek behind the scenes of The Witcher‘s filming in the first half of February of 2019. Prepare yourselves for intricate sets, conspiring mages, terrifying monsters, savoring leaks and a very unexpected appearance of a certain mage.
Week 13: Witch-hunters in the Tarnok Quarry
The primary location of Week 13’s filming was one Redanian Intelligence has covered at length in the past, the Tarnok Quarry. Though we have one actor confirmed near the location and a lot of pictures from inside the quarry, we still don’t know if these scenes are taken from the short stories or original material added to the show.
And how does the quarry look on the inside? Well, we think cast member Jason Thorpe (who plays Lord Ostrit, an adviser of the Temerian King Foltest) described it rather accurately in our interview with him: “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. ” In the pictures below, you’ll find that the quarry does fit that description.
So, which actors were on location? From his description, it does appear that Jason Thorpe’s Lord Ostrit filmed there. As a reminder, Thorpe appears in episode 3’s adaption of the very first short story, The Witcher, where Geralt accepts a contract from the king of Temeria to cure his daughter from a curse that turned her into a violent monster called a striga. The striga prowls the abandoned castle of Wyzim, murdering and consuming any fool who dares to challenge her. In the short story, it is explained that many have tried to cure or kill the striga- and failed horribly. It’s quite possible that one of those misfortunates will be the original character Remus, played by Gudmundr Thorvaldsson– who was lunching near the quarry during filming.
Thorvaldsson shared a picture from the town Soskut, which is adjacent to the Tarnok Quarry, and conveniently tagged the show in the image description. More importantly, Thorvaldsson described the picture as “Lunch of the Witchhunters”, which clues us regarding his role in the show. It’s quite possible that the witch Remus is hunting is the striga. Another connection between him and the striga storyline is the fact that he and Anna Schaffer, who plays the king’s sorceress adviser Triss Merigold, exchanged follows on social media that very same week. Perhaps Schaffer, too, was on location.
The fandom theorizes that, when writing “witch-hunters”, Thorvaldsson was, in fact, referring to witchers. In the short story, two witchers attempted to best the striga- one of whom was disemboweled while the other simply forfeited their contract. Another actor potentially involved is Andrey Kurganov, who plays the character Tsoka. While we aren’t certain, it appears he filmed together with Thorvaldsson- and probably in the quarry. Could they be the witchers who accepted the contract before Geralt?
It’s important to note that the quarry itself was notably missing from the trailer’s striga-heavy scenes. In the sequence seen in the trailer, the fight between Henry Cavill‘s Geralt and the mutated Princess Adda appears to have been filmed in a set built within the studio, and definitely not in the quarry. Could the quarry be another section of the catacombs of Wyzim, or something else entirely? Only time will tell.
Other than Thorvaldsson, cast members confirmed to be in Budapest during the week include Henry Cavill (the witcher Geralt of Rivia), Therica Wilson-Read (sorceress Sabrina Glessivig), MyAnna Buring (sorceress and tutor Tissaia de Vries) and also Lars Mikkelsen (the despicable mage Stregobor, but we’ll get back to him in a bit). With follows exchanged on social media during this time, it’s likely that Anna Shaffer (Triss) and Mimi Ndiweni (Fringilla) were also in Budapest.
Besides the mysterious filming at the quarry, the crew took to the forests of Visegrad and to the studio headquarters of Origo. The cast members mentioned above could have filmed in any or all of these locations.
Lastly, a Hungarian extra casting agency was searching for little actors to perform as characters “similar to Gimili or Thorin” on the 8th of February. To the best of our knowledge, The Witcher was the only fantasy project filming in that timeframe in Budapest, so these extras were likely part of the show. Whether they filmed in the Tarnok Quarry, in the forest at Visegrad or inside the studio- we don’t know. It’s important to note that these will not be the same dwarves that appear in episode 6’s adaption of The Bounds of Reason, who follow Jeremy Crawford‘s charming leader Yarpen Zigrin, as they only started filming in March. Who could these other dwarves be? One option is the seven dwarves who aid Princess Renfri in The Lesser Evil (to be adapted in the Pilot), although this could be something new entirely.
Week 14: The Mages Convene as Stregobor is in Aretuza
During Week 14, most of the filming was done in Origo Studios, and we have some interesting pictures from the show’s sets.
Actors in Budapest include Royce Pierreson (Istredd), Mimi Ndiweni (Fringilla), Therica Wilson-Read (Sabrina), Mya-Lecia Naylor (a novice sorceress, possibly a younger Triss), Ben Wiggins (Adonis), Adam Levy (Mousesack), Wilson Radjou Pultaje (the mysterious original character Dara), Anita Olatunji (“Woman”) and Joachim Paul Assbock (“Middle Aged Man”). Of the lot, the most notable is Wiggins, who spent the week in Budapest and filmed a nude scene for the show.
In March, one of our sources from the set described a scene filmed within Origo Studios (during Week 14) involving most of the mage characters. According to this source, who had previously described a scene in Cintra which then appeared in the show’s teaser, the scene was directed by Alex Garcia Lopez and involved a hunchback Yennefer of Vengerberg, played by Anya Chalotra.
In this scene, sorceress students Yennefer, Sabrina, Fringilla and someone who looks like a younger Triss (played by Mya-Lecia Naylor) were joined by male students (chiefly, Royce Pierreson‘s mage Istredd) who visit the sorceress school Aretuza for some sort of event.
Also present is Lars Mikkelsen‘s Stregobor, who is a teacher as well. Yes, you read that right. Stregobor, who only appears in The Lesser Evil and never again in the saga, had his role expanded and added to the Aretuza plotline.
Though our source mentions nothing huge happens in this scene, they were able to describe more or less what was happening on the set. The novice sorceresses were, apparently, preparing the hall for the big event, while the male novices were handling preparations outside. However, a handful male novices are able peek at the girls through the doorway. Istredd is one of them. This happens while the two teachers, Tissaia and Stregobor, are talking and pacing around the hall (they are presumably the focus of the scene). This moment likely will appear in pisode 3, as Yennefer will be transformed in time for the fourth episode
Earlier this year, an image leaked from the set involving the young actress Mya-Lecia Naylor. This appears to be part of the same sequence. In April, the promising actress tragically passed away.
Another tip from our sources pointed the location of a shot seen in the trailer. This is the scene where a fully transformed Yennefer steps towards the camera, and it was filmed in Kiscelli Museum, seen below.
Following the wrap of the mage storyline, the crew began filming material for episode 5’s adaption of the short story The Last Wish. Set in the town of Rinde, this is where Yennefer and Geralt first meet, and where they confront a powerful djinn and are subsequently bound by destiny. But that’s something we will cover tomorrow in Part VII. Stay tuned until then!