Redanian Archives X: Behind the Scenes of The Witcher

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In the last Redanian Archives, we covered Netflix’s filming of The Witcher on the Canary Islands. This time, we’ll follow the show’s cast and crew as they return to Budapest to film the climactic fight scene of short story The Bounds of Reason, involving dwarves, mages and a golden dragon. Join us for another exciting look behind the scenes while we wait for the show’s trailer, coming this Halloween.

Week 20, Part 2: Back to Budapest

With filming in the Canary Island’s La Palma lasting till the end of the week, another of The Witcher‘s filming units was already prepping for a location shoot in the very heart of Budapest. Later that week, filming began in the beautiful Vajdahunyad Castle.

A sunny day at Vajdahunyad Castle, image via Google
The crew shuts down the entry to the castle
The crew assembles behind the gates of Vajdahunyad Castle, while tourists keep pouring in
Tourists walking past the crew’s tents on location
Trailers parking outside the castle. This may be Henry Cavill’s trailer, as he was on location

What scenes did they film inside this castle? Well, we know that Henry Cavill was on location as Geralt of Rivia (having recently flown in from the Canaries), as that was confirmed by an Instagram report. Also filming there were a group of Hungarian models, including the former Miss Hungary Ildiko Polgar (as well as Claudia VargaFlora Garai and Dominika Simak). We also know that screams were heard from the castle.

RELATED ARTICLE: Henry Cavill, former Miss Hungary, screams and possible nudity during Vajdahunyad castle filming for The Witcher

Ildiko reports from the Witcher set
Crew tents within the castle, via model Claudia Varga
Models wearing robes inside the castle, most likely filming nude scenes
Flora Garai preps for the filming of at Vajdahunyad Castle

Finally, one recent update from “Film Destination Budapest” (a page dedicated to comparisons of frames from popular movies and TV shows to their filming locations in Budapest) seems to confirm that the halls within Vajdahunyad Castle will appear as the show’s Cintra. The frame compared here is the one where Geralt speaks to Adam Levy‘s character Mousesack, shown in The Witcher‘s first teaser.

A similar location shown in the show’s concept art, unveiled during a reporter’s visit to the set in April 2019

RELATED ARTICLE: TV host might have just revealed concept art for the series, our first look at Ciri, and videos from the set

Meanwhile, cast members belonging to episode 6’s adaption of The Bounds of Reason short story regrouped at Budapest for stunt training, in preparation for the episode’s big fight sequence (hint: it includes a dragon). First off is Jeremy Crawford who plays the dwarven dragon hunter Yarpen Zigrin, reporting from a gym in Budapest. Soon after, another of the actors from the episode’s band of dwarven hunters, Michael Keene (Xavier Moran), specifically mentioned stunt training in Budapest. Later, Crawford joined fellow Bounds cast members Simeon Dyer (the dwarf Lucas Corto), Adele Oni (the warrioress Tea) and her stunt double Ayanna Linton for a day off touring around Budapest. Collette Dalal Tchantcho who plays Vea joined them as well.

Vea, Tea and a stunt double

In the weekend, Amit Shah (who plays the books’ hilarious goat-man Torque) wrapped filming of The Witcher. Updating fans on his Instagram account, Shah mentioned the joy of working with star Henry Cavill. In a now-deleted tweet, Shah congratulated the men and women of Millenium FX, the company behind the prosthetics which brought his character to life. Interestingly, and around the same time, the Torque actor exchanged follows with one of The Witcher‘s recurring stuntmen- and that stuntman shared an interesting picture only a few days earlier. Could this be Torque’s stunt double in costume?

This stuntman shares a picture from work- and this could be our first look at Torque in costume

Further teasing what appears to be the weekend’s filming of episode 2’s The Edge of the World short story (involving Torque, Geralt and Joey Batey‘s Jaskier as well as a couple of violent elves), showrunner Lauren Hissrich teased the fans with the following tweet.

The zoomed-in “spoiler” picture, most likely the town of Upper Posada from the short story The Edge of the World

Week 21: Hunters clash with a dragon at Hungary’s Szelim Cave

With stunt training for the episode 6 fight sequence completed, the cast and crew traveled to Hungary’s Szelim Cave, where they would film throughout the week. If the fight sequence is anything like it was in the books (which is likely), a giant, golden dragon would be involved. Opposing that dragon are the knight Ser Eyck of Denesele (played by Jordan Renzo), the Reavers led by Boholt (played by Steve Wall) and Yarpen Zigrin‘s company of dwarves (with Crawford as Yarpen, Dyer as Lucas Corto, Keene as Xavier Moran and Kain Francis in an unknown role). Also present are the warriors Tea and Vea (played by Oni and Tchantcho) and presumably the mysterious Borch Three Jackdaws (actor unknown). All of these cast members were present for the filming at Szelim cave, and stars Henry Cavill, Anya Chalotra and Joey Batey were almost certainly there as well. Unfortunately, no dragons were spotted on location.

Outside Szelim cave
A statue near Szelim cave, where The Witcher filmed throughout the week
Fake blood and what appears to be a charred torso, but we’re not fully convinced this is from Szelim (it could be an older photo)
Stunt actress Ayana Linton (doubling for Tea) outside Szelim Cave
The maw of Szelim cave, via Google

So, what does the cavern look like? We have a limited number of crew pictures from inside the cave, so we’ll bolster them with some beautiful images taken by a fan who scouted the location after the show completed its shoot, and others found on the web.

The opening of Szelim cave, as seen on the inside
The cave is bigger than it seems
The central chamber
The beautiful Szelim Cave
A crew picture showing the lighting equipment they placed above the hole in the cavern’s ceiling
The stunt team poses for a selfie at Szelim cave during “rig rehearsals”

Seeing as the cavern, though big, doesn’t seem large enough for a golden dragon, it’s possible filming took place outside the cavern as well. The forest and surrounding area are also quite beautiful.

The forest outside the cave, via Reddit’s u/KorianHUN
Flowers near Szelim cave, and a few crew members chilling near the buffet trailer
Special effects trucks possibly carrying a dragon to the location
The crew’s crane towering above the mountainside outside Szelim cave, but not a lighting rig. Maybe it is related to the dragon as well

A local news report, providing the above photographs, details the Witcher’s secretive shoot at Szelim Cave: “The large parking lot in front of Turul is closed and only the statue can be approached, people are not allowed in Szelim Cave at this time. Still, some of the costumed, mostly eye-catching characters were caught, talking cheerfully, drinking coffee while waiting for their scene. It is possible that some battle scenes are being fought here because others were masked in blood.” Later, the report adds: “The area around the cave is enclosed and a huge crane has been set up. There is security on site, fire brigade and ambulance in case something goes wrong.” And so, it appears The Witcher‘s crew brought Fire and Blood to the set at Szelim Cave. Which is apt, given the dragon connection.

Following the wrap at Szelim, the Bounds cast took to the show’s headquarters in Origo Studios, where they completed their scenes.

Filming of The Bounds of Reason‘s climatic fight scene wrapped the following week, during a rainy Monday afternoon. At the very same time, a second filming unit took off for a quick detour to The Witcher author’s homeland, Poland, where they would film for a single, leak-heavy day. That would mark the first leg of filming for the season finale’s adaption of the Battle of Sodden. Join us on the next Redanian Archives as we revisit the season’s most generous leak.

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