Redanian Archives recounts the filming of Netflix’s The Witcher with behind the scenes pictures and revelations. This time, we’ll revisit the crew’s exciting detour to The Witcher‘s homeland – Poland. In the ruins of the old Ogrodzieniec Castle, Polish fans were able to spot the crew in the process of filming and provide us with season one’s biggest leak.
Week 22, Part 1: Poland
It began on Monday, April 8, with a photo shared in the Instagram story of Therica Wilson-Read (who portrays sorceress Sabrina Glevissig). It was a selfie featuring herself and costar Anna Shaffer (The Witcher‘s Triss Merigold), and was captioned: ‘the mages are on the move.’ Soon, we would learn that Wilson-Read and Shaffer were only two of several mage actors and actresses taking off for the week’s shoot in The Witcher author’s homeland – Poland.
Arriving for prep at Ogrodzieniec Castle Monday afternoon, the crew gathered around the show’s newest director Marc Jobst. Jobst was not originally slated to direct episodes for The Witcher, and was only brought on board when the decision was made to rework the show’s pilot episode (including extensive reshoots and several recast roles).
RELATED ARTICLE: Director Marc Jobst Filming Scenes for the Season Finale
Other than Jobst, showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich was also on location. She had originally visited Ogrodzieniec the year before, as part of her trip to Poland to meet author Andrzej Sapkowski and explore the cultural roots of the series, and the castle had then become the banner of her twitter page. One year later, it would become the setting of The Witcher‘s climactic battle sequence, based on the novels’ Battle of Sodden. This sequence was adapted for the season one finale (episode eight), and was completed with several weeks of filming in Hungary’s Egri Var castle ruins throughout the month that followed. Another interesting note is that the shots filmed in Poland (or at the very least, one of these shots) will happen very early in the episode – in the episode’s third scene. This was confirmed in the picture below, where a crew member is seen holding a clapperboard in Poland.
Poland, naturally, is full of fans of the series and many of them were eager to set aside their plans and dash to Ogrodzieniec castle for the chance to see the cast and crew of The Witcher at work. Fortunately, they brought cameras. In the picture below, we have cast members Rhianna McGreevey (Lytta Neid, or Coral), Jim Caesar (role unknown), Mahesh Jadu (Vilgefortz), Therica Wilson-Read (Sabrina), Anna Shaffer (Triss) and MyAnna Buring (Tissaia) – all in costume. Judit Fekete who plays Vanielle of Brugge was also nearby.
Also on location, perhaps for the first time, was Mahesh Jadu. Jadu plays the mercenary-turned-mage Vilgefortz of Roggeven, who has a very important role throughout the series. He was spotted in costume alongside Shaffer in the image below.
Fortunately, this was merely the first of many leaks coming from the show’s filming at Ogrodzieniec castle. These following videos are the product of an immense effort on behalf of the Polish fandom, who consider The Witcher very close to their heart. Dozens of fans gathered at Ogrodzieniec castle within a day’s notice (and some even the very same day!) to provide us with the season’s best leaks.
Two scenes received the lion’s share of the crew’s attention during the Poland shoot. The first features Buring and Shaffer’s characters, Tissaia and Triss, respectively. In this scene, Triss appears to be in great distress, and Tissaia (presumably a mentor to the younger sorceress) chooses to give her the cold shoulder. Before that, the actresses are seen walking side by side along the bridge, acting against the challenging Polish winds. At one point, Triss stops to kneel and raises some dirt in her hand, only to let it fall back down to the ground.
In the books, the Battle of Sodden is a defining moment for Triss Merigold. Triss is scarred physically and mentally following a near-death experience. It remains to be seen if Netflix will follow the books in this case, but it’s clear that Triss will have a major role in this sequence.
The second scene leaked during the Poland shoot featured the mages marching along the castle walls, and walking past a certain balcony. Watch the video below, or scroll down for the highlights.
In the video, the mages are led by Mahesh Jadu‘s character Vilgefortz. Though Vilgefortz would become one of the series most despicable villains later in the books, the mage has an entirely different role in the Battle of Sodden. There, Vilgeforz led the mages to victory in the battle against Nilfgaard and was given the title “Hero of Sodden”. It appears, then, that the show will stick to the source material in that regard (even if the setting of this battle has changed).
Also visible, for a fraction of a second, is star Anya Chalotra in costume as Yennefer of Vengerberg. In the books, Yennefer participated in the battle and, like Triss, was severely wounded. In Yennefer’s case, it was Nilfgaardian sorceress Fringilla Viggo (played by Mimi Ndiweni in the show) who was responsible.
What exactly is happening in this scene is not very clear, and for now we lack the context to understand where the mages are and what they are doing. Though this is clearly an adaption of Sodden, this does not look like the books’ Sodden Hill. It’s quite likely that the sequence was altered to some extent.
Another cast member on location makes this even more confusing. Jack Bandeira, who also happens to be in a relationship with McGreevey (who plays Coral), was on location as the character “Young Alderman.” This would mean that the characters spotted in Poland are not all mages, and some of them appear to be people under the mages’ protection.
With two days of filming completed in Poland, the crew packed up and returned to Budapest, where another unit was already hard at work filming something entirely different. On the lakeside of Tata Castle, The Witcher‘s crew filmed scenes with the dynamic duo Henry Cavill and Joey Batey. Join us next time as we revisit the filming at Tata and provide clearer context to the show’s filming of the Battle of Sodden at Egri Var.