On the eve of Halloween, Netflix held a panel for their upcoming dark fantasy series The Witcher starring Henry Cavill. During the panel, the show’s trailer and three clips were shown, and a Q&A session was held with showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich, series author Andrzej Sapkowski, and stars Freya Allan and Anya Chalotra (Ciri and Yennefer). Though security insisted that the audience would shut down their phones, preventing us from live-tweeting, we were able to arrange the next best thing. Our partner from Witcherflix has written down the panel’s best quotes the old fashioned way, and we’ve collected the panel’s highlights below.
The Witcher’s trailer announces a December 20 release date
The Witcher‘s first full-length trailer was unveiled during the panel, revealing as well that the show will release on Netflix this coming December 20. The trailer focuses on Cavill’s Geralt and Chalotra’s Yennefer, and suggests that the show will carry forward two important themes from the source material: morality and destiny. For a frame by frame analysis of the trailer, check out the article below.
The scenes shared during the panel are the same as those shown previously in London
Three of the show’s scenes were shown during the Lucca panel, the same three we have already reported on after The Witcher‘s panel in London. The first clip is one of Geralt fighting the knights at Cintra. The sequence was filmed over the course of five days, and appeared in both the trailer and the teaser. The second clip featured Anya Chalotra’s Yennefer in a heart-rending scene, eulogizing a dead baby. Lastly, there was a scene featuring Freya Allan’s Ciri and the character Dara, who will be traveling with her in the upcoming season. For a full transcript of the latter two scenes, check out the article below.
Quotes and highlights from the panel
Having already held a panel of his own a day earlier, series author Andrzej Sapkowski was not the focus of this panel. At one point, however, Sapkowski was asked about the success of his novels. “I always tried to do the best I could,” said the author. “If there was a way I could have done it better, I would have done it.”
Sapkowski’s series is, of course, the source material on which the show is based. Showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich, who has previously worked on Netflix shows such as Daredevil and Umbrella Academy, told of her meeting with Sapkowski before writing the show. “When I first met Andrzej, we talked about the books, ways of approaching them and also ice-fishing. I’m going for the same experience he was going for with the show. When we left the restaurant everyone wanted to take pictures of him, and only him. ”
Hissrich then explained her choice to begin the series with an adaption of the short stories, and the challenges of the adaption process. One thing that worried Hissrich was that Ciri and Yennefer (who become very important later in the series) have very few appearances in the short stories. “Adapting the books was daunting,” said Hissrich. “I wanted the audience to meet Yennefer and Ciri much earlier than season 2 or 3.”
Instead of waiting for their eventual appearance in Geralt’s storyline, Hissrich decided to bring Yennefer and Ciri to the forefront and elaborate on the backstories that the books only alluded to. “We wanted the audience to experience Yennefer’s childhood with her. We focus on her backstory and look at how she discovers her powers. She is in a constant battle with herself. We watch her become one of the most powerful sorceresses on the Continent.”
“It’s a surprise for fantasy that there are so many strong female characters,” Hissrich said. “But for me it wasn’t about creating strong women, it was about creating strong characters. There are different kinds of strengths: Geralt wields two swords, while Yennefer’s strength comes from a place of pain.”
Anya Chalotra had an interesting challenge in creating Yennefer, playing her when she was young and vulnerable and also the powerhouse sorceress she becomes. This is what Chalotra had to say about Yennefer: “There are many strong characters in Andrzej’s books. Yen is one of them. She is unafraid and unapologetic. Independent and empowered and confident in her body.”
Freya Allan‘s character, Ciri, was also given her own storyline in the show. She begins the series as a princess, but the world she’s known begins to fall apart. “Ciri has always lived inside of a bubble,” said Allan. “She has always been naive towards this world. But when she is sent into this world she learns how hard and cruel it is.”
Allan also described Ciri’s relationship with Dara, a character created specifically for the show. “When Ciri meets Dara, he becomes a massive part of her journey. He offers her a perspective on life, what she missed out on as she grew up in her bubble in Cintra. They connect and become a good team and help each other a huge amount.”
Fans are excited to see Chalotra and Allan bring their characters to life on Netflix this December, but there was a time when the series’ casting was considered controversial. “Casting was difficult because the world already knows and loves these characters,” Hissrich explained. “During casting, I was looking for soul and spirit – not for the same hair colors.”
The showrunner’s priorities were to display the spirit of Sapkowski’s characters, as well as delving into the novels’ rich themes. “The show has something for everyone. It is all about the characters. We were interested in exploring [the theme] that humans are their own worst enemies. You can find connections to our own world in the show. There is no good or evil. The audience can maybe learn a little empathy [after watching the show].”
With the biggest Lucca panel behind us, we still have another panel to look forward to. This one features a lineup of three of the show’s key crew-members: Executive Producer Tomek Baginski (who was the first to pitch The Witcher to Netflix), Production Designer Andrew Laws from the art department and Costume Designer Tim Aslam of Black Sails fame. We are quite hopeful that security will not be as strict this time and, as long as phones are allowed, Redanian Intelligence will be live-tweeting developments from the panel on Friday, 2PM Italian time. Regardless, we’ll be publishing a recap of the coming panel as soon as we can. Stay tuned!