The Witcher has released worldwide on Netflix, delivering magic, monsters, laughs and tears in equal measure. Boasting a cast led by Superman‘s Henry Cavill, the show has brought many of the characters of Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels to life on the small screen. Below, we’ve gathered five fun facts about The Witcher‘s leading cast members.
MyAnna Buring who plays Tissaia was Anna Hennrietta’s voice actress in The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
One of the most memorable supporting performances of season one is MyAnna Buring‘s Rector of Aretuza, Tissaia de Vries. An experienced sorceress, Tissaia serves as a stern mother figure to star Anya Chalotra’s Yennefer. But this wasn’t Buring’s first time portraying a character in the Witcher franchise.
Buring’s first run-in with the series was in 2015’s The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, where she lended her voice to one of the Blood and Wine expansion pack’s most beloved characters: the Duchess of Toussaint, Anna Henrietta.
Buring is not the only actor associated with the show who voice-acted for The Witcher III. The second actress is Lu Corfield, who plays a minor character named Marites. In the games, Corfield voiced the ghost of Iris von Everec in the Hearts of Stone expansion.
Jaskier actor Joey Batey is also a singer-comedian and knows how to play the lute
As in the books, Jaskier is a womanizing troubadour and famous poet who follows Geralt around in his adventures. Jaskier serves as a foil to the more reserved, introverted Geralt and their relationship produces some of the series funniest scenes. In the Netflix adaption, actor Joey Batey was selected for this role, and fans fell in love with his portrayal immediately.
Batey shares many qualities with his on-screen role. Firstly, the actor happens to be one of two singers of the indie British folk band The Amazing Devil. Batey has also learned to play the lute, Jaskier’s instrument of choice, long before he was cast in the role. Other than singing and acting, Batey has experience in stand-up comedy.
Speaking of Jaskier’s role in the story and his relationship with Cavill’s Geralt, this is what the showrunner had to say: “It was about the best way to include Jaskier in the stories, and that, in my opinion, is being a foil to Geralt. Their scenes together are amazing. Jaskier drives Geralt a little bit crazy, but also he’s a little bit of a truth-teller to Geralt, and he’s able to get in. You know, I always talk about that soft squishy place inside Geralt that he wants to keep it all in, and Jaskier basically points at it. He’s like a five-year-old, and digs in and sort of just basically pokes at him. So it’s a lot of fun.”
Stars Henry Cavill (Geralt) and Anya Chalotra (Yennefer) did their own stunts
By now, it’s a well known fact that star Henry Cavill had no stunt doubles in The Witcher‘s first season. This is surprising because the monster hunter Geralt of Rivia has many fight scenes throughout the season. “You will be seeing a lot of fighting, which means that you are seeing a lot of Henry,” the showrunner said. “So Henry did not have a stunt double. He does all of his own work. Any time you see him, it’s really him. Which means that he trained non-stop. Always had swords in his hand. Was always sort of in the training room with his team.”
When asked about this himself, Cavill explained his decision to take over all stunts. “It’s very important to me that, when you see Geralt on screen, that you know it’s Geralt. And that it’s not ‘some guy’ that can do the Geralt stuff and I’m just the actor. For me, the character involves all of that.”
Henry Cavill wasn’t the only star who did his own stunts during The Witcher‘s filming. Anya Chalotra, who plays leading lady Yennefer of Vengerberg, did most of her own stunts as well. “I did my own stunts [too]. There was [only] one I didn’t have time to do but I really wanted to… I can’t say what it is. But I loved it. It was very physically demanding.”
Freya Allan (Ciri) was originally cast in another role
Freya Allan is a relative newcomer to the filming industry, but that didn’t stop Netflix from casting her in the role of the Lioncub of Cintra, Princess Ciri. In the books, Ciri eventually becomes the story’s central character (perhaps even more so than Geralt), with the entire narrative revolving around her destiny. Unsurprisingly, the casting of Ciri was very challenging for the team behind The Witcher, and Freya Allan was actually first cast in an entirely different role: the first episode’s Marilka, the daughter of the alderman of Blaviken.
Showrunner Lauren Hissrich explained how Freya’s role was reconsidered: “Freya, actually, we had cast her as another character in the first episode, and she was signed, sealed and done for that. I couldn’t find a Ciri that I loved. Sophie Holland, our casting director, actually called me and said, ‘I’d love [for] you to think about Freya Allan for this.’ So I flew over to London, and we cast Freya that day.”
Allan herself was already signed to play a minor role in the first episode when she was recalled for another audition, this time for a series lead. “I found out I got the role a day before my birthday […] I got Blood of Elves and read it in two days. It’s the only book I’ve read [so far]. From the book, I understood the essence of Ciri, her stubbornness and how fun that would be to play.”
Mahesh Jadu (Vilgefortz) teaches villain acting courses
Fans of the novels were surprised when Mahesh Jadu‘s role in season one was first revealed. The mercenary-turned-mage Vilgefortz of Roggeven was introduced only in the third book of Sapkowski’s saga. By then, the character is regarded as the “Hero of Sodden”, who led the Northern mages in the decisive battle. Of course, his role changes quite a bit throughout the saga, and he ends up opposing a few of the main characters. We won’t spoil how and why this happens (read the books!).
In any case, Jadu’s casting was certainly an interesting one. Having played the magnetic villain Ahmad in Netflix’s Maro Polo for two seasons, Jadu has had his share of experience on the dark side. The Australian actor even teaches a course at Marbella Film School titled a “villain course”.
The course blurb reads: “With Mahesh Jadu on your side, you will be learning first hand villainous traits and the characteristics of what makes a conflicted character.” Seeing Vilgefortz develop throughout the show is one of the things we’re most looking forward to.
Haven’t yet seen The Witcher? Well, what are you waiting for? The show’s first eight-episode season has already released on Netflix. Check back with Redanian Intelligence throughout the week for our episode reviews and story breakdowns.
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