Before we got to see Henry Cavill and all the other stars of The Witcher on Netflix, the show has been through a grueling filming period of eight months during which it has undergone extensive changes, including reshoots of its opening episode set in the town of Blaviken. Now, we found some interesting new images that give an impression of what the pilot could have looked like.
The Blaviken fight
Most notably, the entire fight sequence between Geralt and Renfri was redone. Emma Appleton took over the part of the rogue princess from Millie Brady, who couldn’t make it to due to scheduling conflicts. Professional stuntmen were put in place of the actors who originally played Renfri’s men, with the exception of Peaky Blinders star Packy Lee who replaced Shane Atwool as Nohorn. Even more important was the addition of two new faces: fight coordinator Wolfgang Stegemann, who was brought along by recommendation of Henry Cavill himself, and director Marc Jobst who stood in lieu of Game of Thrones veteran Alik Sakharov.
Newfound images now reveal that the original fight took place in a much more crowded marketplace as opposed to the desolated back-alley of the final version. Perhaps, the original sketch was modeled closer to the plot of the books, with Renfri’s men threatening mass murder to force the wizard Stregobor (Lars Mikkelsen) out of hiding.
Interestingly, Henry Cavill was originally wearing the same armor as during his adventure at the edge of the world in “Four Marks”. This was later changed to a simple shirt.
Also recast was the part of Marilka, the young talkative daughter of the alderman of Blaviken, who guides Geralt to Stregobor’s tower. Orginally played by Rebecca Benson, she was later replaced by Mia McKenna-Bruce. Also, in the original version the kikimore carcass was carried on a donkey, just like in the books. In the final version, the carcass is carried by Roach.
The Kikimore fight
Another scene that was changed (although it wasn’t part of the reshoots) is Geralt’s clash with the kikimore, that serves as the first episode’s cold open. In the show, we’re thrown headlong into the fight, with Geralt and the beast suddenly surfacing from the sludgy depths of the pond. As we know from the teaser, the scene was originally longer and included shots of Geralt before taking on the monster.
Speaking of the kikimore fight, we’ve also found some new concept art of the monster and a layout of its natural habitat.
In Episode One, it’s mostly through exposition that we hear about Renfri and her sad tale. Once the daughter of King Fredefalk of Creyden, she was believed to be cursed and driven out of her country by the intrigues of Stregobor and her stepmother Aridea. However, this wasn’t always how the story was supposed to be told, as the show filmed a flashback sequence that was later cut.
This early version included Inge Beckmann as Queen Aridea and Lila Prideaux as Young Renfri. As we know from leaked footage, Mikkelsen’s Stregobor was also involved, as were a number of children including a childhood friend of Renfri’s played by young Spanish actress Ellè McGhie .
The pilot wasn’t the only episode affected by changes. Actress Mya-Lecia Naylor, who tragically passed away in April, filmed scenes alongside Anya Chalotra‘s Yennefer and may have played a younger Triss Merigold in an ealier version of Episode 3. This episode is dedicated to Mya-Lecia.
Finally, there are three shots released as promotional images but unused in the final version. Here we have Geralt at the inn in Blaviken, and atop his horse Roach riding through a pine forest and halting at Fort Monostor which stood in for Cintra in the show.
It’s not unusual for a show as big as The Witcher to change form in between the start of filming and the end of post-production, especially considering that the scripts alone have been rewritten nine times. Here’s hoping that we’ll be seeing more of that unused material soon, whether it’ll be as deleted scenes or new images.