After filming at Arborfield studios for two months, the cast and crew of The Witcher are on to the next stage on the journey towards season two: Location shoots. As we reported, the crew has set up camp in a forest near the town of Deepcut, with Ciri actress Freya Allan confirmed to be present for night shoots. We believe they are currently filming a sequence that involves her and Henry Cavill (Geralt of Rivia).
Meanwhile, a second unit gathered at what may just turn out to be one of season two’s most creepy and iconic locations. Read on for more information and our take on what may have been filmed there.
Crypts, graves and skulls
On Tuesday, this second unit prepped for nightshoots at Highgate Cemetery in Camden, London. Highgate is well known, both for being part of the “Magnificent Seven”, a group of seven large cemeteries established in the 19th Century, and for housing a few very notable graves, including that of socialist revolutionary Karl Marx. It has also been the stage of one of England’s most bizarre ghost stories, based around the nocturnal activities of an alleged vampire in the 1970s.
As far as we know, the preparation included lighting installments and smoke machines. We have also heard from an onlooker who believes he may have spotted what looked like an assembly of prop skulls the crew brought to the area, which makes sense given that it’s a graveyard.
The cemetery spans a large area filled with gateways, crypts, and tombstones. Many of them are overgrown by ivy and tendrils, giving them an ancient look. The gallery below should give you a good feel of the place.
A tinge of taphophilia
Now on to the obvious question: what have they been filming there? Who from the cast was involved in the night shoot? We can’t answer these questions with a hundred percent confidence, but we have an inkling of what might have been going on there on Tuesday night. Don’t read beyond this point if you want to avoid spoilers!
If you follow some of The Witcher‘s cast on Instagram you may have noticed that Vilgefortz actor Mahesh Jadu has recently been struck by what can only be described as an acute case of taphophilia (a lively interest in gravesites), visiting one or more cemeteries multiple times over the last couple of weeks. Concidence? We think not.
On one such occasion, he was accompanied by Lars Mikkelsen who plays Stregobor in the show. We can’t say for certain if the cemetery in question was Highgate but we wouldn’t rule it out either, based on the wooded area in the background. Even if they were visiting a totally different site, this sudden interest in tombstones is curious. Keep in mind, that The Witcher has previously combined multiple locations for the same sequence (e.g. Ogrodzieniec Castle in Poland and Egri vár másolata in Hungary for the Battle of Sodden).
A secret gathering?
If our notion is correct and the mages were gathering in a cemetery, what kind of scene are we looking at? With its ancient-looking crypts, withered gravestones, and intricate statues, Highgate would be a perfect match for an elven cemetery or necropolis, as described for instance in the novel Baptism of Fire.
So far, all signs point towards an expanded arc for the Continent’s elves in season two with sorceress Francesca Findabair (Mecia Simson) in a prominent role. This week, Simson revealed on her Instagram page that she is back at work for season two of The Witcher.
From leaks and the recent batch of official photos, we know that Yennefer and Fringilla will be captured by the elves in the first or second episode of the season. What we don’t know is how things will evolve from there. There has been speculation that Yennefer will escape her captors at one point, perhaps with the help of her erstwhile lover Istredd (Royce Pierreson), who has also been filming of late. Yet there might be another possibility.
Assuming that what we suspect is true, what business could Vilgefortz and Stregobor, two senior members of The Brotherhood of Sorcerers have on an elven graveyard? We could see the scene play out as a clandestine meeting between the mages, the elves, and possibly the Nilfgaardians, represented by Fringilla. A secret peace-conference of sorts. In this scenario, Yennefer could simply be exchanged or released instead of making an escape on her own.
All of that is pretty much speculation based on what we know, so don’t take this as more than an educated guess on our part. Yennefer actress Anya Chalotra has not been sighted anywhere near the location. Since they have been filming at night within a closed area, she could have easily escaped our notice, though.
We’re hoping to learn more about the mysterious graveyard and the scene that was filmed there soon and will update you accordingly. As ever, stay tuned!