With the first teaser out and a release date for Season 2 on the horizon, it’s now promotion season for Netflix’s The Witcher, and there’s a lot of ground to cover for the cast and crew, from expectations, to set experiences, to new characters and places.
At Witchercon, stars Henry, Cavill (Geralt), Anya Chalotra (Yennefer), and Freya Allan (Ciri), as well as showrunner Lauren Hissrich talked in debth about their characters, and favorite scenes of the new season. Also present were Fringilla star Mimî M Khayisa and newcomer Paul Bullion, who plays the witcher Lambert. Both were in a sharing mood and we’ve gathered some of what they had to say below.
Basil Eidenbenz: “The way I play Eskel is completely my own”
To kick off this roundup, let’s hear from another witcher first though: Basil Eidenbenz, our Eskel in The Witcher Season 2. The Swiss actor was recently interviewed by 20min.ch and revealed that he got the casting call during lockdown: “Last year I was staying in Switzerland for a few months and at the time I used to play The Witcher on Playstation. So when I got the call, I had already been spending time in the Witcher universe for about a month.”
Eidenbenz also said that he wasn’t expecting it at all, since the part of Eskel had already been given to Danish actor Thue Rasmussen. Then, as we all know, filming of Season 2 was interrupted for months due to Covid. When it picked up again in August 2020, Rasmussen had to drop out due to scheduling issues. Eidenbenz used his chance to send a casting-tape and got the part.
My own personal superhero moment came when I got to walk across the set in full costume for the first time, with my sword on the back.
Asked about the inevitable comparison to Rasmussen and the hashtag #notmyeskel, he said: “I do get that. Rasmussen is ten years older than I am and has a very different aura. In this sense, I’m not a replacement. The way I play Eskel is completely my own.”
The grand sets and overall scale of production left quite an impression with Eidenbenz who remembered that other actors told him about their own ‘superhero moments’, the moments they realized that all this is happening and they came to fully identify with their role. “My own personal superhero moment came when I got to walk across the set in full costume for the first time, with my sword sword on the back. I looked into a mirror and realized: Holy shit, this is really happening!”
To read the full interview in German, head over to 20min.ch.
Mimî M Khayisa: “We haven’t seen the full journey yet”
Mimî M Khayisa plays the sorceress Fringilla Vigo who sort of acts as an antithesis to Anya Chalotra’s Yennefer in Season 1. At Witchercon, she talked in-debth about how it feels to play a character like Fringilla and how she can emphasize with her despite the evil deeds: “I love her. We call her Fringie for sure. I would genuinely have days where I would read the scripts of things that she does sometimes and my heart would break for her.”
You fall in love with the characters and everything they do even the worst thing, you completely sympathize. The pain you must be in to do that!
She believes that it is pain that ultimately drives Fringilla: “As an actor playing the character, you fall in love with them and everything they do even the worst thing, you completely sympathize and you want to cover them and be like its okay, we are gonna get through that awful thing that you did. The pain you must be in to do that!”
She also added that it was helpful to keep in mind that we haven’t seen Fringilla’s full journey yet and where it will lead: “You don’t need to now how it’s resolved now. That was something that I kept having to remind myself of, thinking we haven’t seen that side or we haven’t been there yet. Just trusting that right here, right now is really important for where she is going to go, wherever that may be.”
Asked about whether the actors keep notebooks on their characters to refine them, Khayisa explained that they’re making sure to talk a lot with each other: “I think it might not be a physical book that we keep, but we do definitely always check in with each other in terms of where we are. I do this thing a lot where as an actor I want to show my rage and do all these things, but to actually just check in whith each other and say we’re not at that point of the story yet, where we can fully immersive ourselves in what the truth is of that.”
That especially goes for character relationships, such as the bond Fringilla shares with Eamon Farren’s Cahir: “Even working with Eamon sometimes, we do this thing where we say ‘we’re not here yet'”
Paul Bullion: “The witchers are like a band of Navy Seals”
Lambert actor Paul Bullion vividly talked about his own experiences as a new arrival to the Witcher family: “It was quite surreal, because I actually watched Season 1 when it was released knowing that I’m gonna be joining in Season 2, which was strange but exciting.”
He described how there was a real sense of camaraderie among the witchers set, much like in the books: “To step into Kaer Morhen in Season 2 and be brought into the fold. Everyone was really welcoming.”
It was the idea that we would die for each other, we are family through shared experiences…
He credits Geralt star Henry Cavill with creating an atmosphere that would make the actors feel like a real band of brothers: “Henry brought me into the conversation about how the Witchers were more like a band of navy seals. Henry created an environment where we were could have that on set, we would laugh and tell jokes. It all fed into the scenes really well and it was the idea that we would die for each other, we are family through shared experiences.”
Bullion also looked back fondly on his many scenes shared Freya Allan‘s Ciri and there were lots of lighthearted banter moments that came up during the conversation. We now that Allan emerged triumphant in a sour-sweet eating contest with Bullion and Yasen Atour who plays Coën. There was also one particularly memorable scene, where Bullion would repeatedly miss cutting a training dummy and Allan would break into silent laughter, back turned towards the camera.
Notwithstanding these minor difficulties, he admited that getting to play with swords was something of a childhood dream come true: “Now it’s like a profession, 30 years later. It’s a great atmosphere when you get into the stunt rehearsal because there are a lot of big kids who love doing what they do.”
You can watch the full Witchercon panel and everything else you may have missed here. Although it’s still quite long way to go until The Witcher returns to the screen on December 17, we’re hoping to hear more from the cast and crew soon. Stay tuned!