With less than two weeks to go for the premiere of The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, the excitement for the much-awaited prequel focusing on fan-favorite Vesemir, Geralt’s mentor is huge. The writer of the anime movie, Beau De Mayo spoke at length with CBR and The Verge about the project, and we have picked out some of his best quotes. We have also included quotes from the film’s director and executive producer, Studio Mir’s Kwang Il Han.
Why Beau DeMayo chose Vesemir’s story to tell
As a fan of the books and the games, DeMayo was not new to the character and Vesemir was a natural choice because The Witcher is “at its core about families and how we pass along what we learn to future generations.”
DeMayo elaborates, “As Geralt’s mentor and father figure, Vesemir was the ideal protagonist. It allowed the team to explore a new time period, before the events of the show, but also have an entirely different kind of lead. Vesemir and Geralt are both witchers, mutated mercenaries who kill monsters in exchange for gold, but their personalities are completely opposite.”
About Nightmare of the Wolf’s version of Vesemir
Nightmare of the Wolf’s Vesemir is very different from the one we know from the games and the books. Vesemir in the anime is young, dashing, and charming. DeMayo explains how this happened.
“I was thinking about my own relationship to my parents and how so much of my identity is formed in opposition to what my parents are. And so, if Geralt is the grumpiest person alive, it made sense to me that Vesemir would be an extrovert and this kind of charismatic character. Where it became interesting for me was taking the world, we knew through Geralt’s point of view, which is a hard world with a hard character, and then we put this life-loving, pleasure-seeking character in that same world, and see how he interacts with it.”
About filling the gaps in The Witcher saga missing in the books and the stories
Admitting that it was intimidating filling the gaps because of the passion fans have for the lore. DeMayo says, “Yeah, it was intimidating… But at the end of the day, I just tried to trust and tell the best story possible that serviced Vesemir, that services the franchise as a whole and just the spirit of The Witcher and Lauren’s vision for the whole show as it is. But also filling in these gaps that I know as a fan that I was curious about. You know, we still don’t know a lot about mages. Even when you read the books, you still don’t know a lot about mages. There’s a lot of mystery there. So, I just tried to go like, “What are the areas that if I was a fan, I wouldn’t mind someone creating a character to answer that unanswerable mystery in the Witcher canon?“
About creative liberties taken while adapting the lore
DeMayo says being a fan of Sapkowski, the books, and the games, he trusted his own instinct while adapting the lore and was well aware of the passion fans have for the lore and the characters.
“I do come from a place where I do want fans to feel a part of the project. Like even looking at the teaser trailer, you can hear literal quotes from the novel being grafted in there and put into character’s mouths. That was very important to me, that this feels like something that is always bowing at the altar of what Sapkowski created. So that’s always going to be a pride of place and on my mind. I can tell you though that I never really felt, at least with this project, that I was ever really stepping out of line with what I think fans would want. Because, again, I came to Witcher before I got this job. I was just as much a fan before as I am now after, that I kind of just trusted my own Spidey-sense of like, “If this would piss me off, then it would probably piss most fans off because I’m pretty much that person.”
His favorite scene in the Nightmare of the Wolf
Being a spoiler question, DeMayo was quite vague while replying “It occurs at the end, and it is very crazy. I’m trying to think of how to put it in a nonvague way. Uh, it is something we have not seen ever in any of the Witcher mediums, which was the intention when Studio Mir and I talked about it, was kind of where we came at it.”
The character he related most with in Nightmare of the Wolf
DeMayo says he relates with Tetra. He explains, “You know, Tetra is just someone who’s sincerity and earnestness are so core to her character and not that– I mean, it sounds insincere to say I’m overly sincere. And there’s something about Tetra’s, like just kind of, sincerity in herself that I really enjoy and see a lot of myself.
And I wish I could say it was Vesemir, I wish I was the ultra-confident, swashbuckling, charismatic Casanova, but that is not me. I am more likely the mage who’s like, ‘Magic must be pure!’
Why anime format was chosen for the project
Anime was a natural choice for the movie because of the flexibility and ease it provides DeMayo explains, “The shift to animation had its benefits. As well as Cavill was able to inhabit Geralt, he is still a human, saddled by petty problems like “gravity.” This made creating action scenes a bit more fun in the anime. “You’re not constrained by set hours, you’re not constrained by insurance policies, you don’t have to worry about killing an actor,”
Kwang Il Han, director at Studio Mir, says anime format of the project has many practical benefits. “The actors had difficulty carrying multiple swords at the same time [in the live-action show], because they were too heavy, so they were only carrying one sword at a time,” he says. “In the anime we don’t have those restrictions.”
Director and executive producer Kwang Il Han on the brutality in the project
Admitting that Nightmare of the Wolf is more brutal than the other series’ in the Witcher universe, “Personally, I am not fond of any gore or brutal movies myself. But here, the brutality was the concept that is expressing the reality of the witchers who are excluded from the main majority. It was a representation of how the witcher’s life is like — an extreme representation of the nature of the witcher’s life.
I believe that the brutality, the showing of the brutality is, in fact, the representation of the brutality of that particular circumstance. And it actually draws the attention of the audience. It tells the audience how serious the situation is, how challenging the situation is, and how difficult the situation is.”
About adapting the extensive Witcher lore into an eighty-one-minute anime movie
Agreeing that adapting the lore was more challenging than he expected because of the depth of the material and time taken to understand the different elements from the books and the games, he says, “As you said, there are tons of details in the original novel and in the scripts. So, before we started, I thought that it’d be easier because there are so many elements out there already. But then it wasn’t exactly like that. When we actually started, it turned out to be even more difficult because there are so many things that we had to digest to make the show out of it. It was quite challenging. So, digesting it and turning it into a 70-80 minute movie… [It] was not exactly an easy challenge.”
The anime movie Nightmare of the Wolf premieres on Netflix on August 23, 2021 with Theo James, Graham McTavish, Lara Pulver and Mary MacDonnell.