Fans are still digesting the new trailer for The Witcher season two and all the bonus content from the show’s panel at Lucca Comics & Games on Friday. While the trailer understandably garnered attention from anyone and everyone, we’d be remiss not to mention the many insightful answers from the cast and crew.
Here’s a recap of the first half of the panel and subsequent interview round with showrunner Lauren Hissrich, costume designer Lucinda Wright and production designer Andrew Laws. Click here for the second part with actors Kim Bodnia and Joey Batey.
For those who haven’t had a chance to watch the panel, you can do so via the link below.
Lauren Hissrich: “We owe it to the fans to get to do a season 2, and 3, and hopefully 4 and 5”
Showrunner Lauren Hissrich opened the panel saying that the biggest difference between season one and two was of course the pandemic: “Covid hit three weeks into production of S2, and we shut down for about five and a half months, This gave us all the chance to look at our creative work and to make sure that that we were telling the stories of Geralt and Ciri and Yennfer and also all the other characters in the best way possible”
When production was finally given the green light to start anew everything was different than before and the challenge was to make a high end television show under these conditions: “How could we enrich the world? How could we make it even bigger? And how could we make it bigger in a time, where everything had to be a bit smaller and safer?”
She added: “”Part of dedicating your life to something like this, is to make sure that you love the people you work with, you gotta be happy doing what you’re doing, so shooting during Covid was hard for a lot of us as it didn’t allow us to have the same sense of family”
Season 3 follows a particular book very closely, it has a lot of action, some depth, some death… and monsters
Ultimately, something that was constantly on her mind was to improve on season one and make sure the series gets its chance to continue: “We didn’t know if anyone was gonna watch it and it turns out some people did and we got to do a Season 2 and so sure there’s a reponsibility, because we owe it to the fans that we get to do a Season 2 and Season 3 and hopefully a Season 4 and 5, I could keep going!”
At this point, production designer Andrew Laws chimed in saying: “Lauren forgot to mention Season 6, Season 7, Season 8 and Season 9”
When asked about the third Season that was recently announced by Netflix, Lauren had this to say: “We keep using the word bigger though I’m a little scared at this point. Season 3 follows a particular book very closely, it has a lot of action, some depth, some death…and monsters”
I have no plans to go further than the books, because Sapkowski knew where he wanted the stories to end
Looking even further into the future, Lauren has a firm stance when it comes to what she wants to adapt and what not: “I love writing what people are watching. That being said, I have no plans to go any further than the books because Sapkowski knew where he wanted the stories to end. As a writer I respect that from another writer.”
While this practically rules out an adaptation of the video games, the writers are trying to find gaps in the lore that Sapkowski did not explore as much: “Blood Origin covers the Conjuction of the Spheres for instance. We do get to write these alternate universe stories, but that’s what helps me to know that in the main series we’ll only go as far as Lady of the Lake.”
During the interview round, Lauren later recalled what she was once told about Sapkowski: “Something I learned from Tomek Baginski (executive producer), is that the biggest compliment that he can give is you’re not the worst”
For her, this humor that is present in all the books was the most improtant element to keep, as she believes it’s what really separates The Witcher from other fantasy: “Even if the world is up in flames you have to find the things to be grateful for and it’s Sapkowski’s history and Poland’s history.”
Lucinda Wright: “I loved to reinvent the Nilfgaard”
Costume designer Lucinda Wright was brought into Season 2 replacing Tim Aslan. At the panel, she said: “I obviously watched S1 and as a designer I wanted to take the good bits and go further with the characters.”
Obviously, a big part of that is Geralt’s new armor, now with some major upgrades. Wright developed the new design in close cooperation with Henry Cavill: “I sat down with Henry and he told me about the armor. Between us we decided to change it, to make it a more streamlined, more practical, more killer-look, but still keep elements like the studded silver. We made a leg brace for his elixirs.”
On the subject of the controversial Nilfgaardian armor that was totally remodelled for Season 2, Wright said: “I loved to reinvent the Nilgaard”
Piles of Nilfgaardian armor, burn it to the ground!
Showrunner Lauren Hissrich added that this was actually the very first conversation they had on set: “Lucinda came on board and in our very fist conversation, we sat down and talked about what worked and what didn’t.” At that time, writer Declan de Barra had already written the first episode of the new season and it says on page three: “Piles of Nilfgaardian armor. Burn it to the ground!”
Both Hissrich and Wright shared a laugh remembering how important that line felt, especially in terms of what they would need to change.
Ultimately, Wright is very fond of the work she did for The Witcher: “”It was a fantastic challenge to do, it was hard but I’ve loved it! I felt a huge responsibility to Season 2. I didn’t want to dissapoint the fans because I knew Season 1 was so succesful.”
Andrew Laws: “The monsters are bigger, faster, stronger, angrier, more dangerous, more ugly”
Chief production designer Andrew Laws gave us quite the tease of what to expect on December 17: “There’s an incredible intricacy to this season. We were able to add incredible layers to the world, there’s so much detail and and so much expanse both inward and outward, it really is an evolution for this season.”
In terms of the overall production design and look, there’s already a lot to build upon, with Season 1 laying the foundations: “Imagining this world, we sort of stand on the shoulders of Season 1 and it put us in a fantastic position to grow and build the world, to expand it and give it depth. We worked very closely with the writers room to understand what the seeds of the story will be, and how it will grow and how it will change with our actors””
Let’s not forget the monsters
Season 2 is largely based on Blood of Elves, a novel that is rich in political intricacies but rather short on monsters. Since they’re such an integral part of the show, the writers understandably felt like adding a couple more can’t hurt.
Laws even promised a season that is ‘very much a next level for the monsters’: “The writers gave us an incredible gift in terms of what’s happening with the monsters and it unleashed an incredible set of possibilities for what we could do and I think as a fanbase everybody will be very satisfied, this time around, they’re bigger, faster, stronger, angrier, more dangerous, more ugly, a lot more ugly!”
Laws feels like Season 2 felt much more like a challenge than a responsibility as the fanbase’s reaction elevated his own ability to be able to make something special: “I think this time around our responsibility to the fanbase was to give them things to look into, to watch things again and see more layers and to have that real density to the story.
He promised that all of that can be experienced “in the the writing, in the acting, in the perfomances, but also in the look and the feel and the textures of the world that you’re about to dive into.”
The wait is almost over! The Witcher Season 2 debuts on December the 17th on Netflix. Stay tuned to Redanian Intelligence for all things Witcher.