The Witcher is coming to streaming platform Netflix as an eight-episode TV drama in either 2019 or 2020, starring Henry Cavill as Geralt. The series is based on the Polish novel series by Andrzej Sapkowski, much like the CD Projekt Red RPG series that we're so keen on here at PC Gamer. With a showrunner in place—Daredevil and The Defenders writer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich—we've learned loads about the series through Twitter, even though Hissrich is currently taking a break from social media. We also know that writing on the series is nearing completion. As of October 2018, the final episode's script is complete. The casting of The Witcher on Netflix appears to be nearing completion too.
If you were curious about the show's credibility, too, Sapkowski is working on the Netflix series as a creative consultant.
“I’m thrilled that Netflix will be doing an adaptation of my stories, staying true to the source material and the themes that I have spent over thirty years writing,” he said in a press release. “I’m excited about our efforts together, as well as the team assembled to shepherd these characters to life.”
While we'll endeavour to keep spoilers to a minimum, please proceed with caution if you'd rather not know about the characters or story beats ahead of time. You'll find various pieces pointing in the series' direction here.
Does The Witcher on Netflix have a release date yet?
Though it was announced a year ago now, we're still some way away from seeing The Witcher's premiere, unfortunately.
Though the precise release date has yet to be confirmed, it's widely expected to release some time next year, but showrunner Hissrich herself has even suggested 2020 as a potential window. In good news, though, in late September 2018, Hissrich returned to Twitter to confirm the final episode has been written. Huzzah!
Remember when I said I was leaving to write the finale? I missed you guys! ❤️🐺⚔️ pic.twitter.com/tZyVpbrAiySeptember 24, 2018
While this isn't the first time the Witcher series has come to screens—The Hexer, a 13-episode Polish language series adaptation of the series, was broadcast way back in 2002, and a poorly-received Polish movie preceded it in 2001—this is the first time we'll have seen an on-screen adaptation outside of Poland.
It's been confirmed that the inaugural Witcher Netflix series will feature eight episodes.
What is the story of The Witcher Netflix series?
If you head on over to The Witcher on Netflix right now, there's already a placeholder synopsis to tempt you into pre-adding the show to your list.
While the Netflix blurb—"The witcher, Geralt, a mutated monster hunter, struggles to find his place in a world where people often prove more wicked than beasts"—doesn't give away much, an official synopsis revealed by executive producers Sean Daniel and Jason Brown tells us a little more, indicating that the show follows an unconventional family that "comes together to fight for truth in a dangerous world."
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Tomek Baginski and Jarek Sawko of Polish visual effects studio Platige Image said in a statement: "There is a moral and intellectual depth in these books which goes beyond genre. It is a story about today and today’s challenges, hidden under a fantasy cover. It is a story about us, about the monster and hero inside of all our hearts."
On Twitter, Hissrich has introduced us to other writers, like Declan de Barra (The Originals), Jenny Klein (Jessica Jones) and Sneha Koorse (Daredevil) to name but three, and detailed what happened the first time the team gathered in the writers' room.
"We start talking. And talk and talk and talk. We write the things we say on dry erase boards. [...]
We break down characters first: who they are, what they want, who they'll do it with. Organically, those emotional moments collide with plot. Note: some writers are better at plot machinations. Some are better at emotional arcs. Some do action. Some do sex. It takes all types."
So that's the sex scenes confirmed, then… although it remains to be seen if we'll get to see some sexy times on a unicorn.
The Witcher Netflix series cast: Henry Cavill is Geralt and the main cast has been announced
Henry Cavill said in August that he'd be interested in taking on the role of Geralt, but as it turns out he'd already been given the role: Netflix announced on September 4 that Cavill will portray the White Wolf in the series, after which showrunner Lauren Hissrich revealed that she'd had meetings with him about the taking the role four months earlier. "I've never forgotten the passion he brought. He IS Geralt. He always has been," she said. "I'm so thrilled to welcome Henry Cavill to the Witcher family."
Cavill might seem a little too much of a Boy Scout to play a grizzled, world-weary monster hunter, but a fan-made image he shared on Instagram looks closer to the mark than you might expect. The casting was followed a week later with this story from Deadline, which reports from sources that Warner isn't making any more Superman movies with the actor.
Perhaps more importantly, he got an enthusiastic endorsement from Doug Cockle, the voice of Geralt in CD Projekt's Witcher RPG series, who said Cavill will "do a great job."
People keep asking... so... let me go on record saying I think that #HenryCavill will do a great job as #GeraltOfRivia ! He'll make it his own of course, as well he should, and I can't wait to see what @LHissrich and the whole @netflix team create. It's gonna be #Magic 😀🦄September 5, 2018
The Witcher Netflix series has cast Ciri
The character of Ciri has finally been cast in The Witcher on Netflix. British actress Freya Allan will play her, as Netflix announced in October 2018 with a headshot.
#TheWitcher has found its Ciri: 17 year old Oxfordshire-native Freya Allan will play the pivotal Princess of Cintra! pic.twitter.com/cvkGjM4HcsOctober 10, 2018
The Witcher on Netflix has cast its Yennefer and more
Okay, you got us: The enigmatic sorceress Yennefer will be played by Anya Chalotra. Then there's Ciri. From the court at Cintra: Queen Calanthe is Jodhi May. Fledgling sorceress Fringilla is played by Mimi Ndiweni. pic.twitter.com/0njcnyKTk2October 10, 2018
While announcing the casting of Ciri, Netflix also dropped a heap more casting announcements through Twitter, the main one of which is Yennefer, who'll be played by actress Anya Chalotra. Queen Calanthe will be played by Jodhi May, and Fringilla will be played by Mimi Ndiweni. In addition, Netflix rounded out the cast with more key names. Princess Renfri, an outcast, will be played by Millie Brady, while Sabrina is Therica Wilson-Read. Adam Levy (not the Maroon 5 guy) plays Mousesack, while Björn Hlynur Haraldsson plays Queen Calanthe's husband Eist. Finally, Tissaia is played by MyAnna Buring.
Which characters will appear in The Witcher on Netflix?
So far, we know that Yennefer, Ciri, Roach, and Triss will be joining Geralt, along with Regis the vampire and Emhyr var Emreis.
Dandelion will also be making an appearance, although for the show he'll be referred to as Jaskier, his original name from the novel series.
“The characters are original, funny and constantly surprising and we can’t wait to bring them to life at Netflix," said producers Tomek Baginski and Jarek Sawko when the series was announced.
Hissrich has even taken to describing each character via a series of tweets from a few months back. Brace yourselves—there's a lot of detail here, and many hyphens for the more descriptive sections of Hissrich's tweets.
- Geralt is described as stoic, circumspect, balanced and fierce, and, in Hissrich's words: "soft-and-squishy-in-a-tiny-place-in-his-heart-that-he'll-never-reveal-until-maybe-the-end-and-even-then-it-will-just-be-a-hint."
- Yennefer, meanwhile, is fiery, proud, shrewd and contradictory, plus: "seeking-to-fill-a-family-sized-hole-in-her-heart-even-though-she-resents-it-and-swears-she's-just-fine-on-her-own-but-she-is-not-and-we-love-her-for-being-both-independent-and-vulnerable."
- Ciri is described as resilient, relentless, brazen and growing, and, according to Hissrich: "she's-going-to-change-the-world-and-what-the-hell-is-she-supposed-to-do-except-be-scared-and-be-bold-and-learn-and-adapt-and-find-a-family-who-can-walk-by-her-side-no-matter-what-and-maybe-just-maybe-teach-her-the-meaning-of-love."
- Roach is apparently "ladylike; faithful; extrasensory; steady". Hissrich adds this, too, as part of the same Twitter thread: "Really-annoyed-with-this-game-because-we-can’t-pretend-all-Roaches-are-the-same-so-she’d-prefer-some-singularity-and-individual-recognition-instead-of-all-being-lumped-together-by-blatantly-horsist-people."
- Jakier is extravagant, caddish, loose-lipped and loya. Plus: "Hides-behind-the-exterior-of-an-idiot-when-in-actuality-he-is-the-keeper-of-Geralt’s-realities-(even-if-he-exaggerates-his-own-heroics)-AND-the-truths-of-the-world-which-means-he’s-far-more-important-than-we-realize…"
- Triss Merigold is "Spunky; Idealistic; Insecure; Conflicted; Young-and-naive-and-lacking-the-confidence-of-sorceresses-which-means-she-is-ripe-for-manipulation-but-when-she-finally-transcends-the-crap-she-has-a-chance-to-be-loved-as-herself-and-not-as-'the-third-wheel-with-Yen'".
- Cahir is "Conflicted; Charismatic; Haunted; Pure of heart; Despite-being-young-he's-like-a-relic-of-a-simpler-time-when-knights-in-shining-armor-always-won-the-girl-but-now-in-the-face-of-harsh-reality-he-must-learn-what-it-means-to-actually-be-heroic-and-brave-for-others."
Phew, that was a lot of hyphens. Check out character descriptions for Regis, Vilgefortz, Ephyr, Milva, Leo Bonhart and Borch Three Jackdaws/Villentretenmerth deeper into Hissrich's Twitter thread, starting here. "This is a starting point, mostly because—how could characters ever be boiled down to five words (even with hyphens?)" Hissrich told fans on Twitter. "Also, the characters change and develop so much over the series that a summary can never be 100% accurate. Geralt starts off stoic. He doesn't end that way."
Where is The Witcher Netflix series going to be filmed?
Eastern Europe, naturally.
"WE'LL BE SHOOTING IN EASTERN EUROPE. Yes!" tweeted Hissrich. "This show couldn't exist anyplace else. Period."
While the show follows the novels more closely than the accompanying game series, we know that CD Projekt Red's cinematic director, Tomas Baginski—who directed the opening cinematics in all three Witcher games—is penciled in to direct as least one episode, so it'll be interesting to see if the show will be influenced by the style and motifs of its accompanying game series.
We'll keep you updated on the show in the coming months.