Netflix is getting an eight-episode English language adaptation of The Witcher Saga—the Polish novel series that CD Projekt Red's hugely successful fantasy RPG series is based on. Running the show is Marvel's Daredevil and The Defenders writer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, who is treating fans to remarkably candid behind-the-scenes peeks into the highs and lows of production.
And for those wondering, despite conflicting reports that he's denied any involvement, the Saga's original author, Andrzej Sapkowski, is on board as the show's 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 it's early days for the show, there is actually a lot of info out there already about what's in the works. 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.
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.
There is some good news, though—the pilot episode has been written, and Hissrich herself has even teased us with a tweet pic of the cover page.
#TheWitcher pilot is out for notes, and I’m out for the weekend to spend some time with my kids. See you bright and early on Monday! pic.twitter.com/qjAr5reRgBFebruary 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 Netflix series will feature eight episodes.
"I know, I know, it may not seem like enough for you, but creatively, it's the right call," Hissrich tweeted last month. "The episodes can be tight, action-packed, rich in character and story, without lagging in the middle of the season. Sounds good to me, sound good to you?"
Happy Friday! So much information coming out of the @netflix event in Rome. I'm told by my friends and colleagues that the level of excitement and anticipation for #Witcher was crazy! Let's sort through it...April 20, 2018
What is the plot of The Witcher Netflix series?
If you head on over to The Witcher on Netflix right now, there's already a placeholder description 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."
While Hissrich has confirmed that she has already submitted the complete pilot script back in February 2018, she has steadfastly refused to satisfy fan curiosity on what the plot may entail.
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."
Over the last few days, Hissrich has introduced us to other writers (Declan de Barra (The Originals), Jenny Klein (Jessica Jones) and Sneha Koorse (Daredevil) to name but three) joining the crew, 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.
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 recent tweets. 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."
Has anyone been cast in The Witcher Netflix series yet?
No! As yet there's been no confirmed castings for the series, which means anything you've read to date is merely speculation or wishful thinking, even if they do provide ripe material for terrible photoshopping.
That said, this hasn't stopped famous fans offering their services. In response to a tweet in which Hissrich described Vesemir, Star Wars veteran Mark Hamill said: "I have no idea what this is or what it’s about but agree it could/should be played by me."
I have no idea what this is or what it's about but agree it could/should be played by me. 👍March 6, 2018
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.