The Witcher is coming to streaming platform Netflix as an eight-episode TV drama in late 2019, starring Henry Cavill as Geralt, and filming has begun. We've finally seen Cavill in costume as Geralt, and the reaction has been...mixed. The full cast for The Witcher on Netflix has also been announced, including who's playing Ciri, Triss and Yennefer. Read on for more on that.
The Netflix 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. It's had a showrunner in place for a while now—Daredevil and The Defenders writer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich—and we've learned loads about the series through Twitter, including character descriptions. We've captured all of that below.
If you were curious about the show's credibility, 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.”
Below, find what we know about The Witcher on Netflix's release date, cast info and more. You'll also see some set photos from the filming in Budapest.
The Witcher on Netflix has a release date of late 2019
It was confirmed during an earnings call that Netflix's The Witcher series will launch in the last three months of 2019, as reported by Deadline. While we initially worried it might take until 2020 to finally see the adaptation, this is welcome news, given how long we've known about The Witcher show.
Major filming has wrapped for Season 1 of The Witcher series on Netflix
It looks like all major filming for The Witcher Netflix series has been completed. According to the blog Redanian Intelligence, the crew enjoyed a wrap party at the end of April and key staff members have been trickling out of the production site in Budapest since.
This doesn't necessarily mean every bit of filming is complete. Another Redanian Intelligence report claims that the series is undergoing some reshoots after the recasting of a major character. From here, the show enters post-production, where it will hopefully be finished in time for its late 2019 release.
First look at Henry Cavill in costume as Geralt in The Witcher series on Netflix
Get your first look at Henry Cavill in The Witcher! pic.twitter.com/1O2eWS1MkPOctober 31, 2018
We've finally got our first look at Henry Cavill as Geralt, as you can see in the make-up test Netflix recently released above. We're...a little torn on Geralt's costume. With a beard he might look okay, but removed from the context of a fantasy world, he looks a little like Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII, or someone cosplaying as slightly-older Legolas. Still, it's a sign that progress on the series is moving along, at least. Interest in the series appears to be high: as of mid-November 2018, around 3.5 million people have watched the make-up test.
The Witcher Netflix set photos: teases from Lauren Hissrich's Twitter account
The Witcher on Netflix began filming in Budapest some time ago, and showrunner Lauren Hissrich has been sharing photos from the set. They don't reveal much, but they'll give you an idea of tone and costume design. Here are a few highlights below:
Night shoot kinda day. #Witcher ♥️⚔️🐺 pic.twitter.com/v1ysFii5eODecember 13, 2018
Hanging with some old friends on set today... #Witcher pic.twitter.com/p7xFRJdTJsNovember 27, 2018
Sometimes, you get tired of being behind the scenes. And then — you join the party. #Witcher ♥️⚔️🐺 pic.twitter.com/yv8BOfYkpwDecember 2, 2018
A rough cut of the show exists, now, suggesting filming is fairly far along. Good news: The Witcher on Netflix is a pretty adult show.
Just watched a cut of #Witcher with Ben, and the verdict is in: this show is not for 5-year-olds. Like, really not. #TalesOfAWorkingMomJanuary 27, 2019
The less flattering Nilfgaardian armor spotted on set
A video on the Redanian Intelligence YouTube channel that has since been removed by a copyright claim showed leaked footage of what is purportedly actors wearing Nilfgaardian armor on set. Comments on YouTube and Resetera (where you can still see some still shots if you care to) are not entirely positive about the armor's appearance. One described it as "homemade hockey gear," while another likened it to "generic Mordor," and a third said the actors wearing it look like "Power Ranger mooks."
It is worth noting that the armor as we see it here is not likely how it will appear on screen. Between post-production effects and the inherent changes wrought by the camera, what you see in the Netflix series probably isn't going to look quite like this.
The Witcher Netflix series cast: Henry Cavill is Geralt, Ciri, Yennefer and Triss revealed
Henry Cavill said 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 later 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."
#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
British actress Freya Allan will play 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. She's a relative newcomer, having previously appeared in the TV series Wanderlust.
It's been revealed that Triss will be played by actress Anna Shaffer, who has previously played Romilda Vane in the Harry Potter films.
There's an ensemble supporting cast as well: 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.
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 on Netflix characters: everything you need to know
As discussed, 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 while back. Brace yourselves—there's a lot of detail here. We've removed the dashes between words from Hissrich's original tweets below for ease of reading. Click on the above for their original context.
- 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". Roach is a horse.
- Jakier is extravagant, caddish, loose-lipped. 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".
That's not everyone—this is a big cast. 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." Budapest is at least one of the locations—that's where filming has started.
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.