3:00 pm EDT, July 22, 2019

SDCC: ‘The Witcher’ is here to be your next big fantasy obsession

The Witcher panel and press room got us incredibly hyped! Whether you’re new to the series or a longtime fan, we’re here to give you all the details for the upcoming fantasy epic!

If you’ve been on the lookout for your next fantasy hyperfixation, look no further: The Witcher is here to take over all your thoughts and feelings and, as all hyperfixations go, make you nearly unbearable to your non-Witcher watching friends.

The fantasy epic is coming to Netflix later this year (no release date as of yet), and will be based on The Witcher series of books by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski rather than the popular series of video games familiar to most U.S. audiences. It will also feature Henry Cavill in the lead role of the Witcher Geralt of Rivia, Anya Chalotra as badass sorceress Yennefer and newcomer Freya Allan as Ciri.

After teasing us with official photos and a gorgeous poster, The Witcher dropped an amazing teaser trailer during their Hall H panel at SDCC, which absolutely blew the room away. Watch it below and revel in all the jaw-dropping swordplay, powerful women and Henry Cavill’s glistening biceps.

Henry Cavill, who plays Geralt, is a huge fan of the series and campaigned heavily to get the lead role, describing himself as annoying both his agent and showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich for months in order to read for the role. And while Hissrich initially brushed him off, after 206 other auditions, she came back to Cavill — who was obviously thrilled to read for and then get the role.

In fact, one of the most obvious things during the Hall H panel is just how geeked out and enthusiastic Henry Cavill is to play Geralt. Not only could he not stop smiling every time he spoke about Geralt, his dedication to role came through in his actual performance. Cavill performed all his own stunts because it was important to him that every time fans saw Geralt doing something, it was Henry Cavill and not another performer.

Cavill spoke about spending all his free time on set with a sword in his hand — getting used to the weight of the sword and how it felt. He had three swords where he lived and four swords where he worked.

But the show isn’t all about how badass Geralt is, even if the books and the videogames are. Showrunner Lauren Hissrich worked hard to bring Yennefer and Ciri to the forefront of the story and bring a different perspective to the characters’ individual stories and the story of The Witcher as a whole.

I know that there are a wide variety of people out there coming to The Witcher — some who have never stepped foot in the world of the games or books, and some who live, breathe, sleep and eat the world of The Witcher.

With that in mind, I’ve separated this write-up into two sections — a section for those new to The Continent and Witchers, and those Witcher veterans who want to know how much of their favorite parts might’ve made it into the show.

No matter how much you know coming into Netflix’s The Witcher, I know all of us will be coming out passionate fans of this fantasy epic!

A primer for ‘Witcher’ newbies

The Witcher poster

  • What are Witchers? The Witcher takes place on ‘The Continent,’ which have a ton of monsters running around, terrorizing people. Enter the class of people known as ‘The Witchers.’ Here’s the description from Henry Cavill himself, who gave one of the best detailed summaries of Witchers that I’ve seen:

    Witchers start as a young boy who’s been taken from the streets or left to fend for himself and ultimately taken in by this group called Witchers. They are trained to levels of almost inhuman agility and endurance. From there, they’re subjected to various alchemical trials and they become mutants. Most of these children do not survive — let’s say, one in 10 would survive. After that, they’re trained in the art of monster hunting and they travel the world, hunting monsters for coin. That is their one sole purpose and they’re very good at it.

  • The TL;DR version? “Ultimately a group of badasses who kill monsters.”

  • Who is Geralt? Geralt, for those who don’t know, is a Witcher — which means he’s a badass monster hunter. But who is he as a person? In the words of Henry Cavill:

    “He’s not your average hero. He has a hard exterior — tough, real-world type person who won’t treat everyone perfectly. At the same time, deep down, he’s a real hero right at the bottom of it. He keeps that real secret and real private.”

    The mythology of the Witchers is that they’re emotionless — something which serves them well as professional monster hunters. With Geralt, however, Henry Cavill says this is clearly a lie — and you’ll see that when you meet him. Geralt’s exterior is hard and tough, because that’s what he believes the world is. But deep down, he has a belief in what the world could be — and it’s that softer belief which often gets him into tricky situations.

  • Who is Yennefer and what is her journey? When asked about badass sorceress Yennefer in the panel, Anya Chalotra described her a woman who’s had a hard life and is on a journey of self-discovery. Anya spoke about how great it is that The Witcher series looks at not only her powers but her vulnerabilities, and how together that makes her the ultimate survivor. Her overall goal is to find true connection and an unconditional love which she’s never experienced. She presents such a harsh exterior, and one thing she needs to do is tap into the vulnerability that makes her the most powerful mages out there. In the course of the story, she has both a physical and emotional transformation, one which moderator Yvette Nicole Brown (who did a fantastic job) described as turning her into an absolute beast.
  • Who is Ciri and what is her journey? Freya Allen describes Ciri as having a very sheltered and privileged upbringing, which has made her very naive of what the real world is. She’s never experienced a different perspective on life, so experiencing that is a huge part of her journey this season. And while it’s clear from the start that she has this might and drive embedded in her, she has to find a new kind of strength to overcome the horrific things she sees. It’s a journey of development and discovery and she’s constantly in flux.

In-depth details for ‘Witcher’ fans

Yennefer in the Witcher

  • What’s the best way for fans to approach this property? Hissrich spoke not only of her love for the books but also for the game. The Witcher show will be an adaptation of the books — just in the same way the games are an adaptation of the books. What the show is doing is providing a new, fun, different version of storytelling, which gives fans a new way of looking at the story without taking away other ways the story has been done before.
  • What was the adaptation process? Lauren Hissrich was a fan of all the books, which meant that the hardest challenge in the adaptation process was deciding where to start. Most people who pitched on The Witcher chose to bypass the short stories and head straight into the saga — an easy place from which to begin as its already serialized storytelling. However, Hissrich felt like skipping the short stories would leave out the best and juiciest bits of worldbuilding and the foundation and environment from which these characters grow, so she knew she needed to include the short stories. Then it was about how to tell the stories that she wanted to tell with Yennefer and Ciri at the forefront along with Geralt, but to start with The Last Wish, which takes place before Ciri is born.
  • What has been changed the most from book to show? The thing that was incredibly important to Hissrich was carving out a space for Yennefer and Ciri in the story and bringing them to the forefront. She wanted to provide them with backstories so they weren’t introduced to the world only through Geralt or his perspective — they were seen through their own particular lenses. While the books introduced both characters from the perspective of Geralt, for the show, she didn’t want to know how Geralt — or any other character — saw Yennefer or Ciri, but how Yennefer and Ciri saw themselves. There are all sorts of little clues and hints about the histories of Ciri and Yennefer in the books that have been pushed to the forefront in The Witcher TV series.
  • How much of the book’s Polish origins made it into the show? It was incredibly important to have Poland be part of the show. Not only did The Witcher spend some of its time shooting in Poland, but showrunner Lauren Hissrich spent time in Poland, meeting local people in bars and restaurants. It was important to Hissrich to get a Polish spirit into the show and she spent time with Polish executive producer Tomasz Baginski to ask how the Polish approached tragedy, war, family, sex and love.
  • What will we see from the books? Obviously a lot of Geralt and very strong women, but also a ton of monsters and a ton of magic. Hissrich described The Witcher series both as a magical horror show and as a gritty fantasy, but one that has a surprising dry wit to it. Likewise, Hissrich described the books themselves as being incredibly political — dealing with racism, xenophobia and sexism — and how she didn’t have to inject her own politics or real-world politics into the show as they were already present in the novels.

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