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Spoilers If You Have Not Watched The Witcher
If you haven’t started on Netflix’s The Witcher yet, well…what are you waiting for? The Witcher is based off of the book series by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski and has previously been adapted into very successful video games. If you can’t tell, the comparisons to HBO’s Game of Thrones are there – as D&D had the monstrous task of adapting George R.R. Martin’s work to real-life. The same burden was placed on Lauren Schmidt Hissrich’s shoulders, who has worked on other projects like Daredevil and The Defenders before. While The Witcher has a huge following, she felt up to the task:
“It’s so exciting to have the foundation of this material. I love adapting things, the last three things I’ve done before this have been adaptations, and to me to take source material that is so loved and has such a passionately excited fan base and then to bring it to a new medium is exciting.”
Hissrich also commented on adapting from source material and having a “conversation” with fans in regards to their theories and grievances:
“I wanted to have a dialogue with the fans. I put myself on Twitter very, very early on and announced who I was, what I was doing, and was met with all sorts of reactions, good and bad, but I stuck around. What I want people to know is that I love this franchise. It doesn’t mean I’m going to do everything that fans want me to do, or do it the way they think it should be done, but as long as they know I’m trying to honor the same thing that they love because I love it too, I tell myself we’ll be all good.”
In the show, if you’ve watched it, you know that it’s not just about Geralt of Rivia (played by Henry Cavill). Anya Chalotra plays Yennefer of Vengerberg and Freya Allan plays Princess Ciri. Hissrich wanted to bring more of them to the series, so she described having scoured “every little indication, every last sentence” with her team for tidbits of where to build these characters from.
On Yennefer, Hissrich stated:
“Everyone knows what Yennefer becomes, but we also see that she’s protecting something, there has to be something underneath that tough, cold exterior on her. I want to know how she became that way, and that’s what we answer in Season 1.”
Hissrich then spoke of Ciri:
“Same with Ciri: She’s a princess on the run — this is not a new thing for fantasy; it’s a well-worn trope, and so we wanted to figure out what she’s running from. It was about interweaving those stories. There was a lot of trial and error, a lot of asking, ‘Are audiences going to be able to follow what we’re doing with these timelines?’”
Hissrich also descrived developing Geralt, who is more “verbose” in the books. It was when Cavill came on set and started delivering lines that Hissrich believed something felt “not quite right”:
“At first, Henry showed up and said all the lines he was supposed to say, and we realized as we started editing the episode that we didn’t actually need all of this,” she says. “We all slapped our foreheads and realized at the same time that unlike the video games, unlike the books, we can count on the actual actors, who don’t have to speak all the time, who can make a certain facial expression or grunt. Geralt’s a big grunter, to communicate something without words.”
Lastly, Hissrich spoke on what made The Witcher different than the show everyone has been comparing it to [Game of Thrones]:
“The comedy is what separates ‘Witcher’ from a lot of other fantasy material like ‘Game of Thrones.’ It comes from an organic place which is that Andrzej Sapkowski is Polish, and he was telling me a lot about what it was like to grow up in Poland at a time when there country was being constantly taken over by other countries, there was a lot of political turmoil, a lot of people died, a lot of conflict, and yet you still have to get up every day and put one foot in front of the other and continue on with your life,” she says. “He said, ‘How do people deal with tragedy? They laugh.’ Bringing that aspect into a fantasy show is really fresh and had never really been done before. It was really important to me to keep in that in, and I hope the fans appreciate it.”
Have you started watching The Witcher?
A girl with too many fandoms to count.