The Witcher is a fantasy drama television series created by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich for Netflix, based on the book series of the same name by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski. Set on a fictional, medieval-inspired landmass known as the Continent, The Witcher explores the legend of Geralt of Rivia, Yennefer of Vengerberg and Princess Ciri. It stars Henry Cavill, Anya Chalotra, and Freya Allan.
The first season, consisting of eight episodes, released on Netflix on December 20, 2019. It was based on The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny, which are collections of short stories that precede the main Witcher saga. Season two, also consisting of eight episodes, released on December 17, 2021. In September 2021, Netflix renewed the series for a third season.
An animated origin story film, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, was released on August 23, 2021. A prequel miniseries, The Witcher: Blood Origin, will release in 2022.
Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher book series was initially scheduled to be adapted into a standalone Netflix film, but Kelly Luegenbiehl, Vice President of International Originals at Netflix, dissuaded the producers. She recalled asking them, “How can you take eight novels and just turn it into a film? There’s so much material here. Through a number of conversations, the producers got really excited about the idea of using the source material for a longer-running series.” In May 2017, Netflix announced the start of production on an English-language drama TV series based on the books.
In December 2017, it was reported that Lauren Schmidt Hissrich would serve as showrunner on the show. In April 2018, Schmidt Hissrich revealed that the script for the pilot episode was finished, and the first season would be eight episodes long. In 2017, it was reported that Andrzej Sapkowski would serve as a creative consultant on the show, but in January 2018, Sapkowski denied any direct involvement. However, he met with Schmidt Hissrich in April 2018 and in May 2018 she stated that Sapkowski was on the creative team of the project. In August, Andrew Laws was revealed as production designer. In December, Radio Times reported directors Alik Sakharov and Charlotte Brändström had joined the project.
Netflix announced a second season on November 13, 2019, under the working title “Mysterious Monsters”, with production set to begin in London in early 2020, for a planned release in 2021. In April 2021, Netflix’s co-chief executive officer and chief content officer Ted Sarandos confirmed that the second season is expected to premiere in Q4 2021. In July 2021, it was announced that the second season would premiere on December 17, 2021. On September 25, 2021, Netflix announced that the series had been renewed for a third season.
The first season was told in a non-linear manner, spanning different time periods. Hissrich said this was inspired by Christopher Nolan’s 2017 film Dunkirk. She pointed out that Yennefer’s story covers around 70 years and Ciri’s only about 2 weeks. Hissrich also said that Yennefer and Cirilla were given more prominence to allow the viewers to understand them better. By showing their backstories, along with Geralt’s, “we get down to the soul of the story. It’s the story of a broken family. It’s a story of three people who are on their own in the world, really orphans all living in the margins of society who are determined to not need anyone, and yet of course they do.”
Hissrich said the story for the second season will build on the foundations of the first season, becoming more focused; the characters will interact with each other more frequently. “When I talk about The Witcher, I always talk about how these three characters coming together Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer they come together as a family. It’s the most important part of the series for me,” Hissrich said. “And when you start to imagine someone’s family, you also need to understand their family of origin. For Geralt, it’s his brothers, it’s the brotherhood of the witchers. So I’m really excited to get back in and meet Vesemir, his father figure, for the first time and all of these men that he was raised with since he was seven years old.”
- Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia, a magically enhanced monster hunter known as a “witcher”. Cintran princess Ciri is his “destiny”.
- Anya Chalotra as Yennefer of Vengerberg, a quarter-elf sorceress.
- Freya Allan as Ciri, Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon, the crown princess of Cintra, granddaughter of Queen Calanthe and daughter of Pavetta, from whom she inherited the Elder Blood. She is linked to Geralt by destiny.
- Eamon Farren as Cahir Mawr Dyffryn aep Ceallach, nicknamed the “Black Knight”, a Nilfgaardian army commander who leads the invasion of Cintra and the hunt for Cirilla.
- Joey Batey as Jaskier, a travelling bard who befriends Geralt and accompanies him on his path.
- MyAnna Buring as Tissaia de Vries, mentor to Yennefer and the Rectrix of Aretuza, a training academy for female mages.
- Mimî M. Khayisa as Fringilla Vigo, a sorceress who trained alongside Yennefer. She eventually leads the Nilfgaardian invasion alongside Cahir.
- Anna Shaffer as Triss Merigold, a sorceress, the court mage of Temeria and advisor to King Foltest.
- Royce Pierreson as Istredd, an adept sorcerer and historian who befriends Yennefer at Aretuza.
- Wilson Mbomio as Dara, a refugee elf boy whom Cirilla befriends after the Slaughter of Cintra.
- Mahesh Jadu as Vilgefortz of Roggeveen, a charismatic sorcerer who rallies the northern mages to halt the invading Nilfgaardian army in Sodden.
- Tom Canton as Filavandrel (season 2; guest season 1), the last king of the Elves.
- Mecia Simson as Francesca Findabair (season 2), an elven sorceress.
- Kim Bodnia as Vesemir (season 2), the oldest living witcher and Geralt’s mentor and father figure.
- Season 1 – December 20, 2019
- Season 2 – December 17, 2021
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