Critics and viewers can’t get enough of Netflix’s new series The Witcher—and for good reason. With its deep lore, gripping fantasy setting, and complex characters, The Witcher is the perfect mix of high-budget fantasy fun and the first show to fill the hole left by the Game of Thrones finale. Toss a coin to your Witcher: Here are 50 facts about the hit series.
After playing Superman, Henry Cavill is no stranger to intense workout regimes and hardcore diets, but he went even further for The Witcher. To get Geralt's ultra-ripped physique, Cavill went on an extreme diet that included dehydrating himself for multiple days. He said in an interview, “you get to the point on the last day where you can smell water nearby.” Was there really no other way? Really?
Joey Batey, who plays the comic sidekick Jaskier, is a talented lute player, and the casting director was pleasantly surprised when Batey came to the audition in costume with a lute and performed a song for her. He definitely deserved that win.
Remember that Ed Sheeran cameo in Game of Thrones? Yeah… that happened. Thankfully, Sapkowski assured fans during Comic Con he wouldn’t let that kind of thing happen on his show. He said, “I believe that my job as a creative consultant for this series is to make sure that at NO point in the show [will] Ed Sheeran sing.” No hard feelings, Sheeran.
No one loves a good crossover event quite like sci-fi and fantasy nerds, so you can imaging how excited people got when Mark Hamill hinted that he might join The Witcher. Hamill recently responded to a fan’s Tweet saying that Hamill should play the character Vesemir, a fellow Witcher who appears in other adaptations. Hamill jokingly said he was down to do it, receiving much support. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!
When Sapkowski, the author of the original Witcher books, sold the video game rights of his series to Cd Projekt, he figured that the games would be a total flop. In a decision that he would regret, Sapkowski let the rights go for just $9,500. Of course, when the three games turned into major hits, Sapkowski felt pretty glum. He asked for more money from the company. CD Projekt recently decided to do this to keep the relationship good.
Over 200 actors auditioned to play Geralt of Rivia, the lead role in the series, but in the end only one man could be chosen: Superman himself, Henry Cavill. As a massive fan of the books and video games, Cavill really fought for the role. Months before the script was even written, he pestered his agents to get him a meeting with Netflix.
The Witcher got its start as a series of Polish novels by author Andrzej Sapkowski. Excerpts were published in the magazine Fantastyka starting in the 80s, with the very first story winning an award from the magazine.
Remember when that coffee cup made it into Game of Thrones? A similar incident almost happened with The Witcher. While editing, one VFX person noticed some car headlights in a shot. Thankfully, they were able to remove the offensive modern detail long before the show went to air.
Though Henry Cavill looks more like a super-jock than a nerd, the actor is a huge gamer and a big fan of The Witcher games. He was immediately interested in playing Geralt, and even had suggestions to make about the series. If Cavill was in charge, he'd want to show off more of Geralt’s magic powers during filming. Maybe in season 2.
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The Netflix adaptation may be the most popular, but it’s not the fist time The Witcher has been adapted for the silver screen. A film adaptation called The Hexer also exists, though critics weren't impressed by what it had to offer. The Hexer TV series went to air in 2002 and thankfully, did a little better than the disappointing movie.
Yennefer has a troubled past, including a jaw disability and hunchback. When playing past-Yennefer, Chalotra had to wear a painful mouthguard, which she said, “was difficult because I would get ulcers and I would have to speak using very hard material…” She goes on to say that though she was uncomfortable, the pain was worth it. The mouthguard helped her nail the look and feel of the role.
In the original scripts, Geralt had way more dialogue than he does in the final cut. The showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich decided to limit his lines for an unexpected reason: Cavill's expressions, grunts, and body language were so expressive that she didn't need him to say things explicitly. He could often imply them without a single word.
In an AMA, director Marc Jobst said filming the battle of Sodden Hill was very difficult because of the weather. He said, “There was unseasonal torrential rain most of the time that meant the cast and crew were slopping around in five inches of mud most of the time.” He goes on to say there were things he simply couldn’t shoot because of the awful conditions.
Netflix’s The Witcher is run by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, a talented producer and screenwriter behind other popular shows like The West Wing, Parenthood, Daredevil, and The Defenders.
Geralt's tendency to get into trouble seems to have rubbed off on Henry Cavill. While shooting the show, Cavill was almost blinded by the contacts he wears to play Geralt. He was warned not to wear them longer than three hours at a time as they could do damage to his eyes, but he stubbornly continued to do so. On top of that, while filming in the Canary Islands, volcanic rock got behind the contacts, which scratched his eyes. It got the point where Cavill could hardly open his eyes.
Director Marc Jobst recently surprised fans when he revealed his unconventional approach to The Witcher. While other fantasy directors like Peter Jackson are often super-nerds about their favorite books, Jobst says he put very little research into The Witcher’s lore before directing it. He explained, “We were clear that we wanted the show to work for all fantasy fans - not just Witcher fans.” Everyone has their methods!
Originally, Netflix wanted to adapt The Witcher into a movie. Thankfully, Kelly Luegenbiehl, the VP of International Originals at Netflix talked them out of it with one simple question. She asked, “How can you take eight novels and just turn it into a film?”
Witchers are said to follow a set of rules called The Witcher’s Code. However, in the novels, it’s revealed that these rules don’t exist – they’re just an excuse to get out of situations a Witcher doesn’t want to deal with. Sneaky!
There was one character that The Witcher just couldn't get right. After seeing hundreds of girls for the important role of Ciri, the producers made a shocking decision. They backtracked on an actress that they originally slotted for a much smaller part. 17-year-old Freya Allen was originally supposed to play Marilka, the alderman's daughter. Going from Marilka to Princess Ciri? That's a major upgrade.
The Witcher 3 has one of the largest maps of any open world video game. It comes in at 218km2, nearly double the size of Grand Theft Auto V.
The Netflix series isn’t the first time actress MyAnna Buring, has had a hand in a Witcher property. She also performed the voice of Anna Hennrietta in The Witcher 3!
Henry Cavill and Anya Chalotra, who plays Yennefer, insisted on performing all their own stunts in The Witcher. Cavill spent all his time when he wasn't shooting with a sword in his hand, focusing on getting used to the weight of the weapon. In the end, his approach paid off, with experienced stuntmen and Witcher viewers praising his sword dancing skills.
Hissrich was inspired to tell the story of The Witcher in a non-linear way thanks to a surprising influence. The acclaimed war movie Dunkirk, which jumps around in time and location frequently, served as the basis for The Witcher's fragmented narrative.
Many of the cast members read Sapkowski’s novels and short stories before filming, but Anya Chalotra (Yennefer) stopped once filming began so she could focus on Yennefer’s backstory. She said, “I’d read the script again and again, and every time I’d be more familiar with Yennefer’s thoughts and responses.”
Before the series’ premiere, rumors started floating around claiming that Witcher fans were in for a suprise. Apparently, a Witcher animated series may be on its way. These rumors are further fueled by executive producer Tomasz Bagiński who said, "We are planning a few more interesting surprises between seasons…” Here’s hoping!
Ciri is a fan favorite in The Witcher franchise, but her name has been causing some issues for Apple users. Apparently, when her name is said in the show, it can activate iPhone users’ Siri helpers.
When Millie Brady booked the role of Princess Renfri, she thought she had landed the next big part in her burgeoning career, but sadly she was mistaken. After shooting her scenes, the showrunners decided to make major changes to the storyline and to her character's appearance. In the end they recast Brady with Emma Appleton.
Fans will be happy to know that the crew is currently working on the show's second season, but sadly it won’t come out until 2021. Time to fill all our spare time with the books!
To capture the fantastical setting of The Continent, The Witcher was filmed in Eastern and Central Europe, taking note from other popular fantasy series’ like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.
The Witcher is the third most in-demand streaming series, with Stranger Things and The Mandalorian coming in at a close second and third.
According to the official The Witcher podcast, one of the show's producers Tomas Bagiński wanted to get the show made so badly that he went all-in on an extreme gesture. He wrote a passionate 25-page letter to Sapkowski, telling him how and why he wanted to make the show. Hopefully, Sapkowski asked for a little more than a lump sum this time.
Schmidt Hissrich frequently engages with her critics and fans online. She even put a long post on subreddit r/thewitcher where she explains why they made some big changes to the show that some fans weren’t happy with. It’s certainly a more direct way to deal with things than most!
The Battle of Sodden was shot at Ogrodzieniec Castle in Podzamcze, a 14th century castle that, in the 1600s, was seized, ransacked, and partially burned down. Doesn’t get much more authentic than that.
The Hexer was the first attempt at a film adaptation of The Witcher series and it, uh, didn't do very well. With an impressive 3.6/10 rating on IMDB, few people expected the new Netflix show to pay homage to the failed movie version from yonder year, but the Netflix team had a touching surprise in store. They asked the Polish actor Michal Zebrowski, who played Geralt in the original movie, to perform the voiceover work for Geralt in the Polish translation of the series. D'aw.
Many fans were puzzled by the ugly armor that the Nilfgaardian army sports. Hissrich, being a lady of the people, explained that, “[The armour had to] look like they picked it up, they did it quickly […] It’s not meant to have the same look as standard armour.” The Nilfgaardian army is not as wealthy as the Cintran army, which explains its “ugliness”.
Cavill put a lot of thought into Geralt’s voice, giving him a whispery, raspy voice, and choosing to use an accent that would set him apart from the majority British cast members. Cavill said to Polygon, ”The voice for me really helped with the directness of it.”
Chalotra, a completely unknown actress before The Witcher, was cast as Yennefer before lead star Cavill, a fairly unheard-of practice. Casting director Sophie Holland originally met Chalotra while she was auditioning for another project, and immediately knew she wanted to work with her in the future. The Witcher provided a perfect opportunity.
One of the most interesting things to come out of The Witcher 3 is the bathtub meme, which shows Geralt relaxing in a tub shirtless. Hissrich decided to put this into the first season of the show as a wink to fans of the games, even though it doesn’t follow the first book.
Schmidt Hissrich said in an interview with SFX Magazine she wants the show to run for seven more seasons. This is looking increasingly possible as hype for the show grows.
The Witcher features an epic soundtrack helmed by composer Sonya Belousov. She also scored Netflix’s The Mist and The Romanoffs, and is an award-winning pianist. Clearly, the soundtrack is in good hands. Now where's her Grammy for "Toss a Coin to your Witcher"?
Some writers are known to despise adaptations of their books (I’m looking at you, Stephen King and The Shining). But Sapkowski has only positive things to say about The Witcher, claiming he is more than happy with Cavill’s appearance. Sapkowski even paid Cavill a huge compliment by likening him to Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings.
Some fans can’t seem to grasp the timelines of the series, so Netflix released an official timeline graphic explaining what happens when in the show. For those who like a more linear experience, this document is a lifesaver.
The Elder Speech is spoken by magic users in The Witcher, and learning it isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility. Sapkowski made the language out of a mash-up of other languages, including Welsh, German, English, Latin, and Irish. Sounds super easy to learn, guys.
Tomek Baginski directed the cinematics for all The Witcher games, and also has his hands in the series as an executive producer. His production company makes the show, and he was also the one who originally pitched the show as a film to Netflix.
To achieve the fight scenes, stunt coordinators and choreographers had a special trick up their sleeves: ropework, and lots of it. For those who don't know, "ropework" refers to tying actors to ropes and “helping” them flip around in the air by pulling said ropes. The Striga fight employed heavy ropework to make the monster leap, and to achieve the scene where it and Geralt fall through the floor.
Episode four starts with Geralt arriving at the inn covered in the blood and guts of a Selkie Maw. Originally, this whole fight was supposed to appear in the show, with concept art depicting it existing, but had to be cut due to budgetary restraints. Boo.
The popular Netflix series helped create a significant boost in players to The Witcher 3 video game. 2015’s The Witcher 3 saw a 93% jump in players on Steam during premiere week. Twitch also saw a huge jump in The Witcher 3 streams, with 31,000 viewers streaming the game the same week.
The Witcher books have also seen a big rise in readership since the Netflix show. Between December 29th and January 4th of 2020, The Last Witch was the number one most sold book on Amazon, with Blood of Elves reaching the number three spot and Sword of Destiny rising to 12.
When Henry Cavill finally managed to get a meeting with The Witcher showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, he was in for a rude awakening. Despite Cavill's excitement, she just didn't think he was the right fit for the role. After gently letting him down, Schmidt Hissrich saw over 200 other actors but, in her words, she kept hearing Cavill's voice in her head. In the end, she gave him the part.
In the second episode of the series, an original song called "Toss a Coin to Your Witcher" is played by the comic sidekick Jaskier (portrayed by Joey Batey). The song immediately went viral across the internet, inspiring people to mod it into The Witcher games and cover it in different genres including death metal. But few viewers realize that the song holds a secretly dark meaning. According to Schmidt Hissrich, the "horrific" song is really about deceiving people's memories through catchy, inaccurate retellings. Um, is "Toss a Coin to Your Witcher" about fake news?
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