People have been so very, very worried about Netflix’s upcoming fantasy drama The Witcher. Book readers, gamers, everyone started freaking out the moment Henry Cavill was cast as Geralt of Rivia, but I was never bothered by this choice, in large part because I love the fact that Cavill is such a huge fan of the books and games.
I also think he pulls off the look extremely well, especially in the new trailer (below) which, by the way, is bloody amazing. Of course, people have been freaking out about all the other casting choices, too, but I think they’ve chosen well, and the trailer once again confirms that for me. It also confirms that this is a big budget show with excellent special effects, costume design and so forth—and that once again, all this panic over the show is much ado about nothing.
I mean, just watch this trailer and tell me you’re not excited:
I was nervous when this show was first announced, but I have to say this goes a very long way toward assuaging any lingering fears I had. (Mostly I wasn’t sure a live-action adaptation could possibly be as good as the video games, and I thought perhaps an animated TV series a la Castlevania might be a good alternative. Now I’m glad we’re getting this instead).
But also, a recent interview with The Witcher showrunner Lauren Hissrich has given me even more confidence in the direction this show is taking in telling the story of Geralt and Ciri (Freya Allen) and Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) and Triss (Anna Shaffer) and all the rest. Elves and dwarves and men, wild magic and terrifying monsters, scheming lords and sorceresses.
For instance, Hissrich’s focus isn’t first and foremost on creating some big fantasy epic to rival Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. Her focus is on the characters and their relationships with one another:
“When Netflix reached out I read the short stories again and started thinking about what could I bring to this. These three characters — Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri — really rose to the surface. If you take all the other fantasy elements away, you take the magic and story and violence and sex away, you still have three characters who are this broken disjointed family who really need each other even though they don’t want to admit it. And that was one of the most appealing things to me.”
She’s also determined to paint complex characters and not crutch on an outright villain, instead hoping that we can empathize with every character, and that our opinions about different characters will change for better or worse as the story progresses:
“There isn’t really a villain. One of the things we’re enjoying exploring is all the shades of grey in the books. The characters you’re rooting for in the beginning may not be the characters you’re rooting for in the end. And characters you hate and seem absolutely evil are motivated by something that’s really relatable and human and emotional. I found writing it and then watching it afterward that your allegiance switches a lot. You constantly try to put yourself in the shoes of characters and think what would you do [in a situation]. I think you’ll end up having a lot of empathy for characters you didn’t expect to.”
So between thoughtful answers like this one, the excellent first trailer and Cavill and the rest of the cast, I’m pretty thrilled with where this is going, and I absolutely cannot wait to watch and write about this show when it comes out sometime later this year. An actual release date has not been announced yet, but I suspect it will be toward the end of 2019.
I’m not sure if this will be as good as Game Of Thrones or have as wide an appeal, but it sure looks everything I hoped it would be, and I’m thrilled we live in an age where big budget fantasy shows like this are even possible. Game Of Thrones fans should certainly keep a close eye on this one. Also Henry Cavill fans—the actor has gotten positively ripped for this role, and he played Superman!
P.S. If they ever do cast Nilfgaardian Emperor Emhyr var Emreis, please let it be Charles Dance. Dance—who played Tywin Lannister on Game of Thrones—voiced the emperor in The Witcher 3, and if we could get just one actor from the games to reprise their role in the TV series, Dance is the one I’d choose. What a marvelous actor. All the Lannisters were played by such great actors.