The Witcher Netflix Series Casts Ciri, Yennefer, and More!
Freya Allan and Anya Chalotra have joined the series as its two leading ladies alongside star Henry Cavill.
By Chris Morse
Today brought us some very big news on the development of the upcoming The Witcher Netflix series, a series of novels by Andrzej Sapkowski that also spawned a critically-acclaimed video game trilogy from CD Projekt Red. The project has been moving along steadily since the casting of Henry Cavill in the starring role of Geralt of Rivia and we now have brand-new casting details as the series moves closer and closer to the start of production with writing complete on its debut season.
Aside from Geralt, the two most important characters in the fold are Ciri and Yennefer, who will be played by Freya Allan (The War of the Worlds, Into the Badlands) and Anya Chalotra (The ABC Murders, Wanderlust) respectively. Despite the earlier controversy spawned by a leaked casting ad, the young Ciri actress will look the part of the character as told by the source material but we have no doubt that the casting team did their diligence in choosing the right young star for the job.
Some additional casting has also been announced. The series will also star Jodhi May (Game of Thrones, Genius) as Queen Calanthe, Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson (Fortitude) as her Calanthe's husband, the knight Eist, Adam Levy (Knightfall, Snatch) as the druid Mousesack, MyAnna Buring as Tissaia, Mimi Ndiweni and Therica Wilson-Read as novice sorcerers, and Millie Brady as Princess Renfri.
I couldn't be more thrilled about our ever-growing #Witcher family. Anya, Freya, and the rest of this jaw-dropping cast will slay monsters, your hearts, and everything else we put in front of them. https://t.co/gHkhf1mQlw— Lauren S. Hissrich (@LHissrich) October 10, 2018
I've said this from the beginning, and have never wavered. I traveled through Poland last spring to soak in the spirit, soul, and sounds of the country, so that I could make sure they're not just represented, but also given their justice and due in the show. It's important to us. https://t.co/LdteWkC4Bn— Lauren S. Hissrich (@LHissrich) October 10, 2018
In addition to the above casting announcements, The Hollywood Reporter also had the opportunity to discuss the show and casting with showrunner, writer, and executive producer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, who provided fans with a number of interesting insights into the process of building the show and finding the right stars to play each character. According to Hissrich, a total of about 50 roles have been cast with some being a much more exhaustive search than others.
"We ended up seeing over 200 young women from all over Europe and really saw a great group of girls," she explained, commenting on the casting of Ciri. "But then when we met Freya, she read for another role. I actually went to London to meet with her in person and we knew it right away." Hissrich also specifically responded to the aforementioned fan backlash with a strong reassurance about the importance of the cultural context of the world and series remaining intact.
It boils down to a couple things. One, this property has such a passionate fan base. I think any leak at all was going to attract this type of attention, and with any attention comes backlash to that attention. I do think that whatever information is trickling out there, there will be people responding positively to it and people responding negatively to it. I think that’s just part of making a television show, and especially a show this big. In terms of why people responded so strongly, I think the fans really have pictures of these characters in their minds and I don’t blame them for that. I get it. When I read my favorite books I certainly imagine characters a certain way. There’s obviously a couple lines of description of Ciri in the books and people become very enamored with their own vision of it. I think coming in as a writer and saying my vision might look different than yours is scary for fans, but truthfully I don’t think it has to be. One of the things I feel most strongly about is people being afraid that we’re going to strip out the cultural context of The Witcher, to remove its Slavic roots, the very thing people in Poland are proud of. That couldn’t be further from the truth. What I’ve always wanted to do is take these Slavic stories and give them a global audience.
"I wanted people to understand that I’m not trying to make this property my own or put my stamp on it, or make an American or female vision of it, or any specific vision of it," Hissrich continued, referring to what drove her to this project to begin with. "I just wanted people to know that I really respected the material. Truthfully, the controversy about Ciri, my own politics or the fact that I’m a woman, to me, just interacting with the fans has helped an enormous amount, because they see I’m on their side."
The showrunner also dove into the importance of Geralt's surrounding characters and just how much of a presence they hold on their own as our main character navigates this world of monsters and sorcery. Read below for her take on why she wants to get the complete roster just right for this series.
Yeah, what’s interesting is the first couple books are told from Geralt’s perspective and when I was reading them I saw that there are all these other characters who are very strong and powerful; not just the women, by the way. They can be pulled to the forefront so it doesn’t always feel like just Geralt’s journey, because the journey of one man is never going to be very interesting. It’s only going to be as interesting as the people he interacts with. That’s why these characters are rising in prominence in the series.
Finally, Hissrich revealed that while production has not yet started, they are in prep and it's coming up soon, which is very exciting for fans of the novels and video games alike. Have a look at the newly announced stars of the series in the photo below.
In The Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, a solitary monster hunter, struggles to find his place in a world where people often prove more wicked than beasts. But when destiny hurtles him toward a powerful sorceress, and a young princess with a dangerous secret, the three must learn to navigate the increasingly volatile Continent together.
Henry Cavill will play the starring role of Geralt of Rivia while the cast also includes Jodhi May (Game of Thrones, Genius) as Queen Calanthe, Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson (Fortitude) as her Calanthe's husband, the knight Eist, Adam Levy (Knightfall, Snatch) as the druid Mousesack, MyAnna Buring as Tissaia, Mimi Ndiweni and Therica Wilson-Read as novice sorcerers, and Millie Brady as Princess Renfri.
With production on its first season set to begin soon, The Witcher will make its premiere on Netflix sometime in 2019. We'll have more updates here on Dead Entertainment when filming is underway.