From its short story roots, The Witcher is both a popular book series and video game -- and now, it will be a Netflix series. With megastar Henry Cavill attached to star as Geralt of Rivia, The Witcher has the potential to be the next Game of Thrones fantasy pop culture obsession. At Comic-Con International, those in attendance at the panel were treated to an exclusive scoop about the upcoming Netflix series.
The panel began with a trailer, and the Yvette Nicole Brown was revealed as the host of the panel. She introduced the executive producer and showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, and stars Freya Allan, Anya Chalotra and Henry Cavill.
Yvette asked Lauren about why she wanted to be a part of this world. "I absolutely fell in love with the short stories and Netflix came to me and asked me if I wanted to adapt it, and I said no.... but what's great about The Witcher is that it's more than just fantasy... it's a story about a family, and that's what I thought that I could bring to it," she said.
Henry Cavill said about Geralt, "What attracted me to Geralt ... I'm a big gamer. I played the games a lot. There was something about Geralt that really struck a cord with me, he's not your average hero... he won't treat everyone perfectly, and at the same time, deep down, he's a real hero."
"Ultimately, just a group of badasses that kill monsters," Henry said about what witchers are.
Lauren talked about how she met Henry for the first time, and he was really annoying. Henry admitted that he called her every day because he wanted the role. As she was writing, she often had Henry's voice in her head, which is why out of hundreds of actors, she still went with him.
"It was something that I wasn't going to let pass me by," said Henry about waiting for the series to be adapted and being persistent with his agent and Lauren for the role.
There are no stunts people for Henry: "It's important for me that when you look at Geralt, it's Geralt," said Henry. As far as training goes, "I spent all of my free time when I wasn't on set with a sword in my head. It was getting used to the weight of the sword, using it day in and day out. I had three swords where I lived, and four at work," Henry said.
About the scene in the clip of her burying a baby, Anya said, "I remember saying this is the best day ever because I couldn't believe where I was... and this scene is such a huge moment in Yennefer's journey, and everything about that day was epic."
Freya Allan's role as Ciri is her first major role. "I've always wanted to be in some fantasy epic... it's weird to think this time last year I was studying for my exams, and now I'm in a lead part."
"I've learned so much just absorbing constantly," she said of working with her fellow actors. On describing her journey, "she's had a very sheltered upbringing, she's been very privileged and as a result, she's naive by what the real world is.... she's never experienced a different perspective on life, and that's a huge part of her journey this season is putting herself in other people's shoes," Freya said.
In the books you read all the characters through Geralt's lens, so Lauren wanted to think about the characters before they meet Geralt, so they're not just reflected through Geralt and the male perspective. "We got to bring those to life," Lauren said about being able to flesh out the hints of backstories that were in the books.
Ciri meets a lot of people along her journey, and she is still able to see the goodness in them, which is a big part of her journey, said Freya.
About his horse, Henry said "Geralt isn't Geralt without Roach. We meet Roach with Geralt at the beginning of the story, and as a lot of you know, Roach is more than just a horse. Roach is actually an essence of Geralt... no, more like an anchor to Geralt's honest and true self. It's a name and character he gives to every horse he's had... he's gone through a few Roachs already, and the Roach that he's on, she's everything to him. She's the one source of humanity he has left... kind of like a therapy horse."
"In truth, deep deep down, there's this man who has a belief in who a man can be. He makes moral decisions along the way and all of them get him in trouble," said Henry about Geralt's morality.
Anya didn't know about the Witcher novels before auditioning. "I had three auditions, and loved every single one of them and definitely wanted the job more every single time I auditioned. After I did get the role, I immersed myself in the books and in the games," she said. For her transformation, she said, "Yennefer is a gift for any actor... I wish I had more time to work on the movement of that."
The Witcher stars Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia, Anya Chalotra as Yennefer of Vengerberg, Freya Allan as Ciri and Joey Batey as Jaskier. The series will be available to stream this fall.