February was a big month for news on Netflix’s newest hit, The Witcher, with many new cast members joining the ranks of Henry Cavill, Anya Chalotra and the rest of the ensemble introduced in season one. Besides these important castings (including Game of Thrones veteran Kristofer Hivju, now officially confirmed), Netflix has now begun filming the second season. What’s more, Redanian Intelligence was able to uncover a series of leaks from the set in England, one of which reveals the fate of one of The Witcher’s main characters: Yennefer of Vengerberg. For all that and more, join us in our recap of February’s Witcher-related news.=
- The Witcher season two enters production in the UK
- Redanian Intelligence and Netflix reveal new cast members
- Director lineup and returning cast members revealed by Netflix
- Season two to include a beloved monster from the games
- Set Report: Yennefer’s fate revealed (SPOILER!)
- Set Report: More pictures from the Elven war camp with Francesca and Filavandrel
- Set Report: Nilfgaardian extras don old armor in early season two scenes
- Henry Cavill reunites with Roach ahead of filming
The Witcher Season two enters production in the UK
Though filming was originally set to begin on February 17, Netflix secretly entered production a few days ahead of schedule. After months of preparation in their home base at Arborfield Studios, The Witcher crew took to a forest location in the Surrey Hills to film a scene involving Fringilla and Yennefer.
A report by Get Surrey revealed that Netflix would be filming in that location throughout the show’s first and second week of filming, under the production title “Mysterious Monsters” or “MM”. The production has been using the initials TPL for signage.
What scenes were filmed in the forests of Surrey? Thankfully, a series of leaks has revealed quite a bit on that matter. The scene in question involves an army of elves (this time, not on a shelf) and one of season two’s most important new characters. If you don’t mind spoilers, make sure to take a look at the set report and behind-the-scenes images below.
Redanian Intelligence and Netflix reveal new cast members
The Continent just got a little bigger. Here's the new cast of #TheWitcher Season 2:
Yasen Atour as Coen
Agnes Bjorn as Vereena
Paul Bullion as Lambert
Kristofer Hivju as Nivellen
Thue Ersted Rasmussen as Eskel
Aisha Fabienne Ross as Lydia
Mecia Simson as Francesca
— Netflix Geeked (@NetflixGeeked) February 21, 2020
With filming having commenced in the UK, Netflix and Redanian Intelligence revealed most of the important new cast members joining Henry Cavill (Geralt), Anya Chalotra (Yennefer) and Freya Allan (Ciri) in season two.
As first reported by Redanian Intelligence, Netflix has finally confirmed the casting of Game of Thrones alum Kristofer Hivju. Known for the role of Tormund Giantsbane in the HBO fantasy series, Hivju will be assuming the guest role of Nivellen in the first episode of season two. This will serve as an adaptation of the classic Witcher short story A Grain of Truth, which is itself a parody of The Beauty And The Beast. Nivellen is a man cursed with the head of a bear, who falls in love with a mysterious beauty. Agnes Born will be playing the violent Vereena.
Geralt (Henry Cavill) and Ciri (Freya Allan) will be sharing scenes with Hivju in Nivellen’s mansion in the first episode of season two, while on the road to Kaer Morhen.
Leading the new witcher characters is Killing Eve’s Kim Bodnia, who has been cast as Vesemir. Netflix describes Vesemir as follows: “A charming relic of the witcher Golden Age. He is the oldest and most experienced witcher in our series, as well as a father figure to Geralt. As one of the survivors of The Massacre at Kaer Morhen, a haunting slaughter that nearly exterminated the Witchers, he is fiercely protective of the remaining few, who he sees as an endangered community who can find glory on ‘the Path’ slaying monsters.”
Before deciding on Bodnia, Netflix reportedly offered the role to several fan favorites including Mark Hamill, Mads Mikkelsen and Michael Keaton. Earlier this year, Netflix announced that an animated film centered on Vesemir is also in the works, titled The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf. It is possible that Bodnia will lend his voice to a younger Vesemir in that film as well.
Netflix has also confirmed the castings of three witchers, two of whom were revealed earlier by Redanian Intelligence. These witchers will be introduced alongside Vesemir at Kaer Morhen, where Geralt will be taking Ciri early in season two. Paul Bullion (Peaky Blinders) has been cast as the fan favorite Lambert, who had a significant role in the games. Another notable role is Coën, who helps train Ciri in the ways of a witcher, and will be played by Yasen Atour (Young Wallander). Lastly, Thue Ersted Rasmussen has been cast as another gamer favorite, Eskel.
The witchers of Kaer Morhen will appear in approximately three episodes and will be joined by Cavill and Allan for Ciri’s training.
Mecia Simson has been cast in a lead role (possibly to appear in seven out of eight episodes of season two), as the Elven sorceress Francesca Findabair. Francesca is described as follows: “The most beautiful woman in the world. Francesca is tall, intelligent, powerful and protective towards her child.” As revealed by Redanian Intelligence, young actor Kaine Zajaz will be playing Francesca’s brother Gage, who is described as “a rotund bruiser with raven eyes. He has youthful exuberance and comic warmth. Gage is dependent on his sister’s leadership for survival. He will appear in four episodes of the new season.”
As in the books, the Elves are set to become an important political force in the Continent with the introduction of the guerilla army called the Scoia’tael, or the Squirrels.
Aisha Fabienne Ross is also joining the cast of The Witcher. Portraying the sorceress Lydia van Bredevoort, Fabienne will be acting alongside Mahesh Jadu’s Vilgefortz (introduced in season one). The character is described as follows: “Dark hair, almond eyes. Bears the scars from an experiment gone wrong. Secretary and Assistant to the Master (Vilgefortz). Carries out a horrible deed.” Lydia will appear in two episodes.
Lastly, Dolittle actress Carmel Laniado was cast as an original character (meaning, this character did not appear in the books). As first revealed by Deadline, Laniado will be playing Violet, “a young girl whose playful and whimsical demeanour is a front for a smarter and more sadistic character”. Violet will appear in approximately three episodes.
Keep in mind that there are still several unrevealed cast members, including the actor who will play Redanian Spymaster Dijkstra. Though we haven’t heard anything of Dijkstra’s partner-in-crime Philippa Eilhart, we believe she has far too important a role in the books to be excluded from the show. We believe more cast members will be revealed in the coming weeks.
Netflix confirms director lineup and returning cast members
Alongside the big cast reveal, Netflix confirmed the director lineup with The Wrap (as well as which episodes they will direct) and revealed which season one cast members will return to film scenes for the second season.
201: Stephen Surjik (Umbrella Academy, See)
202: Stephen Surjik (Umbrella Academy, See)
203: Sarah O’Gorman (Cursed, Jamestown)
204: Sarah O’Gorman (Cursed, Jamestown)
205: Ed Bazalgette (The Last Kingdom)
206: Geeta Patel (The Magicians)
207: Geeta Patel (The Magicians)
208: Ed Bazalgette (The Last Kingdom)
Returning cast include MyAnna Buring as Tissaia, Tom Canton as Filavandrel, Lilly Cooper as Murta, Jeremy Crawford as Yarpen Zigrin, Eamon Farren as Cahir, Mahesh Jadu as Vilgefortz, Terence Maynard as Artorius, Lars Mikkelsen as Stregobor, Mimi Ndiweni as Fringilla Vigo, Royce Pierreson as Istredd, Wilson Radjou-Pujalte as Dara, Anna Shaffer as Triss Merigold and Therica Wilson Read as Sabrina.
Redanian Intelligence was able to confirm that season two’s leading fight coordinator is Thomas Hacikoglu. Hacikoglu was in charge of training the cast and stuntmen for the fight scene at Blaviken in the series pilot, working alongside stunt co-ordinator Wolfgang Stegemann. Though we would have loved to see Stegemann return, it’s good that someone involved with The Witcher’s best fight scene is in charge of stunts in season two.
Season two to feature a fan-favorite monster from the games
Gamers were happy to find out about the castings of Lambert and Eskel, and it seems that Netflix are intending to please them once again with one of season two’s new monsters. Season two will pit our witchers against a Leshy, known in the games as a Leshen or Spriggan.
“Leshens dwell in dense, primeval woods,” the video game bestiary explains. “Fiercely territorial creatures, they hunt with stealth and cunning as their only companions. They use their inborn magic to control the plants and animals within their territory – and so, when stalking them, half the battle is merely getting near enough to strike.”
Though the show’s Leshy could be completely different from the ones seen in the games, it’s quite exciting to see this woodland monster in live action. Our sources informed us that the confrontation with the Leshy will have “serious consequences”, which sounds very interesting.
Redanian Intelligence Set Report (MILD SPOILERS)
Though filming had only begun in the middle of February, Redanian Intelligence has been coordinating with partners in the UK to provide a series of extensive set reports. This time, we’ll take a look at the Elven army camp and the aftermath of a battle, with all lead cast members confirmed on location.
SPOILER: Yennefer’s fate revealed in new pictures from the set
Season one of The Witcher ended with Yennefer’s fate unknown. During the Battle of Sodden Hill, Yennefer is forced to unbottle her chaos and unleashes a wave of fire on the Nilfgaardian army, and then disappears. Though Geralt (Henry Cavill) and Tissaia (MyAnna Buring) both search for her, she is nowhere to be found and perhaps presumed dead.
Now, Anya Chalotra (Yennefer) has been seen filming with her costar Mimi Ndiweni (Fringilla) in the Redland forest of Surrey. The two were last seen fighting on opposite sides of the battle, but it appears they are both captured by a militant faction of elves early in season two. In the scene captured above, Yennefer and Fringilla are led to the Elven army camp, where they meet two important elven characters.
Elven War Camp: First look at Francesca, King Filavandrel returns
As previously explained, season two of The Witcher will introduce an Elven storyline with key new characters Francesca (Mecia Simson, seen within the red circle) and Gage (Kaine Zajaz). Joining them is season one cast member Tom Canton, who plays King Filavandrel (the elf on the shelf from Jaskier’s song “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher”, next to Simson in the above image).
These cast members have been spotted filming with dozens of extras, all of whom were dressed as elves in a variety of new costumes created by The Witcher’s season two costume designer Lucinda Wright. These elves belong to the guerrilla militant group called the Scoia’tael, first introduced in the book Blood of Elves and revisited in CD Projekt RED’s video game trilogy.
The images shared above have been taken by Redanian Intelligence scout @GoTlikeLocations and photographer @PalaceProud (also shared by the Daily Mail). For the full gallery of set pictures, read the Redanian Intelligence report.
Geralt reunites with Roach and Ciri to film the aftermath of a battle
The Witcher season one ended with a major battle between Nilfgaard and the Northern Kingdoms at Sodden Hill, though the season concluded before the battle was over. New behind-the-scenes pictures reveal that Netflix have been filming the aftermath of a battle scene in Bourne Wood near London. We have also learned that Henry Cavill was filming on location alongside Geralt’s trusted mare Roach and his Child Surprise, Princess Ciri (Freya Allan).
This location has previously been used in films such as Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Gladiator (where the location was used in a battle sequence). Onlookers were able to spot dozens of fake bodies, including those of dead soldiers and horses, all pierced with arrows. Most of the bodies appeared to belong to Nilfgaardian soldiers, and we have learned that extras wearing season one’s Nilfgaardian armor have been spotted on location.
Seeing as The Witcher’s showrunner has already promised the armor will get a complete redesign, it’s likely the scenes filmed in Bourne Wood are a direct continuation of the battle in season one, and that the old armor was used here to maintain proper continuity. It’s possible that we will see the battle on screen, but it’s just as likely that only the aftermath will be shown.
Who was Nilfgaard fighting? There are two leading possibilities. The first is the Temerian army, as led by King Foltest (Shaun Dooley). Foltest’s army joined the battle at the very end of the season one finale, so it makes sense that his forces would clash with Nilfgaard early in the second season. The second possibility is the elven army, as they have been filming extensively the past couple of weeks and since bows are their signature weapon in the books.
It’s possible that the scenes filmed with Cavill and Allan (and Roach) were not the same as those with the dead bodies. Sometimes in the filming industry, the same location can be used for multiple scenes (in this case Bourne Wood). However, it’s likely that Geralt and Ciri ride through the battlefield as they were near Sodden Hill at the end of season one.
For all news on The Witcher, stay tuned with Redanian Intelligence and What’s on Netflix.