As the world clamours for "the next Game Of Thrones__", Netflix is heading into the epic medieval fantasy breach with The Witcher – a prestige streaming series with a wealth of monster-slaying, bounty-hunting source material to draw from. Here's everything you need to know.
What is The Witcher?
The Witcher has its roots in a series of novels and short stories by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The books' Polish umbrella title is Wiedźmin or The Hexer, and they were adapted for Polish film and TV in the early 2000s. Next, the books became the basis for some acclaimed videogames culminating in The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt and its expansions, which received major critical acclaim and helped popularise the franchise for English-speaking audiences. Following those, The Witcher is now being adapted as an epic Netflix series starring Henry Cavill.
What is The Witcher's story?
All iterations revolve around Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter and loner in a fantasy land where humans learned magic from the elves before more-or-less wiping them out. In the process of that slaughter the humans unleashed terrible beasts upon the world – hence the need for warriors like Geralt. The specific synopsis for the Netflix show says that, "when destiny hurtles Geralt toward a powerful sorceress and a young princess with a dangerous secret, the three must learn to navigate the increasingly volatile Continent together."
Is The Witcher based on the books or the games?
Showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich told a 2019 Comic-Con audience that the show is "an addition to the books" rather than a straight adaptation of anything that's gone before. "What’s great about The Witcher is that it’s so much more than a fantasy," she believes. "Really it's a story about a family." HIssrich's previous credits as a writer and producer include The West Wing, The Umbrella Academy, Daredevil and The Defenders.
Who is in the cast of The Witcher?
As already noted, Henry Cavill is playing Geralt of Rivera. Hissrich says nobody else was considered: "He was my first meeting. I didn’t have writers or scripts yet – just a greenlight and a lot of passion.... I’ve never forgotten the passion he brought. He is Geralt. He always has been." Known for being a bit of a gamer, Cavill says he's played The Witcher III "a lot" and that "there was something about Geralt that struck a chord with me. He’s a hard exterior, real-world type person [but] at the same time, deep down, he’s a real hero."
Elsewhere in the cast:
Anya Cholatra plays the sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg; Freya Allan plays Princess Ciri; Jodhi May plays Queen Calanthe; MyAnna Buring plays Arch Mistress Tissaia de Vries; and Lars Mikkelsen will have a recurring role as the wizard Stregobor. Other principal roles are taken by Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Adam Levy, Mimi Ndiweni and Therica Wilson-Rea.
When is The Witcher released?
As ever, Netflix are being cagey about exactly when The Witcher will arrive on the streaming service. At ComicCon in July 2019 the official line was still only "coming soon", but it's at least expected before the end of the year.
Andrzej Sapkowski's translated Witcher books are published in the UK by Gollancz.