Advanced Television

Netflix’s The Witcher “a fantasy epic with heart”

October 28, 2019

Nik Roseveare @ MCM Comic Con

Netflix announced back in May of 2017 that it had acquired the rights to develop a TV series based on The Witcher – a collection of fantasy novels by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski – and the show is finally being teased for an imminent launch.

At MCM Comic Con, fans were treated to a first look at the series, as showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich took to the Centre Stage (whose previous credits include Daredevil and The Umbrella Academy), alongside Freya Allan (pictured) who plays one of the lead roles in the series.

Preview images of the show have quickly seen the project compared to Game of Thrones, but Schmidt Hissrich quickly shot those comparisons down. “It will exist within that pantheon of fantasy shows,” she admitted, but would it replace Game of Thrones? “No because Game of Thrones is irreplaceable, [The Witcher] will “have its own place [within that pantheon]”, she ascertained.

There are eight books in The Witcher series, and Schmidt Hissrich said it was “quite a task” to decide where to start their on-screen adaptation, but ultimately decided to start essentially where the novels start – with book one, which is a collection of short stories. Schmidt Hissrich said it “sets the foundation for the world”, and is her favourite book in the series.

One key change, however, will be the introduction of Allan as Princess Ciri from the very start, as in the written saga she doesn’t appear until the third book. The reason for this decision is to “bring her character to the forefront” and for audiences to see how she becomes the character that readers of the books will already know. “You will get to see her before she’s a fully formed character,” she explained.

When quizzed on the appeal of the fantasy genre in current times, Allan offered: “People enjoy the escapism – being transported to a different world […] I think that’s what attracts a lot of people, that’s what attracted me!”

Allan also assured fans that the show will have heart and drama. “Some shows [like this] get suffocated in CGI and action,” she said. “but this show has heart […] and as you’ve just seen [referring to a clip shown to the audience] the characters have time to breathe and express emotion.”

The fantasy series also stars Henry Cavill, best known for his portrayal of Superman, and is set to land on Netflix before the end of the year. The debut season will consist of 8 episodes.

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