Now we know just who’s behind two crucial figures in The Witcher television series. Netflix has confirmed the actors who will bring Ciri and Yennefer to life in its new fantasy epic.
Unveiled through a new interview with the Hollywood Reporter, showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich said Freya Allan (Into The Badlands) and Anya Chalotra (Wanderlust) will join Henry Cavill’s Geralt of Rivia, as Ciri and Yennefer of Vengerberg, respectively.
After leaked casting calls for Ciri had potentially indicated that the character could be played by a minority actress, there was some backlash from Witcher fans that lead to Hissrich stepping away from social media. But according to the showrunner, it didn’t affect the extensive casting process for the series:
It boils down to a couple things. One, this property has such a passionate fanbase. 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 favourite 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 enamoured 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.
Although the Netflix series is directly inspired by the fantasy novels by Andrzej Sapkowski rather than the wildly popular video game takes by CD Projekt Red, Ciri and Yennefer are well known characters to fans of the game.
Ciri played a major role in the widely-lauded Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, as a ward of Geralt’s and princess of the Kingdom of Cintra, while Yennefer, a powerful sorceress, is one of Geralt’s main love interests in the games, as she will be in the TV series.
The news also comes with even more casting confirmations. Jodhi May will play Queen Calanthe of Cintra, while Björn Hlynur Haraldsson will play her husband, Eist. Adam Levy will play Mousesack the Druid; MyAnna Buring the head of a magical academy named Tissaia (with Mimi Ndiweni and Therica Wilson-Read as two apprentice sorcerers, Fringilla and Sabrina); and lastly, Millie Brady will play an outcast princess, Renfri.
We’ll bring you more on Netflix’s plans for The Witcher as we learn them.