Season 2 of The Witcher is here, and we are back with another deep dive into the new season.
We already chopped it up with Henry Cavill and Freya Allan about Geralt and Ciri’s new direction this season that has fans very excited about the Netflix original series. Digging deeper into the show Cassius Life had the opportunity to speak with Anya Chalotra (Yennefer), Joey Batey (Jaskier) & Mimi M. Khayisa (Fringilla Vigo), newcomers to this season, Kim Bodnia (Vesemir) & Kristofer Hivju (Nivellen), and showrunner/executive producer Laura Schmidt.
During our interview, over Zoom, of course, we spoke about this season’s thought-provoking take on how we view monsters. The show usually features Cavill’s Geralt of Rivia dispatching supernatural beasts he’s been contracted to kill. Still, in season 2, we see that monsters don’t necessarily have to look out of the ordinary or be “evil.” We also touched on the long-awaited arrival of Vesemir, Yennefer, Jaskier, and Fringilla Vigo’s new path following season 1 and more.
Step into the interview below.
Cassius Life: This season, The Witcher revolves around monsters, of course, but it particularly highlights them differently. It showcases them by saying you don’t necessarily have to look like a monster to be a monster. Why is that an important theme this season?
Lauren Schmidt: Because it’s an important theme in our world, right? And I think by the way we try to show both sides. There are some people also that will appear to be evil on the outside or monstrous on the outside who are not at all. I guess the overall theme of our show is that everyone is sort of some shade of gray. No one is purely good. No one is purely bad.
I guess the overall theme of our show is that everyone is sort of some shade of gray. No one is purely good. No one is purely bad.
Just bringing up monsters, we made a really specific decision this season, and this is going to sound so granular, but we talked a lot about monsters’ eyes and eye contact with our characters. And it’s something that humanizes them a little bit more. We found in season one, the stories that we were most interested in were monsters that were sort of personified, monsters that had an agenda of their own or a backstory of their own, not just a random monster that Geralt kills along the way. And so we leaned heavily into that in season two and tried to give a lot of these monsters their own sense of purpose. And that becomes one of the main mysteries of the season, which is what do these monsters want, why are they all there? Why are they all coming for Ciri? And so I felt like it was a really interesting way to step up our game, not just in terms of design and VFX, but also making sure that they are as layered as our regular characters.
Mimi M. Khayisa: I feel like the best kind of work touches on what’s happening in the world around us. And even though the continent is this fantasy world, the themes are so real. They’re so humane. They’re so about human connection and how we treat each other, both on the big and small scales. And I think that’s why even just the dynamic is so important.
Anya Chalotra: I agree with that. It’s up to the audience, really, a lot of this show, this kind of good or evil really, there’s no sides. It’s up to you how you interpret these kinds of character situations and the choices they make. And who’s a monster, who’s not a monster? I was saying earlier that monsters, we always get to see them in the fight in a really vulnerable state, and they feel human. Geralt might have to choose whether that’s something he can save or whether that, for the greater good, he has to kill this person, this monster, who’s just trying to survive in the world. The way he knows best, they know best. So, yes, it’s tricky, but that’s why I love this show. It’s one of the main themes of this show that I love.
Kim Bodnia: You explained everything. It’s very well explained. And that’s the complex[ity] in the storytelling and to travel in emotional stuff, knowing that you are a monster and not a monster, and it takes a solution of dealing with it or not dealing with it. It’s so complex and so tough. But as an actor, this emotional stuff, it’s wonderful to work with.
Kristofer Hivju: It’s the theme of the show. And it’s like, what makes you a monster? Is it your looks, or is it your deeds? You know? And is it possible to be un- monster-ed? Like to stop being a monster? Or what makes you a monster? So that’s a bit of like the theme.
CL: Kristofer, you’re almost unrecognizable in your character, but we recognized you through all that makeup. Can you explain the process of becoming Nivellen, and what was it like actually portraying that role for you?
KH: Well, first of all, I love the guy. I think he had all these different specters of wit and humor and warmth. He’s a warm guy, and he’s funny. And he has this dark secret and everything he’s ashamed of. So the whole process of becoming that beast was interesting because we wanted to make it in prosthetics and not in like total CGI.
When you do a beast like that, he needed to be very emotional, and that’s difficult when you work with CGI. So there is CGI, but it’s just my face. The rest is a big, big suit.
CL: Kim, Vesemir is a very, very important character, and a lot of fans were waiting for his arrival into The Witcher. What was your preparation for the role, and were you nervous about taking on this character, being that he is very beloved and fans are expecting this guy to be on point in the show?
KB: He is beloved, and I loved him too, watching him in the games. My son had the game when it came out, and I watched him. I love Vesemir and in these short films, you see him, how he interacts. So there is not much about him, but they’re not starting with all his guilds and all his skills. And so, I found out that grounding in nature was very important.
So for me, I’ve lived in the forest for 20 years. I’ve been working a lot in the Arctic circle, know about how it is to be alone in the Arctic. So to being with Vesemir is to have peacefulness, and you have time to look into yourself and get some answer of that. And that’s what I’m bringing in to give Geralt a possibility to do.
He is beloved, and I loved him too, watching him in the games. My son had the game when it came out, and I watched him. I love Vesemir and in these short films, you see him, how he interacts.
CL: Season 1 ended on a big-time battle, and many things have changed for your characters [Yennefer, Jaskier, and Fringilla Vigo] in season 2. Can you take us through that?
AC: We all go through such huge changes and kind of face new threats, bigger threats, new challenges in the form of people that we kind of meet in the season. I definitely make an unlikely alliance that changes my perspective. Yeah. Yennefer goes through a lot. She needs a break, man. She goes through so much.
But you know, it’s all for the greater good of Yennefer as a kind of a person. She grows a lot, and she makes more considerate choices. Her purpose shifts at the end to become a little less selfish, I think. I mean, we’ll see. Yen might bounce back. You never know, but yeah. An epic journey of self-discovery for sure.
MK: I feel like we all start this season having lost something. And so we’re having to rediscover who we are without those monumental things anymore. So that’s kind of where the journey starts with all of us, I feel it’s a universal theme.
We all go through such huge changes and kind of face new threats, bigger threats, new challenges in the form of people that we kind of meet in the season.
Joey Batey: I think the end of season one, the battle of Sodden Hill in the books, but we really got to realize it in the show and see how monumental this event was. It is world-changing. It’s continent-changing.
And in spite of the fact that it felt pretty epic, it feels like the first drop of rain before the storm that is coming, that this huge war is coming. And I think the whole continent is just feeling on a knife-edge. And everyone’s very tense. And everyone’s very aware that survival is not guaranteed anymore. And that bleeds through into every single character. And that’s a testament to Lauren’s writing, just to create this real tension throughout this whole show. It’s kind of almost unbearable at times.
Season 2 of The Witcher is now streaming exclusively on Netflix.
Photo: Getty Images / Netflix / The Witcher
The Witcher’s Cast & Showrunner Talk About Season 2’s Deep Look At “Monsters”
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