With the Henry Cavill-starring Netflix fantasy series, not even a Witcher is immune to the ravages of COVID-19, having had something of a stop-start production schedule for its second season after many delays caused by the pandemic.
However, new updates about the second run continue to come in, and for the next season, the latest changes have seen the news of some new cast members.
Cavill wore the majestic white wig to play Geralt of Rivia again in season two and he announced in early November that he had returned from Yorkshire to London to film some scenes in a studio during lockdown before positive tests for four crew members indicated that while everyone was screened, the entire operation would shut down.
What effect this would have on the scheduled release on Netflix for season two is not yet clear.
Netflix dropped a very short first look at what’s to come, concealed in a montage of monster encounters from the first season, to coincide with Halloween.
Set to the unmistakable melody of Bobby Pickett’s Monster Mash, fans can keep an eye out for two blink-and-you’ll-miss-them-new clips around the 15 second mark, and again at 31 seconds.
The show follows a single monster hunter called Geralt of Rivia, based on the Witcher novels by author Andrzej Sapkowski, which also inspired a hugely popular video game series (Cavill).
He finds himself increasingly drawn towards a strong sorceress and a princess with a dangerous secret over the course of the first season, crossing paths in the finale that sets up the next chapter.
The second season will see Geralt take Princess Ciri to Kaer Morhen’s childhood home, while The Continent’s kings, elves, humans, and demons are all vying for greater power.
For Netflix, the series was a mammoth success, leading them to reveal a live-action spin-off series entitled The Witcher: Blood Roots, set 1200 years before the main show events and telling the story of the first Witcher ever.
Here’s everything we know about season two of The Witcher so far including plots, cast, and how shooting has been affected by coronavirus.
Netflix: The Witcher Season 2 Release Date
The second season of Witcher has no specific launch date yet, but we do know that the series will not return until 2021, particularly after the latest shutdown in November caused by four crew members testing positive for COVID-19.
“During a Reddit AMA, showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich confirmed the timeframe before this development: “We do not yet have a target launch date for season two after 2021. We don’t want the product to be hurried. That will not help anyone.
Between March and August, the spread of the coronavirus forced producers to postpone shooting for five months, ensuring they had a lot of catching up to do and, hopefully, the current hold-up would not be excessive.
Earlier, after a long shot, Henry Cavill posted a picture of himself in make-up, confirming that frequent COVID-19 monitoring is being done on set to protect the cast and crew.
“The caption reads: “COVID cleared and bubbled are both of us. Here in Kaer Morhen, we get checked twice a week! ”
Netflix won’t want to place too long a gap between the first and second seasons, considering the show’s success, so it is likely to be a priority to finish off work on the next episodes.
Cast: The Witcher Season 2
Obviously, Henry Cavill, Superman’s alter ego, will return as Geralt of Rivia, with the prophesied Princess Ciri as Freya Allan. Yennefer and Jodhi May will reappear as Queen Calanthe, with Joey Batey back as the fan-favourite bard and sidekick Jaskier, Anya Chalotra will play sorceress and love interest (sometimes called Dandelion in the novels).
In February 2020, Deadline announced that Kim Bodnia will play Vesemir, hot off his role as Villanelle’s handler in Killing Eve, an accomplished Golden Age Witcher (and Geralt’s father figure).
Speaking of the casting, Hissrich said I am so excited to welcome the cast of The Witcher to Kim Bodnia.” In shows like Killing Eve and The Bridge, I have admired his unique talents, and can not wait for him to add courage, tenacity, and warmth to the character of Vesemir, who is such an integral part of our coming season.
In the second season, there are a variety of new cast members expected to star as well. They include: Coen’s Yasen Atour (Young Wallander), Vereena’s Agnes Bjorn (Monster), Paul Bullion (Peaky Blinders) as Lambert, Lydia’s Aisha Fabienne Ross (The Danish Girl), and newcomer Mecia Simson, who will play Francesca.
Game of Thrones star Kristofer Hivju, who tested positive for coronavirus after filming The Witcher Shut Down, is another recent addition to the cast, but has since made a full recovery.
In December 2020, several new cast members, including Emily Pollet (Emmerdale), James Eeles (Peaky Blinders), Cayvan Coates and Rebecca Hanssen, were confirmed for the season (Dixi).
As Queen Meve of Lyria and Rivia, Pollet will play a character codenamed Human Mother G and Hannsen stars, although the characters played by Coates and Eeles have not been announced yet.
Quick and Furious 9 star Thue Ersted Rasmussen was originally cast as Eskel and even started shooting, but after production was postponed due to COVID-19, it had to pull out due to scheduling conflicts.
The Witcher’s fighting choreographer Vladimír Furdík, who played the Game of Thrones Night King, won’t be back in season two.
And rumors indicate that Dolittle star Carmel Laniado will join the cast for Series 2, playing Violet’s supporting role.
The Witcher Season 2 Delayed?
The Witcher was supposed to return in late 2020, approximately a year from the season one premiere, but the coronavirus pandemic has postponed development twice.
Four crew testing positive for COVID-19 in early November prompted the new shutdown and production was suspended so that all crew could be screened and cleared safely before filming resumed. At present, the crew who are infected are in isolation.
Before the new shutdown, showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich explained to The Wrap: “We were shooting in the UK and when we shut down, we were about six weeks into our season.” We were in the middle of a broad series, literally, that we had been planning for months.
But we have a very foreign crew, and it was not just about the wellbeing of our crew and our cast, but also about taking them back home to their families. But for us, it was at the forefront.’
Although the suspension was initially supposed to last just two weeks, it actually lasted for five complete months, but filming is now back on. Hooray!-Hooray!
The Witcher team announced that on 17 August 2020 they would return to shooting, although Hissrich noted that it is vital for the cast and crew to feel personally comfortable with conditions on set.
Furthermore as long as social distancing measures are required to avoid the spread of the disease, it will be difficult or indeed impossible for some scenes involving close proximity or large crowds to pull off safely.
Still the crew apparently returned to work in early August (slightly earlier than originally announced), with behind-the-scenes figures showing the latest filming processes on social media.
And later in August, in the new season, Henry Cavill shared a sneak peek, posting a snap behind the scenes on his Instagram page that showed him getting prepared for the part.
“He wrote, “This year no bald hat. Only a few kilos of 2 kinds of medical tape and a little glue…. Elimination is a joy. Jacqui and Ailbhe have the deft touch of angels here however. Jacqui is almost like the Angel of Vengeance, but all of that is part of her beauty.
Yeah, and for those who may be nervous. All of us are Cleared and Bubbled by Covid. Here in Kaer Morhen, we get checked twice a week! ”
Cavill posted yet another snap in October 2020, revealing he was still preparing for the job.
The delay, however, claimed one casualty, with Quick and Furious 9 actor Thue Ersted Rasmussen, due to scheduling conflicts, pulling out of the role of Eskel (another Witcher character).
The Henry Cavill series may be further delayed by looking for a replacement, but this gives plenty of time to read or rewatch the first season of The Witcher books.
If you’re concerned about a long wait, you can listen to the behind-the-scenes podcast of Netflix’s official The Witcher, in which you can hear cast and crew members, including Anya Chalotra’s Yennefer, speak about what went down during shooting and what could have been.
The Witcher Season 2 Plot (*Spoiler Alert)
Season one was based on a compilation of short stories set before The Last Wish and The Sword of Destiny, the Witcher saga, with the next series set to mine more from that material as well as Blood of Elves, the first mainline installment.
“In season two, a lot of what we set up in season one will come into play,” Hissrich told RadioTimes.com. We’re going to get into some Blood of Elves stuff. But I also think there are things that we did not have time to do that we wanted to adapt from The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny.
So it’s very exciting to be blessed with season two and to know that we can go back and explore some of those things. A big mix of things are going to be there.
Blood of Elves sees Geralt taking on Freya Allan’s Ciri’s safety and training, but considering that some of the plot of Ciri has already been presented in season one, it is unlikely to be a direct adaptation of those events.
New story specifics, however have indicated that Ciri will go to Kaer Morhen’s Witcher fortress where she can take on Witcher-type training (based on new photos, above), as in the books.
One thing we do know is that besides Henry Cavill’s Geralt, the series will feature more Witchers, including book and game fan favorites Vesemir, Coen and Lambert.
“Really, we got to know Geralt in season one, and he is our prime example of the Witcher,” said Hissrich. And then there’s another Witcher, Remus, whom we’ve come across in Episode 103, who’s dying soon.
“So it was really, for us about getting Geralt back to his roots and learning where he came from and what his story is and what his sense of family is.”
Hissrich went on to clarify that, due to constraints imposed on television production as a result of the pandemic, the current coronavirus epidemic may involve changes to the story they had originally planned.
“It’ll have an impact on the story,” she said. “He’ll have to. But one of the best things about being a writer on set is that when we need them, I am there to make the adjustments.
Really as far as writing is concerned, over the past eight weeks we’ve just been honing a lot. Really digging back into scripts, making some major changes, especially in our characters’ emotional journeys, and ensuring that everything we write feels really grounded and valid.
Whatever the case, expect some Witcher creatures, sword-fighting, more about Nilgaard’s war and the Elvish rebellion, as well as a likely emphasis on Princess Ciri’s prophecies and forces.
“In Season 2, with her character, we’re really digging in and we’re going to understand her a lot more,” Hissrich told TV Guide. And yes, the development you’re describing, where she starts practicing, where she really becomes the character we know from the books and later from the video games, we’re going to see that person becoming her. But on a dime, she doesn’t adjust. Forgetting where she came from is something we don’t want to do.
What’s very fun about Season 2 is that we’ve actually missed a lot of time in the books [after] Geralt and Ciri meet in Sodden at that moment… when we come back in the next book. Ok in writing the show, we realized that we didn’t really want to miss the first few months of getting to know each other.
Hissrich also talked with Collider about when, and when it could end, the series could go into the second season.
It’s a delicate dance,” she said, “and you need to be able to get a sense of where you’re going. “An end point is required for your stories. They need a direction they need to shoot for.
I’m sure I said I could write seven seasons at some point, but I’m also sure I told you I could write 20 seasons. As long as it makes sense to write this series, I will keep on writing this series. This implies taking the books organically and allowing the story to flow, but also allowing the story to end when it needs to end.
So, provided season two sees similar levels of success as the first, Geralt and his crew will have a lot more adventures in store.
Another Witcher timeline?
Notably, in season two, The Witcher would ditch its controversial time-jumping narrative structure, which proved to be confusing to some viewers who did not know the books.
“What we will see in season two is that all of our characters are on the same timeline,” Hissrich told The Wrap. However, what that helps one to do story-wise is to experiment with time in slightly different ways.
We get to do flashbacks, we get to do flash-forwards, we get to combine time in a totally different way that we couldn’t do in season one really.
So I think it’s going to be much easier for the audience, particularly a new audience coming in to follow and understand. But with time, there are always going to be some fun challenges.
She said, referring to the criticism of season one: “I hear there was an audience out there that was a bit like What the hell is going on?” Why am I not understanding this? ‘”
For those people I think season two is going to be a lot easier to follow. Season 2 aligns all our characters with a similar timeline, I guess. We’re definitely playing with time a little bit, but in a different way, and it’s easier, I guess, to swallow.
Witcher Season 2: Video game reference
Seemingly so! After a subtle nod in season one (in a bath tub via Geralt), Hissrich pointed out that we haven’t seen the last Easter Eggs video game.
“Hissrich told TV Guide, “We love games.
What we obviously tried to do was go back to the source material, not to adapt an adaptation. But that doesn’t mean that we ourselves aren’t fans of the games, that we don’t enjoy them on our own, and that we know that because of the video games, a large part of our audience has only heard of The Witcher.
And we want to pay homage, as much as possible, to them. And I was also on the CD Projekt Red. I met all of these very talented people there, all of them. And it’s incredible what they do. So, if we can give them a wink and a nod whenever we can, we’ll do it.’