Cavill will exit the show after the upcoming season, with Liam Hemsworth taking over his role.
When Season 3 of “The Witcher” premieres sometime next year, it will effectively act as the final chapter of the show’s first act, with series star Henry Cavill departing the series, with the lead character of Geralt of Rivia recast with Liam Hemsworth beginning in the fourth season. Since the announcement, fans have wondered how the show will handle the transition, but showrunner Lauren Hissrich is confidant that Season 3 will be a fitting goodbye to the Netflix series’ first star.
“Geralt’s big turn is about giving up neutrality and doing anything that he has to do to get to Ciri [Freya Allan],” Hissrich said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “And to me, it’s the most heroic sendoff that we could have, even though it wasn’t written to be that.”
Although she didn’t discuss Hemsworth’s interpretation of the character, Hissrich further told EW that Season 4 will see Geralt take on a new goal, with the changes of the character helping to mirror the change in actors.
“Geralt has a new mission in mind when we come back to him in season 4. He’s a slightly different Geralt than we expected,” Hissrich said. “Now, by the way, that’s an understatement.”
Cavill was announced to be leaving “The Witcher” after the upcoming third season in October. At the time, the actor was expected to reprise his role as DC comic book hero Superman in a new film, following his cameo appearance in the end credits of “Black Adam” starring Dwayne Johnson. Since then, however, a new Superman movie set in the character’s younger days has been announced, and Cavill confirmed he would be not be playing the character in the immediate future. Since then, the actor has lined up a new project, starring in and executive producing an Amazon series based on popular tabletop game “Warhammer 40,000.”
Although “The Witcher” Season 3 won’t premiere until next year, the series recently received a spinoff prequel limited series “Blood Origin,” starring Minnie Driver and Michelle Yeoh. Driver recently addressed the exit of Cavill in an interview with EW, saying the character could function in the same way that “Doctor Who” does, with new characters taking on the part.
“We come from this tradition of ‘Doctor Who’ where the Doctor regenerates,” Driver said. “I think we need to look at it far more like it’s amazing. It’s an amazing person, it’s an amazing character, and we should have different people playing it.”
EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century’s next installment in the Planet of the Apes franchise is a go and has found its new star. Sources tell Deadline that Freya Allan is set to star the newly named Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. Deadline reported last month that Owen Teague was tapped as the lead ape of the pic, and insiders add that Peter Macon has also joined the cast. Production is set to start next month with Maze Runner helmer Wes Ball directing.
Here’s the first look at the film.
Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes starts an all-new chapter in the Apes saga, picking up many years after the conclusion of 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes. The screenplay is by Josh Friedman, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver and Patrick Aison. Joe Hartwick Jr, Jaffa, Silver and Jason Reed are the film’s producers, with Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping exec producing.
“Planet of the Apes is one of the most iconic and storied science fiction franchises in film history, as well as being an indelible part of our studio’s legacy,” said Steve Asbell, president of 20th Century Studios. “With Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes we are privileged to continue the series’ tradition of imaginative, thought-provoking cinema, and can’t wait to share Wes’ extraordinary vision for this new chapter with audiences in 2024.”
Planet of the Apes is one of 20th Century Studios’ most popular and enduring franchises, amassing more than $1.7 billion in worldwide box office. Based on a novel by Pierre Boulle, the first film in the series was released by then-20th Century Fox in 1968 and went on to become one of the year’s biggest hits, winning a special Academy Award. It was followed by four theatrical sequels and two TV series. A remake, Planet of the Apes, directed by Tim Burton, was released in 2001, and the 2011 reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes was followed by two sequels, 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes.
As for the casting process, while Teague was a top choice from the jump, the lead human has a long process that has been pursued by a longer list of rising stars in this town. In recent weeks, Allan tested several times including a final audition in front of Ball as he was scouting locations. She would eventually land the role.
Macon can be seen on The Orville.
Allan is best known for her breakout role as Ciri opposite Henry Cavill in Netflix’s The Witcher series. She recently wrapped production on Season 2. She also has the StudioCanal pic Baghead coming up. She is repped by CAA and United Agents.
Teague is repped by CAA, and Macon is repped by the Kohner Agency and Framework Entertainment.
Source: Deadline Hollywood
Freya Allan was just 16 years old when the opportunity to audition for a buzzy, new Netflix series called The Witcher came her way. Unfamiliar with the story, she did what any young person would do: She googled it. What she discovered was a best-selling book series comprised of six novels and 15 short stories by Andrzej Sapkowski, a massively popular video game trilogy, and a huge fan base. It was clear the project had life-changing potential for a young actress trying to find her big break. “I wasn’t going to be like, ‘No, I’m not going to play Ciri. … That would be a bit mental,” she recalls.
It’s been almost two years to the day since the fantasy series—which is about the legend of a monster hunter with supernatural abilities and a princess linked to each other by destiny—premiered on Netflix, quickly becoming one of the streamer’s most popular shows to date. Not surprisingly, it also put Allan on the map. Landing the covetable role of Princess Ciri was a dream come true for the UK native, but there was a catch: She’d have to wait an entire season to showcase the part of the character she really loved. Where in season one we only get a glimpse of Ciri’s full potential, the second chapter sees the princess really come into her own as a sword-wielding warrior. Not to mention, we finally get the meetup we’ve all been waiting for between Ciri, Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavil), and the sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra)—a moment that does not disappoint.
In anticipation of this exciting new chapter, I caught up with Allan earlier this month to talk about the joys of filming season two (including her new obsession with sword training), the challenges with growing up on-screen, and the projects she’d like to take on next.
Your character Ciri really comes into her own this season. What did you enjoy about showcasing this side of her?
I’ve been waiting for this for a whole season because… When I got the job, I immediately read the book straight after, and I thought I would get to do all this training and everything. And then the scripts came through, and none of that was in it, so I was so disappointed. I remember I was at a coffee shop with my mom, and I was like, “Mom! There’s no fighting at all. There’s not even three words.” So I had to wait a whole season. When the scripts came through for season two, I was so excited that I was actually going to finally do the training. But also, I was given a far juicer storyline. I was really excited about that.
In addition to all the action, what are you most excited for audiences to see going into this next chapter?
I’m excited for them to see the three of us together—Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri—because I know that’s what everyone is waiting for. And also, I’m excited for Kaer Morhen, so me with Geralt and Lambert and Coen. I love the relationship Ciri has with all of those characters. And I think all of them have an influence on her, like massively. So I’m really excited for people to see that, and I think they will like the way it looks as well, Kaer Morhen.
Yes, I love the dynamic between Ciri and all of the boys at Kaer Morhen.
It was so much fun. I was getting to be like the girl amongst just guys. And also, I’m a lot younger than them as well. You think it would be like, “Oh, is that weird or whatever,” but no, it makes you feel like you almost have the upper hand because you can take the mick out of all of them, and that was a lot of fun. There was definitely a brother-sister dynamic between all of us.
Ciri is in full training mode at Kaer Morhen and really pushes herself physically. What kind of training did you undergo to prepare yourself for the season?
A month before filming began, I would go into the stunt department and learn the basic sword work and basic technique because that enables you to pick up more complex choreography. And strangely, that’s actually harder than you would imagine because there is something awkward at the start with learning the basic technique because you have to involve a second hand, and you forget about it. Getting that is like muscle memory. As with dance, you need to just drill it in, and once you get it, it’s so much easier. I was obsessively there. The stunt coordinator one night was like, “You might as well sleep here, Freya. You are always here.” He would come back in and be like, “You are still here, Freya?” And I was like, “Yep!” I just loved it. I also loved the people, so that probably helped as well. So like Ciri, I wanted to do the hardest stuff straight away. But it was like, “Steady on, you need to learn the basics.”
I want to take it back to the beginning. What intrigued you initially about a character like Ciri?
When I got the audition, I think what made me want to play the part was the fact that I googled it and was like, “Yo, this is going to be big.” It was weird because I thought that before, and then I filmed it and was like, “I don’t know what it’s going to be. Maybe it’s just not going to work out at all.” There were so many people who were fans of [the story], so I was like, “Surely, even if it doesn’t do well, people will watch it.”
I was at the age when you are trying to get in there. … I wasn’t going to be like, “No, I’m not going to play Ciri.” … That would be a bit mental. But even if I had all the choice in the world, I was especially into the idea of being in a fantasy show or movie. When I was 14, one of the movies that I really loved… I don’t know what it was about it, but it was Snow White and the Huntsman. So when I saw the role of Ciri, I was like, “Oh my God, that’s kind of like a similar thing, a princess who escapes and becomes a warrior. And then I googled her, and she just looked super cool, so why wouldn’t you want to play her? I remember seeing the role and being like, “This is my dream role.” And I remember thinking… When you’re an actor, you are always too small, or you are too blonde or whatever, but with this, I was like, “I look right for it. This is the one.” I felt very passionate about getting it.
How does a character like Ciri challenge you both as an actress and personally?
With every role, there are always challenges, and it’s almost always the same challenge, which is you are problem-solving the whole time and deciding which direction to take something. There is a lot of chatter about “Oh, well my character wouldn’t do this,” and I’ve got myself saying that, but ultimately, we do stuff that is out of character every day on a daily basis. So I think having that choice of “I could do this scene in this direction or that direction” you learn to just go with your instinct. Once you embody the mentality of the character, then the instincts as to what you do within the context of a scene comes way quicker if you get the mind of them.
To be honest, challenges with season two were just that we didn’t shoot in order at all. We were all over the place. It was like episode one, then episode five and episode three and episode seven and episode four. It’s hard enough to keep up with The Witcher [story line] anyway, let alone shooting muddled. So that was definitely a challenge.
Personally, a challenge I had with regard to season one was that I was going through that stage in my personal life where I was turning into a woman. Having a show come out where I looked so young and no makeup—in fact, not just no makeup but white paste on my face and gray hair and bleached eyebrows—doesn’t make you feel particularly good about yourself. So I went through a little chapter where I was having a crisis of like, “Oh my God, this show is coming out, and I feel like I’m getting older, but everyone is going to see me as this 12-year-old.” I felt a bit insecure about it.
Geralt, played by Henry Cavil, is like a father figure to Ciri. What do you love about collaborating with Henry on-screen?
Ah, you know what. The scene in episode one [of season two] toward the end where we are at the campfire, that was actually Henry’s idea to have that scene, which I thought was a brilliant idea. I remember us doing it, and afterwards, we were both in awe of what had happened. Henry said to me, “I feel like we’ve said more to each other in that scene than ever before in real life or as our characters.” I don’t know how it came across on-screen, but for us, it was a real moment. That’s definitely one of my favorites. You are seeing Ciri open up to him as well. … It’s the first stepping stone to them becoming a duo.
In a past interview, you said that a similarity between you and Ciri is the confidence to use your voice and speak up for what you believe in. You also talked about how you love to speak out about subjects you are passionate about. What are some of those subjects at this moment?
Well, there are many things. Let me just start on a little rant here. I went to a girls school, and I had the best time. I really loved school. But with regards to feminism and equality, I think sometimes it goes in the direction of making women have to do things that are typically associated or numerically dominated by men. So for example, at school, we were forced into doing the science end of things, And this is just an example I have experienced. I think there should be more emphasis on women to do whatever the fuck they want. It should just be completely equal. In terms of even roles, there will be a character that’s a woman, and she kills people, right, and it will be immediately like, “What’s it like playing a strong character? And I can understand that because it’s great to see a woman be strong, but I think there is also something for looking at those character traits that are more typically associated with women, like motherly kindness, etc., as well as that physical strength. There is so much put on the typically male traits, and it’s not like we’re trying to turn women into men. It’s just about making everyone feel like they can do whatever the hell they want. So anyway, that’s my rant. Also, the education system is, I think, just not the best it could be. It should be about learning rather than just trying to get points and grades and not remember anything that you were actually meant to learn. This is turning into a raging session. These things rile me up.
The Witcher is your first big role. How has this project set you up for future roles and/or influenced the projects you seek out?
I really just want to do something that doesn’t have any fantastical elements in it for a second. Even Baghead, we just wrapped, but I really enjoyed shooting it because I actually was able to find a lot of real moments within it. Thank God, because it would have driven me crazy just running away from monsters all the time as usual. But I would ultimately like to do some more real human stories. Obviously, I love the other stuff as well, but I think that will be a nice change and something I’m really interested in and what I’m watching at the moment as well.
What is a project you have found lately that fits that?
Let me look at my list and tell you what I last watched. I recently watched The Deer Hunter. That’s the type of movie that I [want to do]. Why aren’t those movies being made? Don’t get me wrong. There is something to appreciate with the Marvel movies and things like that, that are visually spectacular. They are exciting. They’re colorful. But I don’t know. Those [films like The Deer Hunter] are the ones that really stick with me and that I remember.
Outside of acting, you are a very talented painter and have shared some of your work on Instagram. Can you tell me a little about what inspires you with this art form?
What inspires me, to start with, is my friends because literally three of my closest friends are at art school right now. Especially my best friend, she’s called Sophie, and I just love her work. We have been best friends since like 11, and we did art right through school. So I learned most of my art through school. I don’t do it as much as I would like to, and I want to do it more when I have some time again. Sometimes, it takes will to make yourself do it because you have to be in the right mindset, or I end up getting frustrated with myself—like, “Why can’t I create a masterpiece right now?” So many artists inspire me as well. Sometimes, I find them on Instagram.
Do you find yourself painting when you have downtime on a project?
Actually, at the very end of season two, I started doing a bit, but like really badly. It was actually way harder than I thought because no one was standing still. I would start sketching someone, and then they would be off over there. It was a nightmare! Something I also love, my dad used to be a photographer, and he gave me a film camera for my birthday, and I really got into that because he was amazing at film photography and developing it and everything. I like taking pictures when people don’t know you are taking them. I do set people up because I’m learning… but in the ideal world, I would like to take photos where I’m genuinely catching a moment. I took that on set with me on the film I just did. I didn’t get too many shots because it was a horror film, and it was all dark, like a lot of dungeon stuff, so it wasn’t ideal for lighting, but when I could, I took photos.
So we’re coming up on the end of 2021. Looking ahead, what are you looking forward to most in 2022?
I don’t want to jinx it, because the whole COVID situation is looking a bit bleak again, but I would love to travel if I can, if the COVID situation allows it. I want to go somewhere sunny, and I also want to go somewhere wintery. That’s the idea in my head. I’m excited to hopefully do another project, other than The Witcher [season] 3. I’m hoping to play another character, something completely different. So hopefully, a good script comes along.
The Witcher season two is now streaming on Netflix.
Source: Who What Wear
EXCLUSIVE: Freya Allan, a breakout in the Netflix series The Witcher, is set to star in Baghead for Studiocanal and The Picture Company. Production will begin in the fall in Berlin. Allan stars in the upcoming Studiocanal/The Picture Company action thriller Gunpowder Milkshake for Netflix.
The film will be directed by Alberto Corredor, who directed the short film that was acquired to be turned into a feature length horror film. Christina Pamies and Bryce McGuire wrote the script. Studiocanal will commence worldwide sales at the Cannes Market.
Baghead revolves around a mysterious figure called Baghead, a diminutive wrinkled up person who is able to manifest the dead and bring them back to our world for short intervals. People seek out the mysterious medium to reconnect with lost loved ones. Once in contact with Baghead however, the title character’s true powers and intentions are revealed and there is a high price to pay for its contact with the deceased. The feature transfer will build on that story line and take a Saw-like approach, adding in supernatural elements. Allan will play the film’s lead, who must contend with the evil entity which has deep connections to her family’s past.
The Picture Company partners Alex Heineman & Andrew Rona will produce under their overall deal at Studiocanal, along with Vertigo’s Roy Lee (It) the exec producer with Alibi’s Jake Wagner. Short creators Corredor and Lorcan Reilly will also be exec producers, and Studiocanal’s Ron Halpern, Shana Eddy and Rachel Henchosberg will oversee.
This becomes the latest example where a horror/sci-fi short served as a strong calling card. Recent examples include David F. Sandberg (Lights Out), Andy Muschietti (Mama), and Neill Blomkamp, whose Alive in Joberg became District 9.
Rona and Heineman also produced the short film transfer Come Play at Amblin with Jacob Chase directing, and have set several others set up around town. The producers shoot the Liam Neeson thriller Retribution in Berlin next month and this week they acquired the podcast Shipworm for a feature.
Allan is repped by CAA
Source: Deadline Hollywood
Freya Allan will play young Eva in this project movie.
EFM Big Deal: STX Splashes On Starry Female Assassin Pic ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ With Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett, More
EXCLUSIVE: In a splashy eight-figure deal, STXfilms has pre-bought North American, Latin American and Chinese distribution rights to the starry action thriller Gunpowder Milkshake, we can reveal.
Avengers and Jumanji star Karen Gillan leads the cast with Game of Thrones star Lena Headey, Oscar nominee Angela Bassett, Crazy Rich Asians star Michelle Yeoh, The Haunting of Hill House actress Carla Gugino, Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti and Big Little Lies and Avatar 2 child actor Chloe Coleman.
The pic tells the story of three generations of female assassins who fight to stop a cycle of violence over the course of one night. STX snapped up the movie after seeing it on promo during the European Film Market in Berlin.
The deal was negotiated by Studiocanal’s Anna Marsh, Anne Cherel and Sophie Leuthreau, with STX’s Jordan Lichtman and Carolyn Steinmetz and UTA Independent Film Group. The film now is sold out worldwide.
Written by Navot Papushado and Ehud Lavski and directed by Papushado, Gunpowder Milkshake was financed by Studiocanal and produced by Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman’s The Picture Company. Rona and Heineman were producers on Liam Neeson hits The Commuter and Non-Stop.
EFM Big Deal In The Works: Buyers Closing On World Rights To ‘Perfect’, In-Demand Olivia Wilde Movie About Olympic Champ – EFM
The movie marks Papushado’s first English-language film and his sophomore follow-up to Israeli breakout Big Bad Wolves, which played at festivals including Tribeca, Austin and Fantasia.
We understand there is a wide theatrical commitment in the U.S., and the movie will go through STX’s existing partners in Canada and Latin America and a partner distributor in China.
“Gunpowder Milkshake has found the perfect domestic distributor in STX,” said Marsh, the Studiocanal CEO. “Produced by our good partners Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman, this ambitious, high-octane action film boasts a top-class lineup of kick-ass and smart female talent who promise to light up audiences worldwide. Adam Fogelson and the team at STX has delivered time and again in this genre with hits such as Hustlers and more recently The Gentleman. Partnering with them on Gunpowder Milkshake will allow us to scale a first-class campaign firmly positioning our film as an event.”
Source: Deadline Hollywood
The English actress plays Princess Ciri on the Netflix fantasy hit.
CAA has signed The Witcher star Freya Allan, The Hollywood Reporter has exclusively learned.
The English actress plays princess Ciri in Netflix’s hit fantasy adaptation, one of the three leads alongside Henry Cavill’s Geralt and Anya Chalotra’s Yennefer. It’s her most notable role to date, having previously appeared in an episode each of AMC’s Into the Badlands and ITV’s miniseries The War of the Worlds.
Next, however, Allan will appear as the younger version of Karen Gillan’s character in StudioCanal’s actioner Gunpowder Milkshake, which features an all-star cast that includes Michelle Yeoh, Carla Gugino, Lena Headey and Angela Bassett. And after that, she’ll be seen opposite Jude Law in the HBO/Sky limited series The Third Day, which is produced by Sky Studios and Plan B.
Allan continues to be represented in the U.K. by Kirk Whelan-Foran at United Agents.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Netflix’s wonderfully entertaining fantasy series The Witcher does follow, obviously, a Witcher (Henry Cavill), but one of the joys of the show are the complex female leads that complete that main trio, Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) and Ciri (Freya Allen). When Collider sat down with Chalotra and Allen, we discussed the unique situations their characters find themselves in throughout season 1—they’re separate for the entire season—and how much they’re looking forward to finally interacting.
We also discussed how to sum up the show’s bonkers storyline (spoilers: you kind of can’t) as well as what they hope to bring to The Witcher‘s already-confirmed season 2.
Check out what they had to say in the player above, and below is exactly what we discussed. For even more on The Witcher, here is our full review of season 1, plus interviews with Henry Cavill and showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich.
Whether they’ve figured out a simple way to describe the complex story of The Witcher.
What specific aspect of The Witcher they focus on when they’re selling people on the show.
How they explored their characters being separated for the entire season, and how they’ve discussed the chemistry when they do eventually meet.
Yennefer’s fiery magical transformation in episode 3.
What they learned about their characters that they hope to take into season 2.
Here is the official synopsis for The Witcher:
Based on the best-selling fantasy series, The Witcher is an epic tale of fate and family. Geralt of Rivia, a solitary monster hunter, struggles to find his place in a world where people often prove more wicked than beasts. But when destiny hurtles him toward a powerful sorceress, and a young princess with a dangerous secret, the three must learn to navigate the increasingly volatile Continent together.
Show is being hailed as the ‘new Game of Thrones’
The Witcher star Freya Allen has spoken of how she was initially considered for an entirely different role in the forthcoming fantasy series.
The actor, who stars as princess Ciri in Netflix’s adaptation of the books by Andrzej Sapkowski, called her casting “bizarre and confusing” in an interview with Digital Spy.
“The whole audition process was very confusing, I must admit,” she said. “I never quite knew what was going on, or what was the truth, or what character I was really going up for, or what character – whether there were code names for characters.”
“I never really knew what was happening,” she continued. “I got given scenes, and I did them. But what I do know is that they told me I was Marilka, and then [casting director] Sophie Holland said to [writer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich] ‘I really think you should consider her for Ciri’, even though they were looking for younger people than me.
“So I found out I got Marilka. The next day they called me up saying. [director] Alik Sakharov and Lauren are coming with some producers from LA to London to see [you] for Ciri. I was like… I knew Ciri was the lead role.”
Allen says she went in the next day to find she had been given the part of Ciri: “I got there in the end.”
Marilka will be played by Mia McKenna-Bruce, while Henry Cavill stars as Geralt.
Early reactions to The Witcher have claimed the Netflix show’s fight scenes make Game of Thrones look “awful”.
Source: Independent UK
This week, Netflix is debuting the first season of The Witcher, based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s hit fantasy novels that inspired the best-selling video game series. While big-screen Superman Henry Cavill is taking on the title role as Geralt of Rivia, The Witcher is also widely known for its powerfully realized heroines: Princess Cirilla and Yennefer of Vengerberg.
For the series, Freya Allan is portraying Ciri while Anya Chalotra is playing Yennefer. Both actresses recently shared some insights into their respective heroines.
“At the start, [Ciri’s] got a lot of curiosity and a lot of drive and she wants to be involved,” said Allan. “But she has this beautiful kind of innocence to her, and naivete. When she’s thrown into this world that’s very brutal and new to her, she discovers so much and she experiences so much. She sees so many horrific things [that] you begin to see her build a little bit of a harder shell. She becomes a little bit colder because she has to detach herself from the things she’s feeling; otherwise she would just collapse. I think she’s begun to realize that she has to become more independent and that she can only trust herself in the world.”
According to Chaolotra, she took her cues as Yennefer from the original books.
“My source of information was the novels, and we worked at such a pace there wasn’t much rehearsal time,” noted Chaolotra. “You just have to trust your instinct and the way you empathize with the character in the situation. And other than that, just have a lot of conversations with the director and [showrunner] Lauren [Schmidt Hissrich], and each member of the cast who I was working with at that point to try and bring the best version Yennefer’s truth to the screen.”
As it turns out, both Allan and Chaolotra are huge Harry Potter fans, and they’ve got some intriguing house placements for Ciri, Yennefer, and even Geralt. But you’ll have to watch the full video to see their picks!
Anyone who’s got a Netflix subscription has probably seen teasers of the new original fantasy drama series called The Witcher, which begins streaming on December 20.
The show was created by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich (The West Wing, Daredevil) and based on the novels of Andrzej Sapkowski. It stars Henry Cavill (Man of Steel, Mission Impossible: Fallout) as mutant monster hunter Geralt of Rivia. Alongside him are Anya Chalotra (The ABC Murders, Wanderlust) as Yennefer of Vengerberg, the ambitious sorceress who pays a terrible cost for beauty and power, and Freya Allan (The War of the Worlds, Into the Badlands) as Princess Cirilla “Ciri” of Cintra, on the run from the forces that massacred her family and people.
Neither Yennefer nor Ciri is a shrinking violet, and while the actresses who play them are new to the industry, they have embraced the challenge of bringing two iconic, powerful women to life.
Cosmopolitan got the chance to talk to The Witcher’s female leads, and here’s what they had to say about the women they portray and their experience working with industry veterans Lauren Schmidt Hissrich and Henry Cavill.
Ciri and Yennefer are two strong women who persevere through very painful circumstances. Can you talk about how you see your character, her strengths, and the motivations?
Freya: What I love about Ciri is that you see her strength through how vulnerable she is, the fact that she has seen the most horrific things and experienced the most overwhelming amount of loss. And she’s going through the pain of that, yet she continues on, and that takes a huge amount of determination and drive and real strength.
But also, I think that you get to see her strength through how open-minded she is able to be and how gentle and kind she is, because she’s able to understand other people’s viewpoints and see the goodness in people despite the fact that they may have totally opposing views to hers…You see her strength through her vulnerability and how gentle she is.
Anya: For Yennefer, in this series, we see her discovering her powers. She discovers what those powers are, where they lie, where they’re from. And actually, in looking at her backstory and the tragic childhood she had, we learn that those insecurities and fears all feed this chaos inside her, which actually becomes a source of her power. And that becomes a strength.
Not only that, she’s very resilient, and I think that resilience mixed with all the suppression she’s had as a child and confusion and such an abusive upbringing make her one of the most powerful mages of the Continent. She also won’t take no for an answer, and she’s very unapologetic, and I think that’s a great strength of hers which she uses to her advantage.
For Anya, what do you think is the significance of Yennefer’s transformation, and how high was the price that she paid for that transformation?
Anya: It was a huge moment when she transforms because of the choice she makes and how in that moment, there is no going back. There’s no questioning what she will sacrifice to be the version of what society views as powerful and beautiful. And she learns later on what the consequences of that were.
She sacrifices so much. The event…[with] the baby is a huge turning point for her in the series, when she realizes that actually her goals are the same, to find true connection and unconditional love. But her attitude towards the institution and her views back then as a child have changed. She doesn’t want to be what society wants her to be.
How was the experience working with Henry, and how are we able to bond on the set? Did he give you some advice about acting?
Anya: It was a joy to work with him. He’s so humble, and from the moment I met him, he’s just very approachable and was so enthusiastic about working on The Witcher and playing Geralt and bringing it to life and us all joining forces to make this brilliant. So it was an absolute joy to work with him. And we obviously work together quite closely, so we had some really great times on set, and I look forward to working together again.
Freya: Yeah, he’s such a fan of The Witcher that it’s so clear how excited he is about it all. And it’s so nice to be around someone who was so excited despite having been in this world, in this industry, for so long. He has such excitement and passion for it, and he works so, so hard.
Also, we had some really, really great conversations where he talked me through things I was worrying about, with what happens after the show comes out. Because he started out acting when he was about 17, he knows how I could be feeling, and it’s been really nice to have that. He’s been really supportive. It’s great to have someone to speak to about things that I and other people in my life don’t know about, but he does because he’s very, very experienced within the industry and with dealing with everything that comes with it.
The Witcher is helmed by a woman, and women directed two and wrote five of the eight episodes in the season. How do you feel this contributed to how women are depicted on the show and your characters in particular?
Anya: I think Andrzej [Sapkowski], in the novels, wrote such strong characters. All the women had such strong attributes, and they have been developed by this incredible team. I mean, one of the reasons I wanted in on this project was because Lauren [Schmidt Hissrich] was running it! I was really excited to see what she was going to do, and the idea she had about developing Yennefer and Ciri, giving them storylines that were independent from Geralt’s. I think all the women’s voices within the writing room or the women creatives were to thank for the way these characters are portrayed in our series. It’s such a gift to have them working on this project.
Aside from what you guys play, who are your favorite characters?
Freya: Jaskier! Oh, because he is hilarious. I was watching one of the episodes last night, and I was literally in stitches. I replayed this clip about five times, I just couldn’t stop laughing. He’s like, ugh! He’s just brilliant.
Anya: Yeah, I would say the exact same thing. Jaskier’s a brilliant character, and Joey [Batey] brings him to life in a beautiful way. And he will touch hearts, he grows as a person and he will as Jaskier. Also, a dear character is Istredd and, oh, I could name a lot. Tissaia is wonderful, and I think the way they developed her character in the series is brilliant.
What did you do to prepare for your roles?
Anya: To prepare, I think before I got on set, I would read the script again and again and again. And new things came up every time, I became more familiar with the way Yennefer thought and how she responded. The others supported me when I was on set. Other than that, immediately before, I would make sure I walked as my character, that was huge. Costume and makeup, hair and prosthetics all helped me as well. So it would just be getting into a headspace. And I had a lot to help me with that.
Freya: I didn’t want to overprepare because I felt like I very naturally connected to Ciri and there were so many parallels that I could draw between us and our lives and the stages we are at in our lives. But before filming, depending on the scene, I would have a playlist that I would often listen to, but also, like Anya said, just sitting in the makeup chair and having them coat you in mud or whatever it is really kind of allowed you to get into the mind [for] whatever you were doing that day.
What were the traits of your characters you could relate to or feel connected to as you play those characters?
Freya: Ciri really values her voice and her opinions, and I’m exactly the same. That often comes with her being a bit stubborn as well, which I am also, definitely. And she’s also very determined and, same. There’s so many similarities between us, those are a few.
Anya: For Yennefer, I think her fearlessness and she will always find a way to get through, over the hurdle, to fight through that obstacle, and I’m exactly the same. I don’t take no for an answer, also exactly the same, and there’s a lot of things that also Yennefer’s brought out in me! I’ve got her to thank for a few things as well.
Season 1 of The Witcher begins streaming on Netflix on December 20, 2019.
*Answers have been edited for clarity.
Source: Cosmopolitan Philippines