It has been almost half a year since our last news roundup for Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher, though this is not due to a lack of news regarding the budding Netflix franchise. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will likely have heard of at least one of the many controversies that plagued the series and its sprawling fandom in the past few months, most important of which was the announcement that one of the show’s three lead stars, and certainly the most famous actor in the series, will be replaced after the third season concludes.
Liam Hemsworth will be stepping into Geralt’s Henry-Cavill-sized shoes for season four and any other that will follow. This particular announcement rocked the fandom and caused much drama that has now subsided. Still, amid Netflix’s most recent spree of cancellations, many of the show’s fans are questioning whether the show will have a future past Season 3. As it turns out, Netflix isn’t as worried, with a second live-action prequel already in pre-production and the main show’s next two seasons greenlit internally. We will cover all that and more in this roundup of news from the Continent.
- The Witcher Seasons 4 and 5 are still on track to be produced back-to-back
- “Rats” spinoff series has entered pre-production
- Introducing the Rats in The Witcher Season 3
- More Season 3 casting updates: Falka, Crach, and Rience
- Henry Cavill promises amazing action in Season 3 thanks to Blaviken fight choreographer
- Liam Hemsworth was a top contender for Geralt before Henry Cavill was cast
The Witcher Seasons 4 and 5 are still on track to be produced back-to-back
It was a few months ago, and not long before the shocking Henry Cavill news, that we had first reported that Netflix is planning to produce The Witcher’s fourth and fifth seasons back to back. Plans were still vaguely outlined at the time, but our sources had heard that the plan was to write seasons five immediately after writing the fourth, and possibly to film them back to back as well. Since then, we received confirmation that writing for Season 4 had indeed begun, and this was followed by an official confirmation from Netflix that The Witcher was renewed for a fourth season, with Liam Hemsworth replacing Henry Cavill as Geralt.
Five months later, we received an update from our sources, who were able to confirm that plans have not changed regarding The Witcher’s fourth and fifth seasons. This means that the recent controversies had no effect on the schedule or the plan to produce the two seasons back-to-back. Season 4 is still being written at this time, although the writers’ room is likely to soon transition to writing the fifth season. We have previously speculated that this could be a sign that Netflix is looking to conclude the main Witcher series after Season 5, although time will tell if that really is the case.
“Rats” spinoff series has entered pre-production
The Witcher’s first live-action spinoff series starring Michelle Yeoh, titled The Witcher: Blood Origin, was released in December and was rather poorly received by fans and critics. Netflix has not shared any details regarding viewership of the spinoff show, but the series has notably not reached a high placement on Netflix’s top ten list. Though it seems that Blood Origin was not as big a disappointment to Netflix as some fans believe, nor is it seen as proof that Netflix should stop growing The Witcher franchise with more spinoff films and shows. Much like seasons four and five of the main show, Netflix has so far chosen to move forward with the original plan, and that plan includes a rather surprising spinoff series currently being referred to as “Rats”.
We first reported that Netflix was planning the Rats spinoff back in November. Soon after, we reported that the spinoff was entering pre-production with showrunner Haily Hall, who had previously written episodes for all three seasons of The Witcher. Hall has also been a producer for the main show and worked closely with showrunner Lauren Hissrich throughout filming, so it’s safe to assume Hissrich has prepared her for the role. The spinoff is set to begin production in South Africa later this year, and will likely be released before The Witcher’s third and fourth seasons.
As the title of the show suggests, it appears that this prequel series will focus on the controversial band of teenage outlaws called the Rats, who will be introduced towards the end of Season 3 of The Witcher as part of Ciri’s storyline. The Rats have been officially described by Netflix as “a gang of misfit teenagers who steal from the rich and give to themselves – and sometimes the poor”. Time will tell how exactly the show will adapt this particular storyline and its characters, but we do know some of the cast members who have already filmed for Season 3.
Introducing the Rats in The Witcher Season 3
The first and most important is Mistle, who will be portrayed by Christelle Elwin (Half Bad and Bloods), the only member of the Rats who was officially announced by Netflix. In the announcement, Mistle was described as follows: “Mistle is a member of The Rats, a gang of misfit teenagers who steal from the rich and give to themselves – and sometimes the poor. She is street hard, suspicious of everyone and out for revenge, until a chance meeting that will change everything.”
The next few Rats members we have uncovered have not been confirmed officially by Netflix, so we don’t have character descriptions for them. Firstly, we have learned that Fabian McCallum who was most recently seen in the premiere episode of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, will portray the Rat Kayleigh, who is probably the most despised Rat by readers of Sapkowski’s novels. We have also learned that Juliette Alexandra (EastEnders, Tell Me Everything) will portray the Rat called Reef, and that Aggy K. Addams (Oh, Ramona!) will portray the elven Rat Iskra.
That leaves two roles that have yet to be confirmed: the Rats Asse and Giselher, the latter of whom is essentially the leader of the group. We have already found three potential suspects in Ash Rizi, Ben Radcliffe, and Connor Crawford, all of whom appeared to have ties with the show and specifically the Rats storyline in The Witcher’s third season. We will of course give an update regarding the two missing Rats when we can confirm these castings.
More Season 3 casting updates: Falka, Crach, and Rience
Besides the Rats castings, we uncovered most of the new cast members joining The Witcher in Season 3. We have published an extensive and rather long list featuring all of the new cast members on Redanian Intelligence, but for the purpose of this roundup we have chosen to focus on three of them.
The first is the casting of Hiftu Quasem (Killing Eve) as the legendary Witcher character Falka. Falka has already been mentioned several times in the main Witcher series, a menacing historical figure responsible for the bloody wars titled “Falka’s Rebellion”. Falka is set to appear in Season 3 exactly as she has in the novel Time of Contempt, during a vision Ciri sees at the desert. Falka is an agent of Chaos, and so it may not surprise some to learn that Quasem, who will portray Falka in Season 3, has already lent her voice to a character associated with Chaos magic in the prequel show The Witcher: Blood Origin. The character was some sort of spirit of Chaos magic, which may also be related to Falka and Ciri in future seasons.
The next two castings are different in that, unlike the others we discussed, these castings are of characters we have already met in previous seasons of The Witcher. The first is Sam Woolfe (The Crown), who will be replacing Chris Fulton in the role of Rience, the fire-wielding villainous mage introduced in Season 2. This recasting was the result of scheduling difficulties, with Fulton already committing to a villainous lead role in the coming season of Outlander. Next is a character loved by players of The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt, Crach an Craite. A young Crach appeared in the first season of the show, portrayed by Blair Kincaid, but seeing as the show has skipped twenty years ahead a recasting of the role seems reasonable. In Season 3, Crach will be portrayed by Johannes Haukur Johannesson, known for his roles in Vikings: Valhalla, The Last Kingdom, and Game of Thrones.
Henry Cavill promises amazing action in Season 3 thanks to Blaviken fight choreographer
Though Henry Cavill is exiting The Witcher and the role of Geralt of Rivia, we still have one more season to enjoy his iconic portrayal. As it turns out, this season will include a lot of fight scenes, many of which have been choreographed by legendary fight-scene coordinator Wolfgang Stegemann, and Henry Cavill himself praised Stegemann’s work in Season 3.
Speaking to Josh Horowitz in a live recording for his Happy Sad Confused podcast, Henry Cavill was asked about The Witcher Season 3. Henry replied that he couldn’t say much, but teased the action sequences in the new season. “What I can tell you is that I was working with Wolfgang Stegemann again. You will know his work from Mission Impossible and also from the Blaviken fight scene, which is episode one, season one.”
Henry revealed that Stegemann’s role was much larger in Season 3 than in the first season: “We got to do a whole season together and working with Wolfie is amazing. He is such an extraordinary stunt coordinator, very close friend, so talented. There’s a lot of action in Season 3. We got an awful lot together. Sometimes by the skin of our teeth and working miracles, but we got it done and we hope that you guys enjoy our work, because Wolfie really is the best.”
As always, we can add a bit more behind-the-scenes details that we have uncovered from our various sources. We have learned that Stegemann’s role wasn’t even more significant than Cavill lets on, as Stegemann served as Second Unit Director for some fight scenes as well. A second unit director will fill in for an episode’s director when two scenes from the same episode are shot at the same time. So in this case, Stegemann was the leading crew member for the duration of a fight scene that involves Henry Cavill’s Geralt and Graham McTavish’s Dijkstra (book readers will know the one). This particular scene will appear in the sixth episode of the upcoming season.
Liam Hemsworth was a top contender for Geralt before Henry Cavill was cast
Now that some months have passed since the announcement of Henry Cavill’s exit, it’s time to talk a little bit more about the actor who will next assume the role of Geralt of Rivia. Following the announcement, we did some digging and our sources told us that Liam Hemsworth was among the frontrunners for the role of Geralt of Rivia back in 2018, when the role was initially being cast. Also on the shortlist, allegedly, was Sebastian Stan.
This means the casting team did not need to look far and wide for a replacement for Henry Cavill. Instead, they returned to the archive of casting tapes and auditions and certainly to their shortlist of top choices, and from that list, they decided to cast Liam Hemsworth in the role. All of this was done sometime in the second half of Summer 2022, when Season 3 of The Witcher was still in production, so quite a long time before the announcement. This allowed Netflix to make the necessary arrangements discreetly and prepare as best as they could to announce Cavill’s exit.
Looking to the future, it will be interesting to see if and how the show will address the replacement of one of its three leads. It will also be interesting to see what Hemsworth will bring to the role come Season 4.
Before we wrap up this particular news roundup, we must address the question that must be bothering all Witcher fans who have read this article: When will we next see The Witcher content on Netflix? The next installment in the franchise is the much-anticipated third season which will also serve as Henry Cavill’s “heroic sendoff,” according to showrunner Lauren Hissrich.
So when will Season 3 be released? According to the showrunner, we can expect Season 3 to release around July or August of 2023. That means we’re just half a year away.