10 secrets from The Witcher s2 set

Photo credit: JAY MAIDMENT - Netflix
Photo credit: JAY MAIDMENT - Netflix

If you've been patiently awaiting the arrival of The Witcher season 2 then we've got some very good news, as the second series is officially arriving on Netflix on 17 December!

So, with only days to go until we rejoin Geralt of Rivia and the rest of the Continent, there's lots to look forward to.

Ahead of the new series, Cosmopolitan UK caught up with lead cast members Freya Allan, Kim Bodnia, Joey Batey, Anya Chalotra and series Executive Producer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich to spill their behind-the-scenes filming secrets from the The Witcher set. Thought you knew everything there is to know about the series? Think again...

1. The cast were keen to get into the medieval time setting

Yep, the medieval setting of the show means the behind-the-scenes reality isn't quite as glamorous as you'd expect. "We were constantly muddy and cold," explained Joey Batey, who plays bard Jaskier, adding, "So that's pretty medieval, isn't it?"

"I did ask for some actual medieval mead or wine to drink at some point," he continued. "But they didn't give it to me. I was so gutted ... Next season. Just going to be drunk the whole time," he joked.

Meanwhile, Freya Allan who plays Princess Ciri in the show shared how she gets into the zone, saying, "I listen to some soundtracks from other fantastical movies or TV shows, sometimes, just to get me in the vibe, get me in the mood."

2. Joey Batey could already play the lute before getting the role of Jaskier

Ever wondered whether Jaskier aka actor Joey Batey is really playing the lute in the show? Turns out the answer is yes.

"I actually learnt the lute before the show even started," Joey explained. "It was for a job years ago, actually. And I learnt the lute for a completely different thing, and so when the audition process came through and they were like, 'Can we get a guy who plays the lute?' And I'm pretty sure I'm the only guy in London who could."

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

"I'm not a professional lutenist by any stretch of the imagination, but I can definitely muddle my way through," he continued, laughing, "I can do some 'Play Wonderwall!' and that tends to happen on set a lot."

3. The producers read fan theories about the show

When it comes to fan theories, The Witcher has *plenty*, and producers have revealed that they actually do read them.

Executive producer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich explained, "I love to interact with fans online, especially on Twitter or Instagram. I’m really active. Sometimes I will read their theories of how things connect. I’ve actually read articles before which is like ‘here’s what we think is going to happen’. I thought ‘really? That’s crazy.’"

"We never let it inform our storytelling, she continued. "But it is just sort of fun to see how … basically how passionate the fans are about this world, that they are sort of stringing their own stories together and their own theories. It’s incredible."

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

4. The cast tried to make each other laugh on set

With the cast getting back together on set post-lockdown, it seems there was lots of fun to be had.

"We were just always laughing and joking," Freya shared.

Meanwhile, Joey explained how he and lead actor Henry Cavill tried to make each other laugh during filming, revealing, "Henry tries to get me … I always try and get him in a scene, usually on wides or … big wide shots where we couldn’t quite notice it.

"I’m almost certain there is one scene in season 2 where you can see me laughing at something that he’s done, ‘cos he’s like turned away from the camera and pulled a funny face, and for some reason the editors have kept it in. And I’m like, ‘fair enough, yeah great’."

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

5. Actors have to imagine CGI monsters during filming

The Witcher features its fair share of monsters, with CGI meaning actors are often left imagining the creature in their heads while on set.

"You just let you imagination run wild," explained Anya Chalotra who plays Yennefer.

"It's like being a child again. Everyone's got a different version of the monster in their head and that's quite funny when you actually see the monster, and it's like 'well, I don't know what I was running from but it wasn't that,'" she laughed. "Yeah, so it's always fun."

6. There were multiple injuries on (and off) set

Lots of stunts mean a handful of injuries too, with the cast revealing that accidents happened both on and off set.

"Henry [Cavill] pulled a hamstring," Anya revealed, while Joey added, "He really hurt his leg."

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Plus, there were off-set injuries too, with Joey explaining "Kim [Bodnia] sliced his hand open the day before a fight scene ... He was just cooking, and then he turned up on set and didn't tell anyone.

"The only reason we all noticed was because he had blood on the hilt of his sword. And then everyone went, 'You can't do this, Kim.' Because he was just so determined, so excited to do fight scenes."

Erm, ouch.

7. The cast collaborated with costume designer, Lucinda Wright, on how they wanted to look

As well as epic stunts and CGI, The Witcher's costumes are also *amazing*.

The cast opened up about costume designer Lucinda Wright's input, with Joey explaining, "I mean she [Lucinda] is just so open to ideas and for input as well ... We all turned up after having shot season one with so many ideas. We wanted to be involved.

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

"So I turned up and said, 'Can I have a long swishy coat please?' and 'I've brought my own necklace, can we have that'. And she was like, 'Yeah!' and took all my ideas and then actually made them good. I got to really have that dialogue, and she does that with everyone. It must be exhausting."

8. Freya Allan was originally cast in a much smaller part

While Freya Allan is now (obviously) perfect in the role of Ciri, it turns out she was originally cast in a much smaller part.

"We had a lot of trouble finding Ciri," producer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich told us. "She was originally written as an 11-year-old girl, and we looked and looked and looked, and then we started to think about the production restraints for shooting with a child, basically, and how much it would limit the hours on set.

"And so we started looking older and I just wasn’t finding anyone I liked. And Sophie Holland who’s our casting director said, ‘I want you to look at someone that we’ve already cast’. And we had actually cast Freya Allan as a one-episode part named Marilka. She literally … she interacted with Geralt, it was one scene and then she was done."

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Lauren continued, "Freya will tell you that she was called back in and she was like, ‘I don’t understand. Did I lose a part? Are you calling me back in to fire me?’ And she showed up that day in like a striped t-shirt and baggy jeans, and she was a kid. And yet she had such soul. And we literally read one scene, we thanked her. I’m sure she thought that she had messed everything up. And we cast her that day."

9. The cast made a few mistakes on set

Of course, mistakes happen on set - and The Witcher is no exception.

Describing a tiny mishap from co-star Kim Bodnia, Freya told us, "I was on an obstacle course, and it's the big dramatic moment where Geralt, Vesemir and Coen walk in. And they're seeing that Ciri's doing this obstacle course, and it's a big moment shot of them."

"Kim hadn't clocked the note that they were meant to look at a green mark, rather than actually look at me," she continued. "And so when it came to the shot, Kim was just looking in the complete wrong direction compared to Henry and Yas. And it was just quite funny really.

"Then it meant I had to do it again ... I was trying to give them something to react to, so I was doing this like jumping onto these things. And because of Kim looking in the bloody wrong direction ... He wasn't listening, is the problem. Unprofessional," she joked.

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

10. Season 3 has already been confirmed, and we can expect big things

Yep, in case all the excitement around season 2 wasn't enough, The Witcher season 3 has officially been confirmed!

"All I know is that I’m incredibly excited to start it, really," Joey told us, while Anya added, "We know where it’s headed."

"Yeah, we know some of the beats," Joey continued, "and Lauren [Schmidt Hissrich] is guiding this ship with such kindness … and collaborative spirit. Yeah, we’re all kind of raring to go."

Revealing more details about what we can expect from season 3, producer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich explained, "Not only has work already started, the writers’ room is almost finished."

She went on, "Season 3 is really fun because it’s based on my favourite book on the series, which is the Time of Contempt. In fact, a lot of stuff that we’re doing in season 2 has really been the work of setting up that season. And there are huge things that happen. And a lot of people die. It is a big turning point, both for our series and storytelling, but also just in the Continent itself."

We can't wait!

Watch The Witcher season 2 from 17 December on Netflix.

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