At a recent press junket for The Witcher Season 2, Lauren S. Hissrich sat down and chatted with a bunch of us journalists. She answered questions about bringing in new characters, the challenges of COVID and the joy of visualising especially wild stories from the source material.
“So heading into season two, we wanted to take those fans and make sure that we were rewarding them for watching those eight episodes for you know, sticking with the season, even though I think there were some problems in season one, and making sure that they wanted to continue joining us for the ride in season two. To me, part of that is making sure that there’s not too much time between season one and season two, making sure that we’re continuing that momentum. COVID had a very different idea of what that was going to look like.”
“And we had shot Season Two for about three weeks. When we shut down, we took about a five-month shut down. And that was really difficult for everyone. I mean, as it was for everyone in the world, um, you know, for us creatively, it was stopping the show in progress. And hoping that by the time everyone returned, that we could still be making the same show, even though our environment has shifted. Creatively, I have to say, there was some found time in there for me because I had the opportunity to read all eight scripts together. And to make sure that we were one telling the right stories, to telling them in the right way, and making sure that we really were we’re growing parts of season one and exploring them in season two.”
I myself got to ask Lauren about some of the new characters entering The Witcher Season 2 and she loved discussing these new individuals introduced to the audience. These new characters include the tragic figure that is Nivellen played by Kristofer Hivju and the monstrous Rience played by Chris Fulton.
Beauty and the Beast
“Thank you. I love that question. Especially because of the two characters that you picked out. The journey toward Nivellen was a really interesting one because I remember sitting with the writers and A Grain of Truth was one of those short stories that I loved and really wanted to return to at some point, we didn’t have the time in season one for it.”
“But I remember saying to our production team, this is going to be something that we have not tried to achieve before, which is sort of this level of, VFX, and sort of the meshing of the prosthetics world, the VFX world and then obviously an amazing actor. The thing that we knew that we wanted, when we hired Kristofer Hivju to play Nivellen, is to maintain as much of his performance as we could. And it’s one of the things that I think we have some cool behind the scenes, material that shows the progress of Nivellen, from what Kristofer looks like on set to where we ended up.”
“And his eye movement and his facial movements are all there. That’s something that I thought ILM did an amazing job at sort of translating that he had a sort of camera mounted on his face that captured every little tick every little, you know, sort of wink of an eye or movement of a mouth and he came to life. Um, you know, that impacts our storytelling, because I think specifically with that story. He is so he’s such an empathetic character. At the very beginning, he is so warm, he clearly has a dark past. And yet, he seems to own it. And therefore he is ready and willing to just sort of bring Ciri and Geralt to his story and then that twist at the end is it’s still heartbreaking to me as a viewer.”
The cold-blooded pyromancer
“Rience I think was a really interesting character to portray as well because he is in The Witcher world I find him one of the most cold-blooded there is. There is not any that I can find redeeming characteristics in him. And yet we cast a character actor like Chris Fulton, who is not over the top. In fact, he’s very reserved and withdrawn and that allows us to pair that performance with some of the bigger visuals that you’re talking about, which is a lot of throwing fire and lighting people on fire. And I think had he have been more theatrical those visuals wouldn’t have worked as well. So I think it’s that contrast that really is great.”
The Witcher Season 2 is out on the 17th of December so get ready for a monstrously good time on The Continent with Geralt and Ciri.