After months of being teased, the first-ever footage of Netlfix’s Witcher show debuted during the series’ panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2019. A teaser shown before the panel began was brief, but it was followed by several other clips that provided the first glimpse of the highly anticipated show.
The clips included looks at several familiar characters, including Yennefer, Ciri, and of course, the Witcher himself, Geralt. The scale of the show looks incredible, with massive battles teased in the footage, the first of which opened with the quote, “The only certainty on this continent of monsters and mutants is that no one is ever what they seem.”
And, fortunately, the footage included a brief peek at what appeared to be an iconic scene that may or may not involve Geralt taking a bath.
A second clip showed off a fight scene in a banquet hall. During the panel, Henry Cavill emphasized that whenever Geralt is on the screen, it’s him you’re seeing–including during action scenes.
The panel itself included adapter and showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, as well as actors Freya Allan (Ciri), Anya Chalotra (Yennefer), and Henry Cavill (Geralt).
Hissrich said 207 actors auditioned for the role of Geralt, but Cavill’s voice is the one she kept hearing in her head.
“There was something about Geralt that really struck a chord with me,” Cavill said.
Hissrich also teased which of the Witcher’s many stories the show will be based on–she said she read “The Last Wish,” the character’s first collection of short stories, and was asked by Netflix to adapt that specifically.
“I read The Last Wish, is where I started, and I absolutely fell in love with the short stories,” the showrunner said. “And Netflix came to me and asked me if I’d want to adapt it. I said no–that I was a huge fan, but I didn’t think I was the right person to adapt a fantasy show.”
She was eventually convinced. “What’s great about The Witcher is that it’s much more than a fantasy,” Hissrich continued. “You’ll get your monsters, you’ll get your magic, you’ll get sorcerers and sex and violence and all that stuff…everything you want. But really it’s a story about a family, and that’s what I thought that I could bring to it.”
Chalotra discussed Yennefer’s role in the Netflix show. “Yennefer is on a journey of self-discovery,” the actress said. “I think what’s great about our story is we look at not only her power, but her vulnerabilities, and together that makes her the ultimate survivor. I’d say her overall goal is to find true connection and an unconditional love, which she’s never experienced.”
A third clip showed off one of Yennefer’s scenes–and a disturbing one at that. The sorceress sat on a beach talking to a dead baby. “I’m sorry you didn’t have a life, but truth be told, you’re not missing much,” she says. She seems extremely bitter, discussing in a very one-sided monologue how parents, friends, and everything else about life is basically pointless, especially for girls and women. “Even when we’re told we’re special, as I was–as you would have been–we’re still just vessels for them to take and take until we’re empty and alone.”
“So count yourself lucky,” Yennefer finishes. “You’ve cheated the game and won without even knowing it.” She buries the corpse in the sand.
Judging by these clips, it seems the writing will match the tone of the original books and games in many ways. Fans should be happy with what’s been shown so far.
“I’ve always wanted to be in some fantasy epic,” Freya Allan, who plays Ciri, said. “It was like a dream role for me.”
She didn’t have much specific to tease about her role, but she did describe her overall arc. “[Ciri’s story] is a journey of development and discovery and she’s constantly in flux throughout the season,” Allan continued.
In a Ciri-focused clip, the character walked through a snowy, creepy forest and glimpsed a golden light shining from the other side of a ridge. She’s quickly surrounded by a group of menacing elves holding spears. She pleads not to be hurt, and they beckon her to follow them. She says she needs to find “Dara,” a character unknown in the books or games.
Hissrich said she was excited to bring the female characters’ backstories to life, revealing that the three main characters will begin the series in separate places before coming together. “I think it’s one of my favorite parts of the series, is that–I would call it an addition to the books,” she said. “We really..honored that source material, but we were able to give the characters a little more breathing room, and really get to know them, before these three characters eventually meet up.”
Cavill also discussed his horse, Roach, an important element of his character.
“She’s the one source of humanity left [to him], because the rest of the world hates him and hates everything he does,” Cavill said. “She’s the one access point he has to humanity.”
Hissrich teased a “long soliloquy” Cavill delivers to Roach in one episode she wrote. She said Roach is the “one person–one horse?–[Geralt] feels like he can be himself in front of.”
The panel’s final clip appeared to be a full trailer [update: watch it above!]. It explains the backstory of the elves, who taught humans to use magic, and were then betrayed and “slaughtered” by humans. When one character asks Geralt whether life is just about “monsters and money,” he replies, “That’s all it needs to be.” We also glimpse Yennefer’s transformation from a disfigured young woman into the beautiful sorceress we know her as.
With the first trailer finally released online, fans of the Witcher books and games can now judge for themselves whether Netflix’s adaptation will do the series justice. Either way, we’re eagerly awaiting The Witcher’s release date later in 2019.