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[Table] r/wiedzmin — Netflix’s Witcher’s showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich answers your questions right now!

Source
To alleviate any confusion, despite the answerer promising:
Okay, guys, thank you for the amazing questions, the civil debate, and for not once calling me a moron. I averaged 3 minutes an answer, went over by a full hour, and still only got to about 10% of the questions.
Here's what I will do: I will keep coming back. Consider it an extended AMA, or... I guess it's just called a discussion? I will continue to answer questions in order, as I have the time. If I'm not around as much, it's because I'm actually working on S2. But I like it here, and will come back.
Keep being you.
The AMA was flaired closed so it was tabled as-is.
Questions Answers
Hi Lauren, thank you very much for beeing here. I have a few questions regarding the representation of Nilfgaard. I think it´s ok to show them as the bad guys for the first season, especially from the perspective of the Northern Kingdoms. But Nilfgaard is an civilized and advanced empire in the books, while its soldiers in the show act more like fanatical religious zealots from some theocratic monarchy. There is no doubt that Nilfgaard is one of the big antagonists in the Witcher saga, but in my opinion they are far more than just an evil empire. And it bothers me a lot that Cahir acts like a psychopath in the Doppler scenes. Of course, he has his dark sides in the books too, but he would never slaughter dozens of civilians. So, will we get a better and differentiated insight into Nilfgaard and its representatives in the future seasons? I still enjoyed the show. ;) Greetings from Germany! Short answer: YES! For the longer answer, see this answered below. :)
You have said before that the writers wanted to make Geralt more active and less reactive. What was the rationale behind this change? It seems like a very purposeful one, considering one of his characteristic qualities is his passivity(or what he calls neutrality when it comes to politics) that comes back to bite him in the ass several times as seen for example when he accepts Ciri too late in Something More, and how he holds on to it in The Lesser Evil and is only forced to react by Renfri. The characters and even Geralt himself talk about it in no subtle terms, he refuses to participate in the grander scheme and prefers to react to everything instead as he says to Vilgefortz. And this attitude carries itself throughout his actions and not just when it comes to politics, and it's one of the major aspects of his character subjected to development over the course of the narrative. He is like the opposite of Yennefer in this aspect, who is very "active". So, what drove this purposeful change? This is a really tough one, and I fully get the critique. I also don't know why it works so well in the books, because every bit of logic tells you that if given the choice between following the journey of an active character or a passive character, active is going to be more interesting.
What I can say is this: Geralt is, as you say, mostly passive in Eps 101 and 102. He doesn't want to get involved. He calls for neutrality. When we got to Ep 103, we made the choice to have Geralt go to Temeria to see Foltest because -- honestly -- we felt like audiences might lose interest in him.
Also, the reason we gave Jaskier the line in Ep 104 about getting involved is that it is an irony of the books: Geralt always says he's going to stay neutral. He rarely does. As set up in The Lesser Evil, he does eventually always make a choice.
Lauren, I would like to ask you three questions regarding the depiction of Nilfgaard (no, I won't ask about the armors). What made you decide to make them religious zealots? In the books, they were not driven by religion - Nilfgaardians wanted more territory, labour force and natural resources. It was quite simple and understandable motivation. Eternal Empire was, above else, disciplined, efficient, economically powerful and, in fact, much more "civilised" than Northern Kingdoms. Of course, Great Sun cult was important, but priests and religious fanatics didn't have much power in Nilfgaard. So why? "The White Flame" - is it still just Emhyr var Emreis' cognomen (I hope so!) or will you make White Flame central figure/deity of Nilfgaardian religion, replacing Great Sun ? Or maybe Emhyr is worshipped as a god? It wasn't very clear to me in the show. Are we going to see Emhyr in next season? Thanks a lot for answers! You'll have to wait and see on Emhyr!
And I answered Nilfgaard more below. The White Flame is still simply a nickname.
the question below has been split into a few parts
First I want to thank you for doing this at all, it's not at all taken for granted and all power to you for caring and at least listening. Now, I'm sure everyone here will ask you specific questions on why change this and why add that and so on, but my question I think will summarise what made this season mediocre. TL;DR- Why did you decide not to adapt the story of the books, but rather try and write a better one yourself using the books as a basis? If you dispute that you did this and have time to read, I'll explain my meaning. 1. The first two books as we know are short story collections, however you decided telling short stories is not good enough to adapt for TV and rather tried to connect them and create some sort of a season stretching story, why? What is the problem with telling self contained stories in each episode of the season? Shows like Black Mirror have completely different stories with different characters each episode and do just fine, why can't the first 1-2 seasons of The Witcher be what the first 1-2 books of the series were? Self contained stories that build up the characters and the world slowly but powerfully. I will try to summarize my thoughts briefly, because these are big questions. But they're important questions. I don't think we've created a "better" story at all. What we tried to do is adapt the short stories as Sapkowski wrote them, to an entirely different medium. Shows like Black Mirror are episodic, as you point out, and not serialized. That works because Black Mirror will never become serialized. There is no bait-and-switch in season four, where you suddenly start following one single character episode after episode; if that happened, the built-in audience for Black Mirror would be confused. The rule with television is: the first episode has to represent what the series will be. That's how television is sold (ie, the studio that's footing the 100 million dollar bill knows what they're purchasing) and it's how television is marketed (ie, the audience that shows up knows what they'll be tuning in to watch for the next year or two or seven.)
2. Moreover, the first two books had only Geralt as a main character, but again, you decided that story is not good enough to adapt and 3 main characters are required, why? They worked just fine with only Geralt (and to a certain extent Dandelion) being the main character, what's wrong with that? Again, why try to write a better story in your opinion rather than adapt the books? You said in earlier comments that you didn't trust the viewers to care about Ciri (and I guess to a greater extent Yen) if you don't introduce them right away, but again, why? Did book readers not care about Ciri since she was only introduced in The Sword of Destiny? Why is that story not good enough to adapt in your opinion? Once again, other shows got away with much more than that, for example The Walking Dead's Negan was introduced in Season 6 (!), what's so bad about introducing a main character in S2? I could go on and on about the changes to Cahir and Vilgerfortz and so on but this comment is already too long and I hope my point came across as is. As a sidenote, an extension of this question would be, are you planning to keep on doing this? For example after Thanedd Yennefer disappears for an entire book, are you going to come up with your own story to keep her included in places she wasn't (and thus cutting time from Geralt and Ciri)? The same goes for the characters. Yes, you can always introduce more characters as you go along in a show. We'll be doing that as well -- there's a whole new set of fun characters coming in S2. But it was important to me that from the very beginning, the audience know that this story is about Geralt, yes, but it's also about Yennefer and about Ciri and -- most importantly -- about what happens when they find each other and become a family.
I want to ask about plans for Ciri's relationships in future seasons. Since show-Ciri is older than book-Ciri, she will probably be around fifteen or sixteen (so almost an adult) when she meets Yennefer. And while an orphaned twelve-year-old forming a mother-daughter relationship with a teacher feels very natural, it doesn't feel that realistic with this older Ciri. Also, since we got to see Yen's school-years, she feels much more youthful than in the books. Triss, on the other hand, was introduced as an adult woman. Ciri-Triss being a sisterly relation, while Ciri-Yen are mother and daughter is definitely gonna be harder to pull off in that situation (and, honestly, Anya's and Anna's compared looks won't make it any easier) Okay, I finished with my essay ;-), here's my actual question - have you given this any thought? Do you have a plan on how to alter those relationships? Or maybe you just want to go with the book characterization and you're sure Anya's and Freya's acting skills are enough to make it feel right? You hit the nail on the head -- we've hired incredibly strong actors who can pull this off. One of my favorite things about Anya is she IS incredibly maternal. She's that way to me, and I'm 15 years older than her. It's not about age. It's about how we show this level of caretaking, this sisterhood, and this maternal instinct.
In the books, Geralt has no trouble communicating and will very often trade words with all manner of people on various topics. Vilgefortz, meeting Geralt, notes that he thinks of him as too well-read for someone in his situation in life. Why was this aspect of Geralt ignored in favor of a seemingly endless stream of “hmm” and “fuck”? Geralt is incredibly talkative in the books. It worked a lot of the time for me, but I do remember reading Voice of Reason and thinking, "At some point, wouldn't Iola ignore her vow of silence and tell him to stop talking so much?"
In the first episode, Geralt did speak a lot. We ended up cutting a lot of his dialogue because once we had it on its feet, it didn't feel real, or how a person would actually talk. Henry and I worked intensely together to make sure he seems incredibly smart, still has his dry wit, and can still hold his own with Calanthe and others -- but also like he seems like a person who doesn't always want to be a part of the conversation, or to let others into his every thought.
the question below has been split into a few parts
1. Can you tell us something about reshoots of episode 1? Are you able to give us some details why it had to happen and whether the pieces that were cut could affect the perception of the characters presented? Reshoots happen for a million reasons. In this case, there were pieces of the first episode that weren't coming together for me. We had shot flashbacks of Renfri's youth, for instance, that were overly confusing (adding in yet another timeline, ha), so those were lost. But when they were lost, we then lost some of the nuance of Renfri in present day, so we wanted to add a bit more to those scenes to flesh them out. And the final fight between them wasn't as emotional as we needed it to be -- it didn't carry the right weight yet. These are the growing pains of making a show -- learning what works and doesn't. For instance, learning from that in S2, the scripts are now MUCH shorter -- so we're not having to cut down the product in editing as much.
2. Did you consider at some point using another actress as little Ciri to present flashbacks or something related to 'Sword of destiny'? We haven't thought about Ciri flashbacks yet, but nothing is out of the question. :)
Hi! Two quick questions: 1) In your post about the pitch for the show you said that in the finale Yen is blinded (as in the books) but we just saw her bleeding from her eyes and disappearing due to the amount of magic she used. So will we see her blind indeed? 2) The books are a huge source material, can you explain how you decide what to include in the series and what not? Thank you for this first season. Knowing this complex story from the books, I really look forward to watch it unfolding on screen, so many great moments to look forward to (is there a chance to see “dear friend” letter and Yen saving Jaskier in S2?). Greetings from Italy I can't spoil S2! So you'll have to wait on the Yen question. But -- the story will be much more linear, now that the three characters' stories have started to intersect.
Could you please reconsider adding Jaskier's bonnet? Maybe not having it in the first season is a good decision, to make adding it in Season 2 show his growth and evolution as a bard. If you think it doesn't fit like you thought in the first season then maybe giving him some facial hair or something will make it fit? And also a sign of how much time had passed since he last saw Geralt. Ah, yes, the hat! It was made, we tried it on Joey, and we couldn't stop laughing. Will we try again? Sure. Nothing is impossible. And yes, we dropped the ball on aging him up over the course of the show. It's hard to show the passage of time when everyone looks the same, so we'll be approaching that differently in S2.
Dear Lauren, thank you for making a fun show. Question: As a showrunner, if you agree with any of the critique on the quality of the show’s writing (clunky dialogue, too much exposition, overuse of certain words, etc) what sort of changes are you able to make in your process or your team structure to improve quality of writing in season 2 without breaking the hearts of your writers? To clarify: How do you reward the writers that delivered a high level of craft and how do you improve the ones that didn’t? Do you hire new people? Do you establish more checks and balances from outside the team? The checks and balances system includes me, the executives at Netflix, and the producers, who all offer notes on every part of the process: outline, script, and cuts. What happens between seasons is that we look at all of the episodes and discuss internally what worked and what didn't -- when we thought we needed exposition, for instance, but turns out that it came across clunky. And then we course-correct.
We're all professionals. There's no heartbreak. We constantly want to improve.
the question below has been split into a few parts and answer reshuffled
1. Why was it decided not to explain how the Witcher's potions work and what kind of magic he has? And we decided to save some tidbits of witcher lore until... you actually meet more witchers. :)
2. Making such a big show is a long process. Can we expect a new season at least every 1.5 years? We don't yet have a target launch date for S2, past 2021. We don't want to rush the product. That doesn't benefit anyone.
Hi Lauren :) I personally think you did a good job with the first season. However, I want to know if you plan on being more faithful to the books now that you're going into the saga? Also, whose decision was it to make the season only 8 episodes rather than, say, 10 or 12? The number of episodes is based on the story we're telling, our sense of what an audience will watch (and finish), and the budget. When you're starting a show, and don't know if it will be a success, more episodes generally means that you get to spend less money on every episode. So we knew we didn't want to do that. Eight felt like the magic number.
We're approaching S2 in a similar way we did with S1: what are the stories Sapkowski was telling, and why? What building blocks do we need to set up future stories? Is there anything we missed from S1 that we want to include? And what will work on television? For instance -- no one wants to see Triss have diarrhea for three episodes. So what are we trying to glean from that in the books, and how do we present that onscreen?
What was the showing trying to convey with Vilgefortz's last scene (where he smashes a dying sorcerer's(?) head in)? Love the show Lauren, great job to you and everyone who worked on the show. I don't agree with every change you made, but I feel so blessed to have been able to watch it! Ohhhh Vilgefortz. There's much more to be learned about this particular sorcerer, and I don't want to spoil that -- but I will say that his temper is covering a great amount of frustration at things not going his way.
Hello Lauren and welcome back! One of my favorite aspects of The Witcher short stories are the monsters, however, Sapkowski tends to leave out a lot of details about what they look like in the books. What was the decision process for the final design of the monsters for your show? Were there multiple designs for each monster and everyone voted or what? There's no official voting process, but we have a creature concept designer who works off the original material, and then consults with me and Tomek Baginski -- we constantly are honing our vision until we're all happy. We also have to keep in mind whether the monster is going to be portrayed by an actor, with prosthetics, or in CGI -- that changes its design immensely.
Lauren, did you ever consider a storytellenarrator for the time jumps? To elaborate a little more. : What i envision is (first scene of s01e01) a camera showing a countryside tavern on a raining evening, and slowly entering trough a window. Showing a rough carved wooden table with a mysterious/sinister person (a bard) in the corner, lighted by dim candlelight and surrounded by interested peasants. Than in the spirit of "let me tel you a story" and introduction is given by the bard and the kikimora fight starts. Now when a time jump happens, insert a cut scene of this mysterious bard (or his voice) clarifying the time jump. Storytelling (the books) and bards play a prominent role, and this could maybe deepen the immersion? Another plus, it could create some creative control, that can help as a problem solving tool. Give it some thoughts. :) There's a theory that The Witcher books are all "told" by our narrator, Jaskier. It's an interesting thought, and we do try to include his commentary on Geralt's adventures, via his songs. But we purposefully didn't want someone constantly explaining what we're about to see, and why. It was clearly a controversial choice!
Are we going to delve more into the lore of non-human races in later seasons? As a gnome enthusiast, I'm personally hoping to see some gnome characters, as they were totally absent in the video games. Points for being a gnome enthusiast. :) Yes, we'll continue to meet and see other non-humans in future seasons.
Thanks for doing this! 1) Ok, I have a question about the hottest topic probably – diversity. You could honestly learn from Game of Thrones on how to nail diversity in a medieval fiction. POC in GOT never felt as forced casting. They represented different culture of Westeros like Naath, Sothoryos, Dothraki. What you guys did on the other hand, is randomly throwing around POC here and there with no origins or background. There are nonwhite cultures in the books like Ofir, Zangvebar etc. Why not just explore them and have POC represent these nations instead of just building modern day Brooklyn into medieval fantasy? Furthermore, why are fictional races like Elves are subject to human ethnic and racial differences at all, they are a race of their own? 2) You wasted so much money on action scenes but couldn't somehow make all these fictional races feel nonhuman? I mean dwarfs are just humans with dwarfism. Dryads are a multiracial amazon tribe. Elves are just humans with different ears. Can we hope for any improvement at this point or is it too late? Ah yes, the hot topic! The discussions about race in the writers room, with the producers, and with Andrzej himself were long and varied. We talked about the history of the Conjunction of the Spheres (are all humans out in the ether the same color? Did the Conjunction drop certain races in certain areas?), we talked about the Continent being a huge place (are we to believe that people don't migrate?), and we talked the most about how racism was presented in the books. Like all readers, we always came down on the side that racism in the books is represented by species-ism -- humans vs. elves vs. dwarves vs. gnomes vs. halflings vs. monsters and so forth. It's not about skin color at all. You don't notice skin color when instead you're looking at the shape of ears, or the size of torsos, or the length of teeth.
Furthermore, in the books, there are a few mentions of skin color, usually "pale" or "wind-chapped." Andrzej very specifically didn't add in many details of skin color, he told me himself. Readers generally make assumptions (typically, unless otherwise noted, believe characters to be the same color as themselves). That said, the general assumption is that everyone in The Witcher is the same color, which is why all the focus is on species.
Because it's 2020, and because the real world is a very big and diverse place, we made a different assumption on the show. That people don't pay attention to skin color -- not because they're all the same color, but because the bigger differences are about species, not skin. If you went to your local supermarket and there were people with horns and tails, do you really think you'd be paying attention to how much melanin is in their skin?
Maybe the answer is yes. Clearly, it is for some people! But it wasn't for us, the writers and the producers.
Q: Are you planing to get more writers that can both read and relate to the source material? And I mean people who are not just roughly related to Poland or Central Europe but actually Polish writers who can work with the original material, context, the small details and ambiguities of the Slavic background that books have. Something that is in many cases is lost in translation. Books have a lot of Polish culture and feel embedded into them naturally, more than just description of particular locations, this aspect that is based on author’s nationality, culture and period in polish history when the books were written all have big influence on the general mood, it was almost totally lost in the show. Our writers are from all over the world, but you're right, we all live in Los Angeles -- but we do have several Polish producers on the show, including Tomek Baginski, who is incredibly involved in all parts of the creative process. I'm sorry that it felt lost in the show -- it's something we have an eye to constantly, and we will work to do better
Hi Lauren, Witcher books are really challenging to adapt as their tone changes with each one. Short stories are as chaotic as they can get, 1st book is slowly paced character introduction and development, 2nd is fact paced action, 3rd is a mixture of everything, where humor is chaotically mixed with very serious matters like in short stories, 4th is the very grim, dark, ruthless and grounded, yet manages to be beautifully haunting, and 5th changes completely the tone from the grounded 4th entry to literary, space and time full blown fantasy. I saw that approach for season 1 was faithful to the short stories, mixing a lot of elements (humor with serious issues, which some viewers find confusing). There was also a specific choice with overall aesthetics bringing magical or dreamy feeling - I'm talking about using shooting techniques, color filters, lenses (Tarkovsky like) or choices to show particular locations (Brokilon for example) using a lot of post-processing. Like to underline that this is a Fantasy show with capital F. Magical elements were also used often in the story. My vision/expectations for TV adaptation was a bit different, rather keeping things rather realistic in tone and presentation (with additions of Jaskier from time to time to ease the tension), maybe even going with limiting the magic used to bare minimum needed for the coherent and exciting story. Although this could be similar to ... so, Questions: How do you plan to approach this challenge of tone changing rapidly between each books in source material? Do you want to keep more or less the tone and aesthetics of 1st season for the rest of the show, or you may change it season by season if the story will need it? Does some other very popular fantasy show affected the choice of aesthetics in the 1st season, or there was other reasons for that? I feel like someone really wanted to differentiate The Witcher from this very popular TV show bringing all this magical feeling to picture and location aesthetics and often use of magic in the script. I completely understand using this approach to picture and aesthetics without mixing other shows to it, but was just feeling that it's was a bit overused and I'm interested for the reasons for that choice. Thank you in advance for answers, congratulations, great job on S1 and can't wait for next season. Story dictates the tone, so as the story changes, so will the tone! That said: "Chaotic" is the right word for season one, and we wrapped a lot of different tones in there too: romance, humor, horror, adventure, and so forth. We'll continue to shift as needed. And it wasn't so much about separating ourselves from GOT, but rather, honoring the specifics of The Witcher. The books are more magic. They aren't all gray and gritty all the time. I credit the video games for showing just how beautiful a fantasy world can be -- we wanted to include that as well.
the question below has been split into a few parts
Thank you so much in advance! And please stop when you feel it’s time to move on. Even two will be a lot. 1. Now that Nilfgaard has gone from being a primitive backwater to being a kingdom of genocidal religious fanatics, and not an advanced empire with generations-old Equal Rights Amendment-like provisions, which country in the Continent would be the nicest for a woman or someone from a minority to live in? Interesting about Nilfgaard. Yes, we felt like we needed to set up a "bad guy" in S1 -- but it's our hope that we've added enough layers to Cahir and Fringilla that the audience thinks "Wait, but THEY don't seem insane. So what do they see in Nilfgaard? Maybe there's more there than meets the eye?" Perhaps we didn't go far enough in S1, to see more behind Nilfgaard's curtain -- but it will definitely be explored more thoroughly in S2.
2. [important but complicated, skippable] Show Calanthe has been called a 'female Robert Baratheon.’ What was the creative process behind writing Calanthe and Eithne, two brilliant, fearsome, strong, unique, unforgettable women in the books?
3. How have you ensured that the varying quality of the English translation would not negatively affect the scripts? Did you have Bagiński in the room often? Have you considered getting an assistant who understands Polish and all the nuances? Tomek is an EP. He reads all the outlines and scripts and give copious notes. He is on the ground, on set. He sees all of the cuts, and notes them as well. You're right, I don't read Polish. But he's quick to tell me when I'm not understanding something -- the Law of Surprise, apparently, makes a lot more sense in Polish than in English! He and I have a lot of debates; neither of us get our way all of the time. But I also know he is incredibly proud of the show, and thinks it represents the tone and soul of the books well.
4. I understand the show will deviate from the books some more down the road because existing changes make certain book developments impossible. Is this a part of your seven-season plan, or more of a result of focusing on creating the best possible first season? More if I have the time!
As an adoptive parent myself, I’m a fan of the approach you’ve taken with the show. I was wondering if you could speak to how the complexities of that kind of family dynamic - including the ups and downs - might inform the story going forward? Several of the writers are parents; and we all come from different family structures and dynamics, including adoption. I ask all the writers to bring in their life experiences to the room, so many of the things you see in S1 -- Yennefer's relationship with her father, and then her growing relationship with Tissaia for instance, or Ciri's affection with Mousesack leading to her welcoming Geralt as a new father-figure -- are not only based on the books, but also our own experiences with our parents and our children. We want to be as honest and truthful as we can about how humans treat other humans.
First of all congratulations on The Witcher being one of the most popular shows! Second kudos to you for choosing this subreddit for your AMA. I only have one question. In light of some showrunners feeling they can do no wrong due to them having made a great series. What do you fear most in terms of being the showrunner for The Witcher? Also thank you for making the series the best way that you can. My wife and I love it. Uhhhh... I can't speak for other show runners, but I do a lot of wrong. I think I do a lot of right, too, but some jobs you have to learn on your feet, and this is one of them. This is also one done on a giant fucking stage with a giant fucking audience, so that's been something for me to adjust to. I think my goal is to keep writing the best show I know how, while simultaneously paying attention to what is resonating with fans (and what isn't). I don't want to lose myself. And I don't want to lose them.
Hi Lauren! First of all, congrats on the show, I think you did a fantastic job and I'm definitely looking forward for S2. My question is about the ending: what were the reasons behind choosing to go for a very brief, cliffhanger-like exchange between Geralt and Ciri ("Who is Yennefer?") instead of something deeper and more emotional like in the books? Not sure if you saw it on Twitter, but the scene from the books was filmed, almost word for word. Even the episode's title -- Much More -- came from that scene. But in the editing room, it felt like it was too on the nose. Two people saying everything to each other, rather than it being conveyed through their eyes or body language. That's what happens when you take literature and suddenly ask real people to act it out. Sometimes it works; sometimes, it feels like too much. I think everyone has a VERY different reaction to this scene -- it seems about 50% of people miss the book ending, and 50% of people feel like it would have been cliche and cheesy. Even though I loved the book ending, I came down in the latter camp... obviously.
Greetings Lauren! Big fan here from Macedonia. A quick question - will there eventually be a tiny little 'nod' to the Witcher games in the TV show? Something that us gamers would instantly recognize :) That'd be cool. Thanks for doing this and looking forward to season 2! You mean like a bathtub? :)
Hi, Lauren! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this AMA. My question is this. In the final episode, right before Geralt and Ciri meet, Ciri leaves the house and goes into the woods then circles back and meets up with Geralt closer to the edge of the forest. Was that intentionally done and if so why? It seems such a bizarre thing to do. I know they were supposed to meet in a forest to complete Renfri’s prophecy but surely there was a better way to execute that than Ciri running in what is essentially a circle. Interesting -- their meet-up point was nowhere near the edge of the forest. I know this because we all had to hike to get there! I wonder why it looked that way to you?
the question below has been split into a few parts
Lauren, Thank you for hosting this AMA. Two questions: 1. Would it be possible to make this show more diverse and more Polish at the same time? I’d love the idea of you casting Latino actors, Native American actors, Polynesian actors – it’s fantasy, so why not? But also, make it more Polish! Add Pierogis, winged hussars, stroje ludowe – make it extremely Polish! Yes! We do color-blind casting, and we work hard to make sure that no one feels like they can't put themselves up for a role just because they're not the "expected" look of the character. We will continue to do this in S2, and hope to expand our reach even more.
And yes to "more Polish!" I mean, we'll see about the pierogis. :)
2. Will we see more “morally grey” decisions in the second season? I’d love to see Geralt make the wrong choice more often. I think the “lesser of two evils” approach that Geralt has to take is part of the appeal of this series, he wrestles with a world where sometimes there’s no good answer. The pilot did this extremely well, but it would be excellent and engaging to see the dilemmas continue. Thank you! And good point about seeing Geralt make the wrong decision more often. It was my hope that viewers would debate whether or not he is in the right or wrong on many occasions, rather than making it obvious on a story level -- and I think we could do that better in S2.
Thanks for doing this AMA! First of all, I just finished season one, and there were a lot of things I absolutely loved, from the casting and acting (Henry Cavill was born to play Geralt) to the faithfulness to the source material. However, one thing that I found confusing was the relative lack of explanation regarding the time jumps between the three main character arcs (it was hard to tell when and where things were happening) and some of the more (admittedly minor) in-universe fantasy aspects of the show (Renfri telling Geralt’s future, Borch’s prophetic abilities, how Geralt recovered from the nekker bites). I got the impression that the reason for this was foreshadowing and show structure, as well as the overarching meta-structure of the destinies of the three main characters slowly converged over the course of the season before eventually colliding for the season finale, which had been hinted at since the beginning of episode one. So that leads to my question, what was the reasoning for some of the creative decisions behind season one, regarding the narrative, structure, and occasional deviation from the source material (Mousesack’s death, Jaskier not being called Dandelion)? Was it because of a specific target demographic the showrunners have in mind, such as hardcore fans of the books/games? Are the episodes going to be more linear chronologically and character-development instead of plot/conflict based going forward now that the three arcs have (mostly) converged? Does fan feedback really play in deciding which direction to go regarding creative decisions such as timeline, character fates, and structuring the narrative? I don’t really think the hundreds of trolls and haters really affect what the writers have in mind, but I just wanted to know if it’s all done in-house or if it’s more of a “see how the nerds react” kind of process. Thanks again! The narrative structure was put in place so that we could tell Geralt's short stories (the foundation of the whole Witcher world, in my opinion), while Ciri and Yennefer could also be a part of the action. They're stories don't happen simultaneously, so we knew we needed to play with time a bit. This will definitely change in season two, as they're stories have begun to converge.
Honestly? I didn't expect this to be one of the most hotly-contested part of the series. I've heard a lot of people say "I didn't figure it out until episode 4!" -- which is exactly when we expected people would do it. I think it's a matter of personal choice. I like movies with structures I have to figure out as I go -- other people may not. In this case, the people who hated it will luck out, because S2 is structured differently. :)
Also -- quickly -- each creative change has a different reason. For instance, Mousesack isn't featured heavily in later books, so his death -- which would be the last piece of Ciri's family to be taken from her -- felt like an appropriate shift from the source material, in order to help us ground Ciri's emotional state.
How can someone in a completely different professional field with little experience and no agent who just really connected to your show and would love to be on it get a shot for an audition for a future role? Our casting director is Sophie Holland, and she is on Twitter. You will need an agent, though -- I'd suggest starting your google search there!
Hi Lauren, how did you feel about Game of Thrones’ last season (assuming you have seen the entire show) and do you see why people disliked it so much? I have seen all of GOT, and loved a lot of it and disliked some of it too. I didn't read the books, so I came at it fresh with zero expectations. My issues in S8 were that 1.) it felt like it spent several episodes recapping what had happened in all the years prior, and 2.) that it spent the final several episodes trying to tie up every loose end quickly and neatly. I think there's a lot of pressure on a show with a fanbase to be everything to everyone, and... sometimes it ends up being too watered down for that. That was my biggest issue.
Will there be any queer representation next season? (before anyone yells at me, there is in the books) One of my favorite things about the books is that they are full of subversion. Yes, we're gonna represent.
Do Geralt's swords have names? Silver and steel. That's it.
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