Netflix has filled out the remaining lead roles in the Henry Cavill-fronted adaptation of The Witcher saga.
17-year-old Freya Allan (Into the Badlands) will play Ciri, the Princess of Cintra, an important kingdom with the series.
She was not the only Cintra native to be cast, as Allan will be joined by Jodhi May (Games of Thrones) as the kingdom’s Queen Calanthe, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson (Fortitude) as Calanthe’s husband and knight, Eist, and Adam Levy (Knightfall) as Mousesack, a druid.
In another crucial casting, Wanderlust actress Anya Chalotra will play sorceress Yennefer.
Chalotra will be joined at Aretuza’s magical academy by MyAnna Buring (Ripper Street) as Tissaia, Mimi Ndiweni (Black Earth Rising) and Therica Wilson-Read (Profile) as novice sorcerers Fringilla and Sabrina, respectively, and Millie Brady (The Last Kingdom) as the outcast Princess Renfri.
The casting of Ciri initially caught a lot of media attention, after a casting ad for the character called for women of colour, while the original novels and subsequent video games portrayed her as being white. Showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich proceeded to take a hiatus from Twitter after receiving a lot of “hate” from fans.
Hissrich spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the response: “It boils down to a couple things. One, this property has such a passionate fan base. I think any leak at all was going to attract this type of attention, and with any attention comes backlash to that attention. I do think that whatever information is trickling out there, there will be people responding positively to it and people responding negatively to it. I think that’s just part of making a television show, and especially a show this big.”
She then continued by saying: “In terms of why people responded so strongly, I think the fans really have pictures of these characters in their minds and I don’t blame them for that. I get it. When I read my favorite books I certainly imagine characters a certain way. There’s obviously a couple lines of description of Ciri in the books and people become very enamored with their own vision of it. I think coming in as a writer and saying my vision might look different than yours is scary for fans, but truthfully I don’t think it has to be. One of the things I feel most strongly about is people being afraid that we’re going to strip out the cultural context of The Witcher, to remove its Slavic roots, the very thing people in Poland are proud of. That couldn’t be further from the truth. What I’ve always wanted to do is take these Slavic stories and give them a global audience.”
Hissrich was also quick to explain that the series is taking its roots from the original Polish novels, rather than the popular video game series, which simply acts as a visual representation of these stories – the team behind the Netflix series are instead endeavouring to find their “own visual representation.”
More on The Witcher when we have it.