Early fans swear by books. Whether with The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, moving the smallest comma can trigger the ire of an entire community. The Witcher series dares to modify certain events, alter their chronology, and even touches on several major characters while relying on the novels.
What’s really interesting is that I keep coming back to Andrzej Sapkowski’s books as inspiration for the series. Andrzej and I have been in contact for 4 years since I was hired by Netflix. – Lauren Schmidt Hissrich (producer)
The writers show a deep respect for the literary work of Andrzej Sapkowski. The novels serve as a structure, as the backbone of the narrative framework. Even though the Netflix-produced series moves away, sometimes intentionally, often out of necessity, from books, it retains its essence, its DNA.
What I’m trying to do is make sure we stay in the tone of the books, in the spirit of the books. This is the only thing Andrzej Sapkowski asked me to do when I started to adapt them. – Lauren Schmidt Hissrich (producer)
The actors themselves frequently return to the material that gave birth to a Heroic-Fantasy universe as rich as it is intriguing. It is not for nothing that the latter has seduced millions of readers, players and finally spectators. From Geralt to the Princess of Cintra via Yennefer and the many secondary characters, all without exception have gone through one or more of the Polish author’s novels, as much to discover their role as to soak up the special atmosphere of this fantasy world.
When I got the part I started reading (the books) because Nivellen’s story is based on a novel. I read “A Grain of Truth”, and bought all the books. This is what I’m going to do at Christmas. I also bought the games. I should have played them before I spoke to you, but they’re ready downstairs. I look forward to this. – Kristofer Hivju (actor – Nivellen)
We must admit that The Witcher stands out from other major works of Heroic-Fantasy. Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones are undoubtedly cornerstones of the genre. The comparison with the adventures of the witcher is inevitable. The three franchises cited share a keen sense of the epic. It is obvious. But they differ from each other in their approach to fantasy. The Lord of the Rings is a choral saga. Game of Thrones focuses above all on political intrigue. What about The Witcher in all of this? Producer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich enlightens us.
I think The Witcher stands out for its humorous aspect. He doesn’t take himself seriously. He can be very funny. It can be quite ironic. It is not something that is often found in fantasy. The very nature of fantasy is to be a lens that reflects the real world. This is why fantasy tackles real world issues and often life and death issues. She is getting very serious. We want to reflect on those same themes in The Witcher, but we’re really focusing on the characters and the way they behave with each other. There is a lot of humor, a lot of joy and a lot of emotions. We never want politics or fighting to take precedence over these elements. – Lauren Schmidt Hissrich (producer)
The Witcher is neither The Lord of the Rings nor Game of Thrones and even less all the other sagas that have fueled Heroic-Fantasy for decades. The Netflix series must be faithful to the original material, respect its substance, tone and spirit, even if it must also be free to better flourish.
A book is one thing, a series is another. It sounds common sense, but it is worth remembering this simple fact. Transposing an adventure born on paper onto a small screen involves many modifications. These decisions are taken, not to offend the fans, but on the contrary to preserve what makes the salt of the literary series without becoming a clone in live action. Author Andrzej Sapkowski even encourages screenwriters to reinvent The Witcher, to appropriate the universe, and to enrich it. It’s not for nothing that the events of the series echo those of the books while taking a different path, a path of their own.
Andrzej (Sapkowski) has a very particular point of view on adaptations of his material. It must allow the creators of these projects, whether it be video games, comics or television series, to … I almost said “create their own destiny” … to forge their own path. through its material because the books will always remain the books. Nothing that I do or that anyone else does can change that. – Lauren Schmidt Hissrich (producer)
The Witcher series undoubtedly moves away from novels, and takes enormous liberties. We will come back to some of the differences that make the show a work in its own right a little later. Netflix has turned the literary saga upside down, and therefore made several decisions that could upset fans. Yet according to Norwegian actor Kristofer Hivju (Nivellen in the Season 2 premiere) upsetting the lore was the only viable option. The reason given is unstoppable.
When you take books and turn them into a TV series, a dance is created between the creator and the author of the books. You have to follow the books, but at some point you have to do something else or everyone knows what’s going to happen. – Kristofer Hivju (actor – Nivellen)
We are not going to go into detail on Season 1 of The Witcher. In many ways, the first 8 episodes emancipate themselves from the novels. The first difference is in the narrative structure which in 2019 simultaneously pushes forward multiple plots at distinct eras. The new batch of episodes changes the game, and maintains the linearity of the books. For the rest, the story told in Le Sang des Elfes – the third novel – takes an unexpected turn. The script reinterprets the highlights of the story, combines others, and keeps intact what needs to be. The Witcher series is definitely taking off.
We try to take viewers on an exciting journey, which will be a little different on TV than it would be if you read a novel. – Lauren Schmidt Hissrich (producer)
Some characters present themselves in a different light. The alterations are sometimes minor and sometimes consequent. We could cite the magician Yennefer whose audiovisual destiny differs from that of the literary one or even the magus Rience whose introduction, powers and even iconic scenes change dramatically. Cirilla, played by Freya Allan, perfectly symbolizes the state of mind of the series on this point.
When I got the part, I immediately read “Blood of the Elves” and other content. (…) I remember, when I read the novels, it gave me a very good idea of who Ciri was. But at the same time, I’m playing her a little older, so there are some things that can’t be included in her physicality, the one that characterizes her in the books. (…) There are some things you need to change, but I feel that Ciri’s heart is well and truly transferred to the scripts, so this is my Bible. – Freya Allan (actress – Ciri)
Season 3 of The Witcher was formalized in the summer of 2023 during WitcherCon. This is not surprising. Netflix wants to capitalize on a universe of countless opportunities. The saga also allows itself to expand certain parts of the history left fallow by the Polish author. I am thinking in particular of Vesemir’s past brought to life in the animated film The Wolf’s Nightmare, but also that of the first witcher in the Blood Origin series, the filming of which recently ended. What about the universe built by CD Projekt RED in video games? Spoiler alert! Netflix has decided.
I do not think so. Video games are also an adaptation of books. I feel like if we started adapting the video games that adapted the books, we’d be in a weird whirlwind of adaptations. The games do what they do incredibly well, and I don’t have to walk on their flower beds at all. I much prefer to stick to our stories and books. – Lauren Schmidt Hissrich (producer)
Netflix is definitely holding its Game of Thrones. The Witcher adventure is still in its infancy. Faith of Geralt de Riv.