Netflix’s “The Witcher” is a fantasy drama set in medieval-inspired times about a Witcher, a mythological monster killer and an outcast on the Continent. His work and status as a Witcher mean he has a nomadic lifestyle and during his travels, he meets two other outcasts looking for a place to belong: Yennefer of Vengerberg, a sorceress, and princess Ciri. As it turns out, the three are linked by destiny.
Season 1 of “The Witcher” looks back at the origin stories of the three central characters and jumps around in time and between locations in the lead up to the three characters meeting. The series has been renewed for a second season, but production was paused when COVID-19 restrictions were put in place. Filming finally wrapped in March 2021; Season 2 will be released in late 2021.
“The Witcher” is based on a series of novels by the same name by Polish author Andrzej Sapowski. The novels are also the source material for a popular video game of the same name. The series was created by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, who is also the showrunner, has said that they relied on the books—not the video game—to tell the story on screen. The series began filming in Oct. 2018 in Budapest, Hungary and premiered on Netflix on Dec. 19, 2019.
In June 2020, it was announced that Netflix has put a spinoff in development, “The Witcher: Blood Origin.” The series will take place in an elven world 1,200 years before the events depicted in “The Witcher,” and the same team will be behind the new show. “The Witcher” showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissorich will serve as executive producer alongside Declan de Barra, who will showrun “The Witcher: Blood Origin.” Author of the books, Andrej Sapowski, will serve as creative consultant.
There are no casting notices for “The Witcher” right now, but keep an eye on Backstage for potential future opportunities to join the series. In Aug. 2020, “The Witcher” resumed production for Season 2 and as of Oct. 2020, reports seem to confirm that Season 3 will also be in production in 2020-2021, so be sure to check back for casting opportunities. In the meantime, you can apply for similar projects on Backstage right now!
In its first season, “The Witcher” starred:
- Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia, the Witcher
- Freya Allan as Ciri
- Anya Chalotra as Yennefer
- Mimi Ndiweni as Fringilla
- Mecia Simson as Francesca
- Eamon Farren as Cahir
- MyAnna Buring as Tissaia
- Wilson Radjou-Pujalte as Dara
- Adam Levy as Mousesack
- Joey Batey as Jaskier
- Lars Mikkelsen as Stregobor
Sophie Holland is the casting director for “The Witcher.” Based in London, she has cast projects like “The Indian Detective,” “Anna and the Apocalypse,” “Young Wallander,” and more.
In an interview with Backstage, Holland described the process as ongoing throughout the Season 1 shoot. “We were on that show for three or four months before the shoot, right through to the final day. There are new characters being written, new scripts, and huge production moves happening. To give you some context, half of Episode 1 was shot at the beginning and the other half was shot at the end of the series because of locations and changes and everything else. It’s a constant moving feast,” she says.
When it comes to adapting novels for the screen, refer to the source material and the feel of the characters. “Scripts are amazing, but the fans of the product have this really in-depth love of the world, and I wouldn’t have been able to do them justice if I had not read the book,” she says. “I knew pretty early on that I was interested in actors who could come in and bring a wealth of inner life with them and a wealth of knowledge of the world, if possible, or at least be smart enough to be guided by the material. I never want to cast just on looks alone.”
Actors need to be prepared: “It’s all about the preparation. More often than not, you’ve got great material to fall back on, so it’s all going to be in the script that you’re sent. You should really excavate those sides with care. We see really good actors every day, and very often they come in with reads that are not dissimilar from each other. Every now and then, we’ll get an actor who comes in who has really thought about it and really takes it to another level. It’s those actors who bring something exciting to the role.”
Don’t worry about being memorable: “Don’t be memorable, just be you. Come into the room and understand that it’s a collaboration between a casting director and the actor, and that we want to work together on something that you bring ideas to that are well thought out and well-prepared and excavated—that you’ve really thought about what you want to bring to that character. Come in, be polite, and be on time; ultimately, be ready to work. Then we’ll start to build a relationship with that actor. The thing about casting directors is that we have incredible memories. Four years down the line, we will remember you when something comes up, and we’ll bring you in. But actively trying to be memorable is counterproductive; you don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reasons!”
On looking for talent beyond agent submissions: “It’s really important not to narrow your search to just the submissions that agents make. We’ll go to community theaters and drama schools. Drama clubs are really good, especially if you’re looking for children. And we very often don’t narrow it down to the U.K.; we search in Europe, in Ireland. We might look in the model world or the pop world, depending on what we’re searching for. If we’re looking for someone really strong, we might look at bodybuilding competitions, for example. We try to be as diverse as possible, and we’re looking to open up the opportunities as much as possible, including for people who might not have an agent.”
Though there have been no public casting calls for lead roles, that doesn’t mean we won’t be seeing new faces when the series returns.
Keep in mind that for larger speaking roles—series regular, recurring, guest star, co-star, contract—you’ll likely need to go through your agent. Don’t have an agent? Here’s how to get one.
Should an audition come up, make sure you’re prepared:
Hungary-based Balázs Kovács of Extras Casting is the casting director for background actors on “The Witcher.” There are currently no open calls for Season 2 background talent, but be sure to check Extras Casting’s website and social media for updates.
“The Witcher” was filmed at various locations in Europe and will start filming Season 2 in the United Kingdom. When it comes to being an extra, it’s helpful to be local to the area. Because background work often does not include relocation or travel stipends, being a local hire is crucial for getting repeat work as an extra.
For more information on how to land work and make a living as a background actor, check out Backstage’s guide to working as an extra.