Netflix’s The Witcher series is just around the corner, and star Henry Cavill surprised a delighted audience at CCXP today by turning up for Netflix’s mystery panel at the convention. Cavill was joined by series creator Lauren Schmidt Hissrich for the surprise panel, where they discussed what to expect from their series adaptation of the beloved game/book series and showed off some footage, too.
If you’ve been keeping an eye on all things The Witcher, you probably already caught wind of the footage itself, which was the same trio of scenes they showed at SDCC earlier this year. In case you missed it, the first scene saw Cavill showing off his action skills in a melee swordfight set within the castle’s throne rooml. Cavill’s Geralt battles a host of men single-handedly, and while it’s not a bloody bit of action, it does kick some kinetic ass. The scene wraps up when the Queen herself gets in on the fight.
As Hissrich explained to the audiences, Cavill does all his stunts himself, including all that spectacular sword-swinging. “Whenever you see Geralt on the screen, even if it’s just his hand or his beautiful white hair flowing through camera, it’s all Henry.” And if you like your fight scenes grand, Cavill promises “a technical level tot he fight scenes which is not often seen on TV.”
They were also hyper-focused on making sure that the fight scenes were rich with story in the action. “The very first thing we sit down and talk about is story. What is the story we trying to tell? Anyone can smash swords against anyone else, but if it doesn’t mean anything then who cares?” Hissrich explained.
The second scene followed Freya Allen‘s Ciri, a princess with ties to Geralt and a destiny to match. The scene sees young Feya wander into a forest where she encounters a clan of Dryads, the woodland nymphs who have a tendency of killing outsiders who wander into their territory. Ciri walks towards a glowing golden light and once she realizes where she’s ended up, she pleads with the Dryads for her life, telling them she’s lost her way. The scene ends when Ciri grabs one of their arms, a decision that does not seem to go over well.
The third scene, a solemn moment of monologuing, focused on Anya Chalotra‘s Yennefer of Vengerberg, who meet on a beach sitting next to a dead baby. “I’m sorry you didn’t have a life” she says before meditating on the perils of being a woman in the world of The Witcher. Perhaps its best the child died so young, she muses, since it’s such a relentless struggle to live as a woman, promising a dark and complex world. At the end of the scene, Yennefer buries the baby.
Yennefer is a powerful sorceress, unlike Geralt who is a Witcher… what’s the difference? “Witches can do basic magic, which is in comparison to a sorcerer or a sorceress, basic, weaker magic,” Cavill said.
“Gerald’s true secret power is his capacity to love,” he continued. “Geralt goes out of his way to actually help the innocent,” a tendency that gets him into “some pretty tricky situations a lot of the time.”
Indeed, it seems empathy is the driving force of the series. “It’s really funny, there’s great music, there’s great performances, there’s Henry in a bathtub,” Hissrich explained. “But if there’s anything I want people to take from it it’s the tiniest bit of empathy for people who don’t walk in your shoes. The world is big enough for all of us.”
The panel came to a close with an exclusive look at a new action-packed trailer for the upcoming series. The new trailer teased plenty of magic and mayhem, and while some of the footage was familiar, it offered new glimpses at an epic-looking battle scene and, naturally, lots of Henry Cavill trading blows with a broadsword.
The Witcher arrives on Netflix on December 20. For more, be sure to check out our comprehensive explainer.