Maybe probably the most emblematic picture of Netflix’s tackle The Witcher is Henry Cavill as Geralt, large shoulders sunken, muttering a raspy “fuck” as he realizes the depths of the issue in entrance of him. Geralt’s gruffness is an enormous a part of the enchantment of The Witcher, as his down-to-earth nature stands in distinction to many different fantasy tales filled with royalty and long-prophesied saviors. He’s not out to be a hero; he’s simply right here to do a job. Saving the world simply appears to occur whether or not he needs to be concerned or not.
When it got here time to create The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, a prequel that stars Geralt’s mentor Vesemir, producer and screenplay author Beau DeMayo knew he wished a really completely different form of character. Throughout video video games, books, and a live-action present, we’ve seen loads of the Witcher universe from Geralt’s perspective. It was time for one thing new — and quite a bit much less severe. “Geralt grunts at a problem,” DeMayo tells The Verge. “Vesemir winks.”
Nightmare of the Wolf is a feature-length anime that debuts on Netflix on August twenty third. Animation was dealt with by Studio Mir — which beforehand labored on reveals like The Legend of Korra, The Boondocks, and Dota: Dragon’s Blood — whereas DeMayo penned the story. He says he initially got here up with the therapy whereas engaged on season 1 of the live-action Netflix present (DeMayo wrote the third episode), after which crafted Nightmare of the Wolf’s story within the lead-up to season 2. “In many ways it was like getting to write the same show twice in two different formats,” he says.
The setting and character of the film had been fascinating, he says, as a result of The Witcher is “at its core about families and how we pass along what we learn to future generations.” As Geralt’s mentor and father determine, Vesemir was the best protagonist. It allowed the staff to discover a brand new time interval, earlier than the occasions of the present, but in addition have a completely completely different form of lead. Vesemir and Geralt are each witchers, mutated mercenaries who kill monsters in trade for gold, however their personalities are fully reverse.
“I was thinking about my own relationship to my parents and how so much of my identity is formed in opposition to what my parents are,” DeMayo explains. “And so if Geralt is the grumpiest person alive, it made sense to me that Vesemir would be an extrovert and this kind of charismatic character. Where it became interesting for me was taking the world we knew through Geralt’s point of view, which is a hard world with a hard character, and then we put this life-loving, pleasure-seeking character in that same world, and see how he interacts with it.”
One of many massive adjustments for DeMayo was shifting to longer-form narrative. Throughout mediums The Witcher is often constructed on episodic storytelling, whether or not that’s a group of quick tales, a recreation primarily based round plenty of quests, or a live-action present. It suits the character nicely, as Geralt is basically a touring sword-for-hire, venturing to new cities to combat monsters and reluctantly remedy issues. It’s usually structured like a fantasy detective story. That didn’t work for a full-length movie.
“It felt like the longest sidequest in The Witcher video game,” DeMayo says of the method. “Episodically, it’s a little bit easier, a little more contained to tell those stories. The [points of view] episodically, you usually have one or two characters; here it’s a bit more of an ensemble. I think that’s probably why we have a really big quest section. That’s the thing that really came into the longer format, it allowed us to lean into the traditional dark fantasy, or just fantasy, idea of the epic quest. The ‘leaving the Shire’ kind of moment.”
The shift to animation additionally had its advantages. In addition to Cavill was capable of inhabit Geralt, he’s nonetheless a human, saddled by petty issues like “gravity.” This made creating motion scenes a bit extra enjoyable within the anime. “You’re not constrained by set hours, you’re not constrained by insurance policies, you don’t have to worry about killing an actor,” says DeMayo. Kwang Il Han, director at Studio Mir, factors out a way more sensible profit. “The actors had difficulty carrying multiple swords at the same time [in the live-action show], because they were too heavy, so they were only carrying one sword at a time,” he says. “In the anime we don’t have those restrictions.”
For DeMayo, a longtime fan of the franchise, Nightmare of the Wolf was additionally an opportunity to get actually nerdy and reply some lingering questions in regards to the witchers and their place on the earth. In a approach, the film serves a twin goal. It’s meant to lure in new followers who may use the anime as a place to begin, but in addition satiate longtime Witcher buffs with some fascinating new tidbits of lore.
“What [Witcher writer Andrzej Sapkowski] did very well is he hinted at things in the backstory, that made you go ‘Ooh, what’s that all about?’ If you’re a really diehard person you’ll probably go on wikis and Reddit and really fall down the rabbit hole to figure out those things,” he says. “And in some cases there are no answers for those things. I do think the prequel gives you some answers to things that we’ve all as Witcher fans wondered about for a very long time.”
Maybe probably the most stunning factor followers will discover about Vesemir is that the grizzled outdated man has changed into a younger hottie. “It just happened,” DeMayo says. “I did put dashing in the script, I think. Because in my mind he was a Witcher version of Zorro, and Diego is not a bad-looking dude. So I think it probably was my fault.”
However that additionally implies that — as anybody who watched the most recent trailer already is aware of — younger Vesemir appears proper at residence in yet one more Witcher bathtub scene. Given how prevalent these have change into for the reason that opening sequence of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I needed to ask: was it now a prerequisite for all Witcher tales?
“No,” says DeMayo. “I just wanted one.”