We’ve been hearing rumors that Game of Thrones star Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane) would be joining the cast of Netflix’s The Witcher for a while now. We even asked him about it when we talked to him about a week back. “Well, I can’t comment on that,” he laughed. “I love the show though.”
If it sounded like he was covering for something there, it’s because he was. Reliable Witcher fansite Redanian Intelligence has now confirmed what we basically already knew: that Hivju will bring his big bushy beard and swaggering attitude to the second season of The Witcher.
Specifically, Hivju will play Nivellen, a character from the short story “A Grain of Truth” from The Last Wish, the first book in author Andrzej Sapkowski’s series. Nivellen is an aristocrat cursed to look like a monster as punishment for something he did years ago. Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) comes across Nivellen’s home in the forest, and helps him work out his issues.
The early Witcher books make a habit of adapting fairy tales with a gruesome twist. For example, the story of Renfri, whom we met in the series premiere, is basically Snow White with a coat of blood-red paint. Likewise, “A Grain of Truth” is more or less Sapkowski’s take on Beauty and the Beast. Redanian Intelligence also reports that the show is casting Vereena, a key figure from this story.
In the books, “A Grain of Truth” happens very early in Geralt’s story, long before he meets Princess Ciri (Freya Allan). As Witcher fans know, the two of them met up at the end of the season 1, so I’m guessing showrunner Lauren Hissrich and company will finesse the story to include Ciri in some way. According to Redanian Intelligence, we’ll see “A Grain of Truth” early in the season, so perhaps Geralt and Ciri will run across Nivellen on their way to Kaer Morhen, the witchers’ keep?
Wherever the story falls in the season, I’m sure Hivju will kill it as a remorseful, charismatic beast. The guy has a face made for high fantasy. Just imagine some monster makeup on him and we’re good to go:
And Nivellen isn’t the only role The Witcher is looking to cast. We’ve already talked about the casting of Lambert and Coën, two of Geralt’s fellow witchers. Carmel Laniado will play Violet, a new character “whose playful and whimsical demeanor is a front for a smarter and more sadistic character.” We’ve also heard about them casting Sigismund Dijkstra, a spymaster who’s basically the Littlefinger/Varys of this world, and of course they’re going to cast Vesemir, Geralt’s mentor in the witching profession. The jury’s still out on whether Mark Hamill will play him, as rumored.
Redanian Intelligence has the lowdown on a bunch of other roles the show is looking to cast:
- Francesca: “The most beautiful woman in the world. Tall, intelligent, powerful and protective towards her child.” In the books, Francesca is an elven sorceress, so expect her to interact with Yennefer. She’s also the queen of an elven clan, so she’s busy. It looks like the show is adding a child for her. They’re also looking to cast her younger brother, a new character code-named Gary (actually, I really hope they keep that name). He’s “youthful and jovial” with a large, tall build.
- Vanessa-Marie: “A very old white haired woman. A demon, who roams the land bargaining and preying on people’s deepest and darkest desires.” This sounds like Gaunter O’Dimm, a villain from the Hearts of Stone expansion for The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. Redanian Intelligence guesses that she’ll be part of Yennefer’s storyline, since she’ll need some stuff to do while Geralt and Ciri are playing out their arcs from Blood of Elves. She’ll appear in three to four episodes, so it’s not a throwaway role.
- Rience: “Fit and full of anger. Imprisoned by the queen, he later finds himself in charge of searching for the prized Jewel. Smart, cunning, and sadistic. He will stop at nothing to get what he wants.” Rience is a major antagonist from the books, so it’s no surprise that he’s showing up.
- Lydia: “Dark hair, almond eyes. Bears the scars from an experiment gone wrong. Secretary and Assistant to the Master. Carries out a horrible deed.” In the books, the enigmatic Lydia is the assistant the sorcerer Vilgefortz (Mahesh Jadu), whom we met towards the end of season 1.
- Ithlinne: “Tall, charming. Wrinkled but fresh-faced. She is a healer and an oracle with a gift for divinations and prophecies. Warm and fear inducing at the same time. Nudity required.” Ithlinne is a legendary elven priestess who makes a prophecy at the center of the story. We don’t actually meet her in person in the books, so maybe she’ll appear in one of Ciri’s visions.
- Anna: “A fierce sex worker, she joins a group of soldiers who she isn’t afraid to boss around.”
Interesting that some major characters from the books, like the sorceress Philippa Eilhart, aren’t on this list, but then again, it may not be complete. It’s also possible some characters could show up later in the series. Hissrich has a longterm plan, after all.
But we’ll take it step by step. The second season of The Witcher will probably drop in 2021.