Showrunner tells us about all the changes made to The Witcher: Blood Origin

The Witcher: Blood Origin
The Witcher: Blood Origin /

Geralt of Rivia may have taken 2022 off from monster hunting, but soon we’ll be back on the Continent for the first ever live-action spinoff for Netflix’s The Witcher. Set 1,200 years before the mothership show, The Witcher: Blood Origin tells a story set in an ancient elven empire that existed long before either humans or monsters were around. Following a whole new cast of characters, Blood Origin will depict the lead-up to the Conjunction of the Spheres, the celestial event which merged the worlds of humans, elves, and monsters.

We had the chance to sit down with Blood Origin showrunner Declan de Barra and executive producer Lauren Hissrich to ask a few burning questions about the new show, including why this time period was the right one to explore in a live-action spinoff. The previous Witcher spinoff Nightmare of the Wolf was set closer to the main show, which meant there was much more potential for overlap with characters like Vesemir. What about the Conjunction of the Spheres made it ripe to explore in a live-action series?

“Because it’s the lynch pin of what happened to the Continent and the elves that we meet in the book, when they’re almost destroyed and wiped out, and they’re pre-agrarian and have lost their stories and everything because the humans have basically colonized them,” de Barra explained. “The Conjunction of the Sphere was that moment, and how did it happen? How did the great elven civilization collapse to such a level? That was wide open…it’s touched on in the books, but very little. So we got to fill out all of that, which was just manna from heaven as a writer, it was just so much fun.”

Jaskier and Seanchaí (Minnie Driver) weren’t originally in The Witcher: Blood Origin

One interesting bit of behind-the-scenes news that made the rounds a few months back was that The Witcher: Blood Origin received a significant overhaul after shooting, which resulted in the episode count being cut down from six to four. The show is a limited series; there won’t be any second season of Blood Origin or anything like that. Instead, the entire tale will be told over the course of those four episodes. So how much was left on the cutting room floor?

According to de Barra, the overhaul sounds less dramatic than many fans initially believed. “It was cool because when we started this, the only thing we knew really was it was gonna be a close-ended series that had to work for fans of the books, the games, people who watch the TV show or all three, people who didn’t know it…it had to be a self-contained story,” he said. “As such, there was no rules even about ‘how long do you wanna make an episode?’ It doesn’t matter; ‘how many episodes do you want?’ It doesn’t matter.”

"So basically we shot everything we wanted to shoot, and then we got into the editing room and just made the best sort of version of two movies put together we could make, that was not too long, not too short, just felt perpetually moving forward, so you blink and it’s over. That’s what we wanted…you binge it. Like a Sapkowski story, one of these little mini stories that he does so well in the books."

However, there were a few very significant elements of Blood Origin that were added during the overhaul that weren’t in the original cut, such as the inclusion of Seanchaí, a new character played by Minnie Driver, as well as an expanded role for the bard Jaskier (Joey Batey).

“It was kind of organic,” said de Barra. “Jaskier wasn’t in there originally, but [Lauren Hissrich] had the great idea of bringing in Jaskier…and it’s such an obvious thing when you see it, you know? But at the time it wasn’t there. And then it was like ‘oh, this is great.'”

Seanchai (Minnie Driver) in The Witcher: Blood Origin. Image courtesy Kevin Baker/Netflix. © 2022 Netflix, Inc.
Seanchai (Minnie Driver) in The Witcher: Blood Origin. Image courtesy Kevin Baker/Netflix. © 2022 Netflix, Inc. /

Seanchaí is an ethereal being who collects stories, and serves as the narrator of The Witcher: Blood Origin. She balances out Jaskier, who has a flair for the dramatic and isn’t afraid to exercise creative license when recounting tales. “I loved the idea of a creature that moves through time collecting stories and bringing them back to life,” said de Barra. “[Minnie Driver] was perfect for it. And she was a fan of The Witcher so she said yes and it was great, so we’re happy.”

The Witcher: Blood Origin premieres on Netflix on December 25.

Next. Another Witcher spinoff is reportedly in development at Netflix. dark

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