The Witcher star Anya Chalotra: Filming Rience’s death was “embarrassing”

The Witcher season 3. Image: Netflix. Anya Chalotra as Yennefer of Vengerberg.
The Witcher season 3. Image: Netflix. Anya Chalotra as Yennefer of Vengerberg. /

The Witcher season 3 featured some of the show’s most breathtaking stuntwork yet, including Geralt’s duel with Vilgefortz of Roggeveen, the Shaerrawedd battle and more. The season has received a mixed response from fans, but the action scenes have remained consistently good.

Not all of them look as cool behind the scenes, though. Star Anya Chalotra (Yennefer) opened up to Vulture about one particular moment in season 3’s Thanedd battle that looked much less epic when they were shooting it.

The Witcher season 4
Ciri (Freya Allan), Geralt (Henry Cavill), and Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) in The Witcher season 3. /

Some of The Witcher’s stunts looked very silly behind the scenes

The scene happens around halfway through the episode, when the fire mage Rience catches up with Yennefer and Ciri outside of Aretuza. Yennefer tells Rience that she’s going to lay down Geralt’s sword, which she has strapped to her back. Instead, she uses her magic to send it hurtling past Rience. Geralt catches the blade out of the air and slices off Rience’s head.

It should come as no surprise that Chalotra didn’t actually throw a sword past actor Sam Woolf’s face. “I throw it, it lands on the floor,” Chalotra recalled. “Thank goodness the camera turns away from my face, because I’m like, ‘Oh, that was embarrassing.’ And then someone throws it to Henry fast, and fortunately, it looks cool.”

"I do have to trust a lot of people, because in that moment, when I go [pantomimes throwing it], and it just falls flat on the floor, there’s nothing worse. There’s nothing more humiliating. And my face is so determined!"

The Witcher season 3. Image: Netflix. Anya Chalotra as Yennefer of Vengerberg.
The Witcher season 3. Image: Netflix. Anya Chalotra as Yennefer of Vengerberg. /

Yennefer’s spellcasting movements were inspired by Indian dance

Yennefer spent most of season 2 unable to access her powers, so season 3 presented a fresh opportunity to reevaluate how the show approached her spellcasting gestures. Chalotra said that the stunt team approached her about the idea of incorporating Indian dance into Yennefer’s movements, and the actor eagerly got on board and helped design what that would look like onscreen.

“The stunt team came to me to ask. They wanted to elevate Yennefer’s magic, and they first thought of Indian dance, kathak. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity,” Chalotra said. “I’m culturally very familiar with it. I grew up on Bollywood films. If we’re gonna elevate magic, why not use something I’m familiar with, especially when it’s all about hand gestures? I didn’t want it to be about Indian dance moves — it’s Polish folklore, it’s Polish novels, it’s a Polish world, we didn’t want it to be a thing — but enough of a moment that people are like, “Wow, I’ve not seen that before.”

"I love stunt work,” C. I love working with my body to make something. I’ve always wanted to do more of it. This season, we were more specific because we wanted to bring Yennefer’s magic to life a bit more, and I basically just wanted to hang out with the stunt department. They’re so fun, and Wolfie [supervising stunt coordinator Wolfgang Stegemann] is just adored. This season wouldn’t be the same without him."

The Witcher’s scariest monster was actually three people with green pool noodles

While we’re on the topic of stunts that looked sillier behind the scenes, we have to talk about this recent video shared by The Witcher Instagram account. It shows how the terrifying flesh monster that Geralt fights in the third season’s second episode was made. It was a mass of pulsing flesh and limbs on screen, but during filming the flesh monster was actually three stunt people in greenscreen suits, armed with green pool noodles. I wonder how hard it was for Henry Cavill to keep a straight face while he was pretending to fight for his life against these three greenscreen pool ninjas?

You can learn more about this in Netflix’s documentary Making The Witcher: Season 3, where Cavill and stunt coordinator Wolfgang Stegemann go into a bit more detail about what it was like to choreograph the scene opposite these three dedicated stunt people.

The Witcher season 3 is streaming now on Netflix.

Next. Henry Cavill’s 20 best moments as Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher. dark

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h/t SlashFilm