Some of its fans have complained that series lead Henry Cavill is too good looking to lay the famously grizzled part.
But The Witcher’s showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich is more concerned with fans being scared away by the show’s unusual trappings.
The producer and screenwriter urged them to give the fantasy series a try even if they hadn’t read the wildly popular noels in an interview with The Wrap published Saturday.
Polarizing: The Henry Cavill–starring The Witcher has been lambasted by some critics as too confusing, but showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich defended the show in an interview published Saturday in The Wrap; Henry pictured December 18
Henry stars in the US–Poland co-production as Geralt of Rivia, a warrior who travels an unnamed continent that resembles medieval Europe while hunting beasts and fantastical creatures for profit.
The character is a witcher, a person who develops magical powers as a child in order to ward off the deadly creatures.
But the Polish series of short stories and novels, first published in the mid-1980s before receiving their first English translation in 2007, are full of unfamiliar names and places that might throw off some viewers.
Adding to the show’s complexity is the fact that there are three different timelines running simultaneously, which departs from the novels and isn’t immediately obvious to first-time viewers.
Stay the course: Hissrich urged fans to stick around: ‘By the time you get to Episode 2 and Episode 3, you go “Oh my God, I totally understand what these things are now — but I understand why it wasn’t told to me immediately upfront”‘; pictured December 16
Adapted: Henry plays a magical hunter of fantastic beasts. The show is presented in three simultaneous timelines — a departure from the books — in order to introduce characters simultaneously
‘The place names aren’t familiar, the people’s names sound weird. Nothing is really familiar,’ admitted Hissrich.
‘The most important thing to me in Episode 1 is that you understand what a witcher is. Once you have that knowledge, then you can kind of be along for the ride and things that seem confusing in Episode 1, hopefully, by the time you get to Episode 2 and Episode 3, you go “Oh my God, I totally understand what these things are now — but I understand why it wasn’t told to me immediately upfront.”
‘I think the journey is definitely part of that experience,’ she added.
As far as Hissrich is concerned, the show’s potentially confusing timelines are actually helpful, as they allow the show to introduce the sorceress Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) and the princess Ciri (Freya Allan), both of whom appear much later in the novels.
Equal time: She claimed the show’s timelines are helpful, as they allow it to introduce the sorceress Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) and the princess Ciri (Freya Allan), both of whom appear much later in the novels; Chalotra (L) and Allan (R) pictured with Cavill on December 18
Staying on target: ‘I want to make sure that… the monsters and the magic and the violence and battles and sexuality… don’t take up the room of actual character development,’ she said
‘What was important to me is starting off and making sure that we understood who Geralt was and who Ciri was, and then, in Episode 2, who Yennefer was,’ she explained.
‘One of our early decisions… was actually just to introduce Geralt and Ciri in Episode 1 and to hold Yennefer for Episode 2 for that exact reason. There’s only so much you can take in.
‘I want to make sure that what I call the “bells and whistles of fantasy” — the monsters and the magic and the violence and battles and sexuality — all of those things we expect from high fantasy, that those don’t take up the room of actual character development,’ she said.
Henry, who has spoken about being a fan of the novels even before he signed on to the series, praised the showrunner’s adaptation.
‘Lauren has done an amazing job and Anya [Chalotra] has done an extraordinary job of bringing Yennefer to life before we meet her in the books,’ he said.
Major fan: Henry was a fan of the wildly popular Polish stories and novels before signing on to the series
The Man Of Steel star agreed that the series might be a simpler entry into the saga than the short stories and novels.
‘I think the people that haven’t read the books, that’ll actually be a lot easier for them to get into because they have the Yennefer and Ciri storylines, which are amazingly performed, from the get-go.’
The novels spawned a hugely popular series of three video games, but Hissrich made it clear that she and the show’s writers were going back to the original books for their adaptation, which meant there was simply too much material to fit into an eight-hour series.
Saving it: Hissrich defended not adapting everything from the lengthy series in an eight-hour season. The critically divisive show has been renewed for a second season; shown December 3
‘For purely logistical reasons, we can’t go page through page of the book and put it on screen,’ she said.
‘We have to pick and choose the best ways to introduce these characters and the stories we tell about them — and also keep in mind what we’re hoping to set up for the future. We’re in a lucky enough position now that we know there is going to be a Season 2 of The Witcher, so some of what we’re doing is laying down the building blocks for future seasons of stories we know we want to tell. And I always hate the losing from the source material, that’s the hardest thing.
‘Adding things can be fun and I think we do a lot of them, but there are certain complications to stories that we did have to lose on screen, usually for time and to make space to be with characters as they are growing and changing and developing,’ she added.
The series, which was released to Netflix on December 20 in its entirety, currently sports a paltry 58 percent rotten rating from Rotten Tomatoes, and a disappointing 33 percent among the most prestigious critics surveyed.
Netflix announced a second season for the series in November.
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