Change is afoot on the Continent. The Witcher season 3 marks a series of beginnings with new characters and new threats, as well as a very significant ending as Henry Cavill prepares to say farewell to Geralt of Rivia. In the midst of all this, war is brewing as enemies of all kinds set their sights on Ciri (Freya Allan), while Geralt (Cavill) and Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) try desperately to keep her safe.
All in all, it’s an intimidating world to step into. But it’s also one that Cassie Clare, who plays mage Philippa Eilhart, took in her stride. Introduced in the season two finale, the third season sees her character at the heart of a whole lot of political scheming in Redania. To keep track of everything going on, the actor tells GamesRadar+ that she made herself a very detailed binder.
"Her journey is tracked in that folder," she beams about the preparation. "At certain moments, I would see that a bit more information is revealed that would mean maybe this person is to be trusted. But one thing I would say about Philippa is if you feel that she's learning something at the moment, you should probably assume she's already 10 steps ahead."
Almost all of her scenes are opposite another schemer in Graham McTavish’s Dijkstra – and in season 3, he goes to some pretty brutal places to secure his position of power. Although he’s reluctant to focus too much on the comparison, this is something the actor is no stranger to after his time on Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon.
"One of the things I really appreciate about The Witcher is the humor, actually," McTavish muses. "The humor of all the characters, Dijkstra being one of them. Everybody has humorous interchanges, and I think that personally distinguishes the shows."
With a wry smile he adds, "In terms of Dijkstra, he’s very kind, very thoughtful, you just don't get to see a lot of that. Yes, his obsession with macrame and knitting are really very well known in Redania, it’s just you don’t get to see it."
Love is in the air
Philippa isn’t the only new kid on the block either, as Prince Radovid joins the already complicated Redanian court. Played by Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’s Hugh Skinner, the character is at the heart of the royal family, but a certain bard brings his loyalties into question.
"I think Radovid when we first meet him is totally lost," Skinner explains of his new character. "I don’t think anyone has ever been as honest with him before as Jaskier is. He’s heard some of the songs, he’s a big fan. I don’t think he wants to get involved with these two, with Phillippa and Dijsktra, but he’s pleased Jaskier is there. He’s absolutely captivated by him and ultimately that’s what gets him out of his depth."
Indeed, Jaskier has long been one of the most charming characters in the show, bringing levity to the dark twists and turns of the fantasy hit. In season 3, we get to see a new side to him as well as he gets a few romantic partners in what he’s previously dubbed his "hot girl summer".
"I slightly regret saying that," Batey laughs when GR+ brings the description up, before he adds that the new storylines were "really rewarding". "I think we've talked a lot about it and it's referred to in passing throughout seasons one and two," the actor continues. "He has some romantic relations with other people but it was really nice when Lauren [Schmidt Hissrich, showrunner] came to me with these romantic plotlines."
However, the Jaskier star did make some changes to them. "I insisted on putting a book character in," he explains. "I said, 'Can we please have Vespula in there please.' We have this scene from the book, and it was just nice to be able to return to that and the scene with Vespula is the scene that I auditioned with five years ago. So it just felt really full circle and I felt very settled in the character."
An expanding universe
The Witcher as a franchise has certainly come a long way since we first met the White Wolf back in 2019. Since then, multiple spin-offs have explored the world created by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski – and expanded by the beloved CD Projekt Red games.
Creating a story on such an epic scale requires a lot of work behind the scenes, which is something the show’s armorer Nick Jeffries knows all too well. Crafting hundreds of weapons for each new season, he admits that his team doesn't "have much of a downtime".
Jeffries shares that he doesn’t have many rules when creating the weapons, apart from making sure they all have a consistent time period. "Everything has the look that it's manufactured between about 1400 and 1475," he explains. "If I make a Roman sword, I'll try and make a Roman sword like it was made by a medieval armorer."
Another thing that Jeffries ensures is that a lot of care is put into each and every prop. "I have a little process where I have to invent a backstory for everybody so I have my own mini background for every character," he smiles. "If I trace it back, then I can come forward, and that’s what gives them the object that they’ve got."
The heart put into this world is made all the more magical when the cast and crew see how audiences react, shares Therica Wilson-Read, who plays mage Sabrina Glevissig. "I don’t think you can really comprehend it," she admits. "Playing this part and being part of this family and doing this job has actually always been such a dream come true for me so I'm always overwhelmed. And then you see it come out and you see it evolve and you see it grow."
Netflix will certainly be hoping it does just this in a time of flux for the popular show. And with season 4 already in the works, and a rumored fifth season also planned, it seems the Witcher expansion has no plans of slowing down yet.
For more on The Witcher season 3, read our interview with stunt coordinator Wolfgang Stegemann and what the cast have to say about Liam Hemsworth's entry.
The Witcher season 3 volume 1 arrives on Netflix on June 29 and volume 2 arrives on July 27.