Andrzej Sapkowski, whose books have been adapted into the new show, shares what inspired him

By Sam Gillette
December 20, 2019 03:12 PM
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Game of Thrones fans, slip into your comfiest pajamas — another fantasy series (with dragons!) for you to binge-watch just dropped on Netflix.

The Witcher, which premiered Friday on the streaming service, is based on an eight-book series by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski and has already inspired a massively popular video game series. In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Sapkowski gives insight into the latest adaptation, which stars Henry Cavill as Geralt.

“I was more than happy with Henry Cavill’s appearance as The Witcher,” Sapkowski explained via email. “He’s a real professional. Just as Viggo Mortensen gave his face to Aragorn [in The Lord of the Rings], so Henry gave his to Geralt — and it shall be forever so.”

Torsten Silz/DDP/AFP via Getty

The show is centered round the battle between good and evil — but it’s a line that often blurs. Geralt is a witcher (an assassin with magical abilities) who is tasked with killing monsters that torment the inhabitants of The Continent. The series also stars Anya Chalotra as the sorceress Yennefer and newcomer Freya Allan as Ciri.

Keep reading for more from the interview.

It’s been reported that you wanted the show to “tell the story of three orphans looking for a place in the world.” What do you think makes the characters Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri, and their relation to each other, so intriguing?

I consider it quite a good way to create the story, to build a plot. Readers do like it — and I hope viewers will also.

Henry Cavill as Geralt in The Witcher
Katalin Vermes

How did mythology and fairy tales inspire you when you first started creating The Continent and the monsters in it?

To a great extent, I would say. I borrowed — or adapted — a lot from all kinds of existing mythologies. I have also invented a lot of them myself, from scratch, so to say. Anything that helped the plot was welcome.

What other fantasy series do you admire? How much did the world building in The Lord of the Rings inspire you?

What series do I admire? As far as movies/TV series are concerned, there is The Lord of the Rings and there is The Game of Thrones, it would be difficult to name more. As books are concerned: both of the above, plus series by Ursula Le Guin, Roger Zelazny, Fritz Leiber, Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Jack Vance, Piers Anthony, David Eddings, Alan Dean Foster, Glenn Cook, Terry Brooks, Patricia McKillip, Stephen R. Donaldson, Stephen King, Tad Williams, Charles de Lint, Guy Gavriel Kay, Orson Scott Card, Robert Jordan, Barbara Hambly, Dave Duncan, Joe Abercrombie, Ben Aaronovitch, Holly Black, Robert R. McCammon, Ann Leckie. And many more.

RELATED VIDEO: The Witcher‘s Henry Cavill Liked Wearing Yellow Contacts Even Though He ‘Couldn’t See Much’

How much is the Netflix show in keeping with the storyline in the book series? How much did you guide the show?

Not much, I confess. I strongly believe in the freedom of the artist and his artistic expression. I rarely interfere. And very rarely try to impose my view on another artist.

What motivates Geralt and how does that change over time?

It is complicated. Watch the series. And read the books. The answers are there.

What do you want viewers to take away as Geralt continues on his journey, especially as the line between what’s good and evil blurs?

I shall be happy if the viewers — and readers — take anything away, anything that shall enrich them in some way. Also, I sincerely hope to leave the viewers — and readers — hot. In every sense. Not tepid, not lukewarm.

The Witcher season 1 is streaming on Netflix now.