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The Witcher prequel Blood Origin casts its lead warrior

Jodie Turner-Smith will star as a new character

Portrait of Jodie Turner-Smith against sunbaked trees Photo: Netflix
Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

Anyone who has played The Witcher games or knows Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels knows there’s more to the mythology than the saga of Geralt of Rivia. “The Continent” was established by elves thousands of years before the events of Geralt’s stories, when the world was mostly populated by gnomes and dwarves. Then the humans eventually showed up and it all went to hell, as you can imagine. A cataclysmic event called Conjunction of the Spheres eventually tore spacetime in two, allowing beasties to creep in and wreak havoc. That’s the world Geralt knows, but the past is rich with possibilities.

Which explains why, after the first blockbuster season of The Witcher, Netflix promptly greenlighted a six-episode limited prequel series. The Witcher: Blood Origin will take place 1,200 years before the events of The Witcher, and recount the creation of the “first prototype Witcher,” per a synopsis, and the events that led to the Conjunction of the Spheres.

Who can fill Henry Cavill/Geralt’s boots? On Monday, Netflix announced the first major cast member for the series: Jodie Turner-Smith, who will star Éile. Described as an “elite warrior blessed with the voice of a goddess,” Éile has left her clan and position as Queen’s guardian at the beginning of the series “to follow her heart as a nomadic musician. A grand reckoning on the continent forces her to return to the way of the blade in her quest for vengeance and redemption.”

American audiences know Turner-Smith best from Queen & Slim and her recurring role on SyFy’s George R.R. Martin adaptation Nightflyers. But she’s a huge up-and-comer, appearing soon in A24’s After Yang with Colin Farrell and Amazon’s recent acquisition Without Remorse, a Tom Clancy adaptation opposite Michael B. Jordan.

Blood Origins was written by Witcher staff writer Declan de Barra. The Witcher creator Lauren Schmidt Hissrich will serve as executive producer, while Sapkowski will consult on the creative direction of the series. There’s no release date set for the series, but The Witcher season 2 is currently wrapping up production after COVID-19 delays, with an eye toward a 2021 release. A Witcher anime film is also in the works at Netflix. Amazingly, the first season premiered all the way back in December 2019 — but this franchise isn’t slowing down.

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