Anya Chalotra, Freya Allan Discuss Season 1 & 2

Along with our press junket interview with showrunner Lauren Hissrich, we were honored to catch up with actors Anya Chalotra and Freya Allan. Our first meeting with the two was at the SDCC round table interviews: you can read the interviews with Anya here, and with Freya here.

I think both of you said you didn't read the books too much and that the script was where you were coming from, to reduce confusion. How has your understanding of your characters changed throughout season one?

Freya: I think at the start, I was daunted by the fact that I had some really huge scenes right at the beginning of filming. But actually, I was really thankful for those because it meant that I got closer to my character very, very quickly and it made the rest of filming a lot easier.

I feel like I did most of the discovering and connecting myself to the role right at the start because of those scenes. So I was kind of lucky to get to do that at the beginning, but obviously as you go along, you feel like you're getting to know your character even more.

Anya: Oh wow! I didn't know anything about The Witcher before I got my character breakdown for the audition and then obviously when I got the part, I immersed myself in the novels and the short stories. Then like I said, I find it really difficult to read ahead when we are focusing on Yennefer's backstory in the first stage of filming.

So really, I agree with my character and definitely feel⁠—because of season two being greenlit⁠—in a much more confident position to trust all the instincts that I had. I learned a hell of a lot! It's all new to me, this TV world. I've only had very little experience in that world, so I yeah, I'm looking forward to jumping right in!

Geralt’s foil is Jaskier—they bring out the best and the worst in each other. Would you say Ciri and Yennefer have foils, and if so, how do they bring out the personalities of your characters?

Freya: I think Dara for Ciri because she learned so much from him. He has a totally different perspective on life and a completely different origin and upbringing. And so, her mind is kind of opened because of him.

He provides that different perspective for her but at the same time, he also brings out a certain kind of anger and frustration in her. He believes that her grandmother is evil⁠—and she loves her grandmother⁠—so there's good and bad things that they bring out in one another.

Anya: I think the two most important relationships in Yennefer's life are Istredd, who she first meets outside her family. He really introduces magic to her and helps her understand what is happening. She had no idea she was capable of these things and it’s also her first taste of that really deep connection—something she’s never really experienced within her family.

Then you’ve got her goal to find a true connection and unconditional love. There's a mother figure in the series for Yennefer, who again, she has a deep connection to.

Despite calling her a “Piglet?”

Anya: Yeah! It's a tough love, but it's rooted in something. And I think she learns why it's tough as she has more of a relationship with her.

Geralt and Yennefer have what some would call a tumultuous relationship. Do you think their relationship is a love/hate for each other, or a self-loathing of themselves?

Anya: Such a brilliant question! That’s something I’ll have to think about for season two, don’t I?

She's yet to figure out how and I think initially is just this animalistic, lustful relationship. Yennefer finds herself drawn to him, it's magnetic, and she doesn't want to need anyone—but she needs him.

So yeah, I think when she finds out that it's a wish that's bonded them together, that's something that she thought she was in control of, so she has to reflect on herself a lot. That might be because the complications come from—not necessarily self-loathing—but the insecurities they have within themselves.

Yeah, I like that phrase. Not self-loathing, that’s too harsh.

We hear a lot about what it's like to work with Henry, but are there other actors that you enjoyed working with on set? We’d love to hear more about those.

Anya: Oh my gosh, thank you!

I mean, we all know about Henry, right?

Anya: Sophie (Holland Casting) did an amazing job casting this series because everyone is so lovely!

Freya: They were all intelligent, sweet people! So Bjorn (Hlynur Haraldsson), who plays Eist, was literally the funniest man. Adam Levy, he guided me through everything and was so sweet. And Jodhi May, I just watched her and it was just incredible! Yeah, I mean, all the actors I worked with were just incredible.

Anya: Yeah, and Joey (Batey) is one of my closest friends and he played Jaskier. He’s an absolute dream to work with and to share the whole experience with.

Who else? MyAnna (Buring) was a mother figure not only in the series, but (to me as) Anya. She was an absolute dream to work with! She obviously has a lot of experience in this industry and gave me so many pearls of wisdom.

Julian Rhind-Tutt is an incredible actor and an incredible man. Royce Pierreson is an absolute dream to work with—so lovely and brilliant! I mean, I could go on.

It’s nice to hear about the relationships other than with Geralt.

Anya: Yeah, absolutely! Especially in the series, we get the chance to have those relationships, because we're leading up to the three of them coming together.

Are there any lessons from filming season one that you'll carry over for season two?

Freya: Well, as actors, it’s confidence. We just learned how it feels to be with a character for that many months and the process of going in and getting used to the routine. I suppose that’s something that was quite new to us—to be on a project for so long and with a character for so long—so yeah, I guess we're just going to be able to take on season two with more gusto.

So what are your plans until season two starts?

Anya: Christmas with the fam!

Feya: Yeah, having a life! But, hopefully there will be some preparation to come with pre-production.

The first season of The Witcher will premiere on Dec. 20th and both actors seem excited to jump back into their roles for season two! What do you think? Let us know in the comments below or in our forum!

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