The Witcher: Blood Origin creator explains how spin-off will explore a 'pre-colonized world' of elves
Hundreds of years before the events of Netflix's The Witcher, the Continent was home to a thriving elven empire. That will be at the center of the upcoming Blood Origin limited series coming to the streaming platform, according to its creator, Declan De Barra.
De Barra, who also serves as a writer on the main series starring Henry Cavill, opens up about his live-action spin-off in an interview with EW that explores the ever-growing cinematic universe of The Witcher.
"I just was fascinated with the idea of what a pre-colonized world would look like for the elves," the showrunner says. He then points to the original Witcher novels, written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski.
"He reinterprets folktales and history," De Barra mentions of Sapkowski's works. "And when you look at our own history, societies that had been at their height, like the Roman Empire or the Mayan Empire, that'd be right before the fall and then we're in dark ages again. That fascinated me to wonder what that world could have been: what society would have been like and what elves wanted. That's what we're going to explore here."
Blood Origin takes place 1,200 years before the events of The Witcher. Sophia Brown stars as Éile, a warrior of the Queen's guard who leaves to become a traveling musician. Michelle Yeoh will feature as Scían, the last of a nomadic tribe of sword-elves on a mission to retrieve a blade stolen from her people. Laurence O'Fuarain will also appear as the character Fjall, a man born into a clan of warriors sworn to protect a king but who sets out in need of vengeance after a loved one dies in battle trying to save him.
The six-episode series will chronicle the creation of the first prototype Witcher, as well as the events surrounding the Conjunction of the Spheres, the phenomenon that brought humans into the world of the elves.
"We have obviously heard in the Witcher show that humans brought civilization to the elves. They're the ones who showed them what it was like to be civilized. And in fact, what we're seeing in Blood Origin is that's exactly opposite of the truth," Lauren Hissrich, showrunner on The Witcher and executive producer on Blood Origin, explains. "The world was much more of a Golden Age than what we see in The Witcher years later."
There's a reason Blood Origin will premiere on Netflix after The Witcher season 2, which drops on the streamer this Dec. 17. Elven characters will feature in season 2, including Mecia Simson as Francesca, and Hissrich tells EW the writers can "dig into the elven story even more" in the recently approved third season, "knowing we now have this past [in Blood Origin] that we can reflect upon."
In fact, when EW spoke with Hissrich at the start of October, she mentions how the writers would sometimes "rewrite an arc" in the third season planning "in order to match what great dailies we just saw from Blood Origin."
"It really is about the being flexible and making sure that we are using all of these tools at our disposal," she adds.
The concept of Blood Origin stemmed from a season 2 meeting of the writers room. They reached an impasse in the story. "We were trying to understand what the world was like for elves right before the Conjunction of the Spheres," De Barra says. "It's very vague in the books as to what happened. I got out a whiteboard and sketched out this plan of what I thought."
That seed didn't sprout until after Netflix executive Kelly Luegenbiehl and Hissrich approached him about ideas for a prequel to The Witcher. De Barra had a dream about what would become Blood Origin and then a couple days later wrote it all down on the back of a cafe napkin. These days, he's dealing with the challenges of actually making it a reality.
Phoning in from the set, De Barra remarks, "We're getting rained on and the wind is up. So we're having to scramble to figure out how we're going to shoot tonight, but it's all good. We were in Iceland to start off for about two or three weeks and then got all our location work done. And now we're on stages. We built these crazy stages. They're awesome. Every time I see them, I just can't believe they're real."