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SYFY WIRE The Witcher

The Witcher prequel 'Blood Origin' loses key star ahead of production start

By Josh Weiss

The Continent is moving forward without Jodie Turner-Smith. Per Variety, the Nightflyers and Queen & Slim star has parted ways with Netflix's Witcher six-episode prequel, Blood Origin, over a scheduling conflict. Until now, Turner-Smith was supposed to play one of the lead characters, a warrior by the name of Éile. Gifted with a voice of gold, she leaves her post as guardian of the queen to pursue a nomadic life as a traveling singer. Jaskier, where you at?!

“Due to a change in the production schedule for The Witcher: Blood Origin limited series, unfortunately Jodie Turner-Smith will no longer be able to continue on in the role of Éile,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to Variety.

Declan de Barra is showrunning and executive-producing Blood Origin, which takes place a little over 1,000 years before the events of the main show. It will center around the very first Witcher and explain how the worlds of men, monsters, and elves became one (an occurence known as the “conjunction of the spheres"). The Witcher showrunner/executive producer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich is attached as an EP, while Andrzej Sapkowski (writer of the fantasy novels upon which the Netflix projects are based) serves as a creative consultant. The shoot is expected to kick off in the U.K. soon. Laurence O’Fuarain was recently cast as Fjall, a soldier with a haunted past.

"As a lifelong fan of fantasy, I am beyond excited to tell the story The Witcher: Blood Origin," de Barra said last summer. "A question has been burning in my mind ever since I first read The Witcher books – What was the Elven world really like before the cataclysmic arrival of the humans? I’ve always been fascinated by the rise and fall of civilizations, how science, discovery, and culture flourish right before that fall. How vast swathes of knowledge are lost forever in such a short time, often compounded by colonization and a rewriting of history. Leaving only fragments of a civilization’s true story behind. The Witcher: Blood Origin will tell the tale of the Elven civilization before its fall, and most importantly reveal the forgotten history of the very first Witcher."

"I am so thrilled to collaborate with Declan and the Netflix team on The Witcher: Blood Origin," added Hissrich. "It’s an exciting challenge to explore and expand The Witcher universe created by Andrzej Sapkowski, and we can’t wait to introduce fans to new characters and an original story that will enrich our magical, mythical world even more."

Production on Season 2 of the flagship series wrapped last month after several setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and an on-set injury involving lead cast member Henry Cavill (he plays the titular Witcher, Geralt of Rivia). Nevertheless, the sophomore outing is still expected to premiere later this year. In addition, Netflix is working on an anime film, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf.