Fresh off her smash-hit awards contender Everything Everywhere All at Once, actor and martial artist Michelle Yeoh is set to make her debut in the Witcher-verse with prequel series Blood Origin.
Hurtling towards a Christmas release, the show takes place 1,200 years before the events of the main series, examining the history of the Continent and events leading up to the game-changing Conjunction of the Spheres.
The mysterious phenomenon will be familiar to readers of Andrzej Sapkowski's The Witcher novels as the moment that humans were thrown into the world of elves, leading to the elves' subsequent persecution.
Indeed, executive producer Lauren S Hissrich has teased the show will unravel the false idea that "humans brought civilisation to the elves", exposing that history unfolded rather differently indeed.
"What we're seeing in Blood Origin is that's exactly opposite of the truth," she told Entertainment Weekly. "The world was much more of a Golden Age than what we see in The Witcher years later."
Meanwhile, Blood Origin showrunner Declan De Barra added that there are parallels to be drawn between The Witcher's mythology and earth-shattering events in real-world history.
He explained: "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."
Against this backdrop, a "prototype Witcher" will emerge as the first of its kind, changing the face of history and laying the foundation for Geralt of Rivia's story so many years later.
If this series has already piqued your interest, check out our advance The Witcher: Blood Origin review or read on for everything else to know about the Netflix miniseries, including release date, cast and the latest trailers.
The Witcher: Blood Origin release date
The Witcher: Blood Origin is available to stream on Netflix from 8am (GMT) on Sunday 25th December 2022, also known as Christmas Day.
The miniseries is only four episodes long, meaning it should be a shorter watch than an average season of the main show, both of which have been eight chapters apiece.
The show was filmed between August and November 2021, before entering a lengthy post-production process required to breathe life into the giant monsters and epic action that franchise fans have grown accustomed to.
Who's in the cast of The Witcher: Blood Origin
Michelle Yeoh is already a sci-fi icon thanks to her role as Philippa Georgiou on Star Trek: Discovery – and now she's conquering fantasy television as well as part of The Witcher: Blood Origin cast.
The renowned Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star joined the prequel series in summer 2021, when she was announced as the deadly sword-elf Scían; the last of her nomadic tribe.
Her character's official description reads: "No one can come close to her artistry with the blade, and no one carries as much loss within their heart.
"When a chance presents itself to retrieve a stolen sacred sword, taken from her fallen tribe by nefarious means, she launches herself into a deadly quest that will change the outcome of the Continent."
Yeoh will star opposite Laurence O'Fuarain, an Irish actor who has previously appeared in Game of Thrones and Vikings, who has signed on to play the character of warrior Fjall.
Meanwhile, Sophia Brown (The Capture) will also feature as Éile, another principal character, described as “an elite warrior with the voice of a goddess” in a post shared to the show's Twitter feed.
"Her career as a nomadic musician gets cut short due to a grand reckoning on the continent," it continued.
Jodie Turner-Smith (Anne Boleyn) was originally cast in the role of Éile, but on 7th April 2021 it was announced she would no longer be appearing due to conflicting commitments.
A Netflix spokesperson said in a statement: "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."
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It has also been confirmed that The Witcher star Joey Batey will reprise his role as bard Jaskier in the prequel, serving as a narrator of sorts for this story set long before his character walked the Continent.
"The power of music and stories is at the heart of The Witcher: Blood Origin so it makes sense for Jaskier to be some kind of connective tissue between Blood Origin and the main show," Batey told Entertainment Weekly.
Batey will share his duties with franchise newcomer Minnie Driver as fellow storyteller Seanchai, who reports suggest will also appear across The Witcher's vast timeline due to her mysterious, ethereal nature.
The prequel also stars Mirren Mack (The Nest) as Merwyn, Nathaniel Curtis (It’s A Sin) as Brían, Sir Lenny Henry (Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power) as Chief Druid Balor and Dylan Moran (Black Books) in the role of Uthrok One-Nut.
The Witcher: Blood Origin trailer
Netflix has generously dropped several trailers for The Witcher: Blood Origin, which should be enough to tide over fans who just can't wait to feast their eyes on the new series.
The latest to drop gave us our most in-depth look at the show to date. Watch below:
This was preceded by a shorter teaser trailer, which offered a taste of what was in store. You can find that here too:
Our first look at The Witcher: Blood Origin actually came with the main show's second season, all the way back in December 2021, where it was featured as a post-credits treat. Here's a reminder of that reel for your convenience:
What is The Witcher: Blood Origin about?
The official synopsis for the prequel reads:
"Set in an elven world 1,200 years before the world of The Witcher, Blood Origin will tell a story lost to time - the origin of the very first Witcher, and the events that lead to the pivotal 'conjunction of the spheres,' when the worlds of monsters, men, and elves merged to become one."
Specifically, this means the show will tell an “original story” only hinted at in the Netflix show and author Andrzej Sapkowski’s series of novels, about how a cataclysmic cosmological event catapulted the human race into the previously-elven Continent, and the clash that resulted.
“A question has been burning in my mind ever since I first read The Witcher books,” showrunner Declan de Barra said. “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 civilisations, 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 colonisation and a rewriting of history. Leaving only fragments of a civilisation’s true story behind.
“The Witcher: Blood Origin will tell the tale of the Elven civilisation before its fall, and most importantly reveal the forgotten history of the very first Witcher.”
Information on this pivotal figure is even scarcer in The Witcher series of books (or the popular video games that spun off from them), so it could be that the new series will fill in some interesting gaps for fans.
“It is exciting that the world of Witcher – as planned in the very beginning – is expanding,” author Andrzej Sapkowski said. “I hope it will bring more fans to the world of my books.”
How does Blood Origin connect to The Witcher?
The Witcher: Blood Origin is expected to have only minor connections with the main series, with the most notable likely to be the reappearance of Jaskier (Joey Batey) in a small cameo role.
He revealed to Entertainment Weekly that he shot scenes for the prequel series over a period of just three days and so won't be a major presence on the show, although excitingly he did reference filming something with the stunt team.
There is also scope for more tangential connection between the two shows, such as through further exploration of the Witcher traditions, some of which were examined in detail during the second season.
Based on early teases, it certainly seems possible that Minnie Driver's Seanchai – described as a time traveller – could show up in The Witcher season 3, when it lands on Netflix in 2023.