Freya Allan talks The Witcher: 'I got very harsh on myself for season one'
The Witcher's Ciri isn't a kid any more - and in our Big RT Interview, she's already looking ahead for what's next.
Freya Allan is in one of the biggest TV shows in the world, landing a leading role at just 17 and now back for a much-anticipated second season. As The Witcher’s Ciri, she’s been watched by millions of fans worldwide, burst into a high tier of acting in her first major part and brought a long-beloved character to life.
It’s a dream for plenty of young actors – but for the now 20-year-old Allan, there’s a definite sense of ambivalence about becoming a star, especially during a period where she was only just working out who she was as a young adult.
“Meeting new people, there’s always that new thing of: how are they going to take it when they find out?” she tells me. “You know, are they going to be just chill about it? Or are they going to be weird about it?
“So that’s something that I definitely have to navigate that’s different. I think if you’re around intelligent people, they sort of don’t see you differently, as they…”
“You know, I understand it is a very intriguing industry, and people think it’s very cool if you say you’re in a series or whatever. But ultimately, we’re still human beings. There shouldn’t be some sort of pedestal you’re put on.
“I just say to people: ‘This is my job, and that’s it, really. I’m a normal person other than that.’”
Forget the fame – the biggest change in her life, she notes, is just that she’s able to work and earn money while her peers are at uni, with Allan maintaining her life back home in Oxford, keeping in touch with friends and family and largely avoiding being recognised on the street. Well, mostly.
“It happened a few times on nights out in Berlin,” she says. “I didn’t expect it. I don’t know what’s going on in that town, but there are a lot of Witcher fans there. It was actually very funny in that sort of situation, to be like, ‘Oh, there’s Ciri, drinking a cocktail’ – after me looking like an eight-year-old in season one.”
She admits a certain self-consciousness about her season one look more than once during our interview, with her appearance – styled younger, with bleached eyebrows and plenty of makeup – affecting her sense of self-image more than she’d anticipated.
“I think before season one came out, I got very harsh on myself,” she tells me. “I was growing into a sort of woman, basically, and I think that I wasn’t very confident. You know, in the series, I’d been made to look like a 12-year-old. They bleached my eyebrows. They covered my face in white paste every day.
“I didn’t feel great about myself. I think when you’re sort of turning into an adult, and you’ve got that, and everyone’s about to see it – I think that did knock me a little bit beforehand. I think I felt very anxious about it all of a sudden, because I was like, ‘People are going to see me like that, but I’m sort of growing up now.’
“If I could give myself some advice back then, it would be to talk to people about that more than I did. I think I wasn’t in the best mind-set before it came out.”
Still, that’s all changed for season two. In the new episodes Ciri is closer to Allan’s appearance – you’ll notice her eyebrows have changed colour – and generally speaking, as with the woman playing her it’s a season where Ciri has to grow up.
“Season one was a disguise,” Allan says. “I don’t really look like that anymore. I looked so much younger then. Which is why I don’t know what the repercussion of season two will be [with fans], because I look a lot more like me than in season one. So we’ll see.
“I’d say that Ciri obviously has the repercussion of what she’s experienced through season one, in terms of the brutality of The Continent, and also having discovered that she clearly possesses some kind of power that she’s very afraid of. She definitely has a bit of a wall up, in terms of opening up.”
“It’s really exciting,” she adds. “I’ve been waiting for people to see this season for so long.”
Allan also has more action and stunts to deal with this time around, and like her on-screen counterpart it was hard for the stunt team to drag her away from the swordplay and obstacle courses.
“A month before filming started, I went into the stunt department, and would learn the basic sword work, and also, you know, just do other physical things to get fitter. And I absolutely loved it,” she laughs.
“The stunt coordinator was like, 'Are you ever going to leave?' Because I was just so obsessed with it. I found it so fun, and very similar to Ciri in that way, that I wanted to sort of do it all.”
Further ahead, Allan is hoping she gets even more action – she wants Ciri to become “an insane fighter,” as happens to the character in Andrzej Sapkowski’s original books and the fan-favourite spin-off videogames – and with season three of The Witcher already confirmed, there’s no sign of her journey in the series stopping any time soon.
“I might have actually seen some scripts, you know? Just putting it out there,” she tells me.
“I don’t know exactly, but [filming] will be not too long away. Yeah, it’s very exciting. I think it’s going to be a great season.”
But beyond that? Allan might already be eyeing up her exit from the glare of Netflix notoriety, and a potential typecast as the little girl both she and Ciri no longer are.
“I think I sort of am a bit resentful about going on too long, to be totally honest with you,” she admits. “I have a number in my head as to how long I would want to go. I think I want to finish the story, but, yeah, not do anything too much more.
“Because for me, I find that— you know, I’ve just played another character since season one, and that is what I want to do. I love playing Ciri. I think it’s so cool that I’ll be able to – if I do more series – look back and be like, ‘I’ve got this whole documentation of me growing up.’
“But at the same time, I want to be able to, you know, be an actor, and play other roles, and not like as Ciri my entire life.”
“So I think I have a sort of set thing in my mind about how long I really want to go. But, yeah, for now it’s still exciting. There’s so much story left to tell.”
Read more about The Witcher:
- The Witcher season 2 pokes fun at critics of the first season
- The Witcher season 1 recap: Where did we leave Geralt and Ciri?
- The Witcher’s Joey Batey reveals how Jaskier’s new season two song was born
- What are the monsters in The Witcher?
- The Witcher stars hint that another spin-off might be in the works
The Witcher season two is now streaming on Netflix. If you want a recap of what happened in the final episode of the season, you can read our The Witcher season 2 ending explainer.
For more, check out our dedicated Fantasy page, our guide to the best series on Netflix or our full TV Guide. Visit our Big RT Interview hub for more conversations with the biggest stars in TV and film.
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