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Ciri and Geralt

Netflix Witcher Showrunner Leaves Social Media Amid Racial Casting Backlash

by Imran Khan on Sep 12, 2018 at 03:35 PM

The Witcher on Netflix is proceeding ahead pretty smoothly, with Netflix announcing the other day that Superman and Mission: Impossible Fallout star Henry Cavill will be taking on the role of Geralt. Now other casting-related news has resulted in a wave of angry messages toward the showrunner, Lauren S. Hissrich, prompting her to abandon social media.

The controversy arose when an unconfirmed casting call for the show suggested that the casting director was looking for a non-white actress for Ciri, Geralt's adopted daughter. In the Witcher games, she looks similar to Geralt in terms of skin tone, but the casting call is looking for someone that would likely look different from Henry Cavill.

Witcher fans, or people purporting to be Witcher fans, called out Hissrich for trying to change the character's race in what is often portrayed as a primarily caucasian continent. Hissrich said in May that she would not change character backgrounds for the sake of diversity, but insisted that is not what's happening.

Referring to the author of The Witcher series, Andrzej Sapakowski, Hissrich tweeted that "Mr. Sapkowski has said – publicly, and to me – that the Continent is big and diverse in its population, in every way (race, culture, gender, and yes, occasionally skin color, which he said he did not always specify). I'm not sure how people insinuate I'm destroying the books by recognizing that. I'm honoring the author's own intentions. He told me so himself."

Hissrich is being careful not to comment directly on the casting of Ciri, but she has seemingly had enough of the response. While she interacted with a large number of complainants, eventually accusations of ruining The Witcher got far more aggressive and gave way to death and other kind of threats.

"The love here is amazing, and the hate is enlightening, like a real-life Trials of the Grasses," referencing the trial Witchers go through to eat plants that morphed their bodies through a painful alchemical process and granted them their Witcher powers. 

Earlier in the year, Hissrich speculated that The Witcher Netflix series might land in 2020, but has recently backed off that target date.