You don’t have to look far on these pages to see that we’re pretty fond of everything to do with The Witcher. The games? Big fans. The books? The team’s been reading them. And the Netflix show of late 2019? A strong start indeed to what should be a long-term franchise for the streaming platform.
The latest reports regarding The Witcher – and we’re talking about that TV show, now – involve the hopeful casting of Mark Hamill as the old, mentor-figure witcher Vesemir. A character who’ll be familiar to both the readers of the books and players of the games, Vesemir is something of a father-figure for the witcher of the series, Geralt. Hamill has become a big favourite for the role, and has apparently been offered it, according to recent reports.
But the show’s makers – assuming they have reached out to the man who made Luke Sykwalker a generations-spanning household name – didn’t start with Hamill. At least, that’s the word from other reports, which claim that Netflix looked to a couple of other actors for the role of Vesemir, both of whom turned it down.
Gamerant writes that both Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, The Hunt, Doctor Strange, Death Stranding) and Michael Keaton (Batman, Toy Story 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Call of Duty: Black Ops II) were approached by Netflix, but passed on playing Vesemir. The site’s source is writer Daniel Richtman, who they claim is known for his insider scoops when it comes to TV and movies. Richtman put out the claim as a “fun fact” on Twitter.
I guess I can see why these actors were approached – assuming they were and this isn’t so much baloney. Keaton has grown from the best Bruce Wayne cinema’s ever seen to a reliably gruff and grisly presence in any and every project he graces. He’s got the kind of scowl that positively screams Vesemir. But he’s also 68 years old, and despite appearing in some action films in recent years, you wonder just how much of a beating he could take in what looks like a very physically demanding show.
That said, Mark Hamill is also 68 – indeed, he’s only 20 days younger than Keaton. Hamill’s also kept most of his recent work off-camera, prioritising voice-overs instead of on-screen appearances. So I can’t say for certain that he’d really be my ideal Vesemir, either. Vesemir’s an old-timer, sure, but he can still swing a sword with the best of them.
Which leaves Mads, who – at 54 years old and with a background in gymnastics and dancing – you’d think would certainly be more suited to a role where his joints are going to get a regular workout. And as someone who a lot of Witcher fans were eyeing up as Geralt himself, before Henry Cavill signed on the line, him agreeing to play Vesemir would have been a nice nod to that earlier enthusiasm.
All three actors have worked across film, television and video games in the past – Mikkelsen most recently put in an award-winning turn as Cliff in Hideo Kojima’s messy but ambitious Death Stranding. I don’t doubt that any one of them would work, ultimately, as Vesemir, and be welcomed by the Witcher’s growing fanbase. But if it’s gonna be Hamill, so be it. I can’t quite see him getting so nuts, mind. Because, if you wanna get nuts come on, let’s get nuts.
Season two of The Witcher is being filmed this year, for release in 2021. An animated feature that bridges the seasons, Nightmare of the Wolf, is due out later in 2020 and is said to be something of a Vesemir origin story.