The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf's Writer Teases What's Next for the Universe
Narayan Liu
Beau DeMayo is one of several writers that bring Andrzej Sapkowski's The Witcher to life on the small screen. DeMayo was creatively involved with some of the Netflix series' key episodes, including "Betrayer Moon," "The End's Beginning" and "Much More." The screenwriter and producer has gone even further with the Continent for the anime tie-in film, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, which uncovers the history of the School of the Wolf.
DeMayo recently spoke to CBR about Netflix's upcoming tie-in, a project that introduces new characters and events to The Witcher's history. DeMayo explained his vision for Nightmare of the Wolf and why he believes the film will satisfy even the most die-hard fans of The Witcher in its exploration of Kaer Morhen and Vesemir -- a history that has been hinted at in both the novels and CD Projekt Red's critically-acclaimed video games but never fully explored.
So first off, when you did enter The Witcher, what was it about the fantasy world that stood out to you?
Beau DeMayo: I think the thing that stood out to me most with Witcher, in particular, is-- I'm adopted. I think just that idea -- my siblings are also adopted. I think what the Witcher is ultimately telling us is a story about unlikely families that find each other -- people who are not of blood that still are family. Growing up, that was my mom's whole thing -- that family isn't blood. It's more than blood. And I think the thing that just clicked me into Witcher was that kind of the relationship between Geralt and Ciri and Yennifer in terms of this family that is not bound by blood but... In the Witcher world, bound by destiny... It always spoke very personally to me.
So, Nightmare of the Wolf, it's about Vesemir most of all, and Kaer Morhen. Both Andrzej Sapkowski's Blood of Elves and CD Projekt Red's The Witcher 3 hint at his past, but they never fully explore it. Did either of those depictions influence your approach when you were writing his backstory?
Yes, absolutely. I came to The Witcher before I even was on the show. I was playing the video games. I was reading the books in college. And you know, something that always struck me with Vesemir specifically was, there was a friendliness to hit and -- especially in Witcher 3, especially when it came to Ciri -- that kind of Uncle [or] Grandpa vibe that... Geralt isn't the most stoic witcher in the world. And that was the first kind of grain of how I started thinking about who was Vesemir at the start of his career, before the horrible things that happened with the witchers in the canon. I think that was probably the biggest genesis -- just that twinkle in his eye that he always seemed to have in both the books and in the games, and then kind of aging that down to someone who's in his youth and in his prime.
You mentioned that Kaer Morhen was sort of reshaped by this huge event. What do you see as being some of the biggest differences between Vesemir's time and Geralt's time in terms of what the Witcher profession looks like?
When you look at Vesemir's time in canon, and the novels, Vesemir is an active witcher before the fall of Kaer Morhen, which we don't know much about at all, actually. And I think, one, just there were more witchers. And you could make witchers during his time. And I also think during Vesemir's time as a witcher, there was more of [an] intersection between the court and witchers. In my mind, at least. And again, this is a very unexplored territory in both the canon, video games, books, and now the series, that I think it wasn't as-- there was a taboo nature to being a witcher, but I do think by Geralt's time, that taboo has only increased. I think that's probably the biggest difference I see between the two of them. Mostly just seems like lonelier work for Geralt, but that could also be just because of Geralt.
Was it intimidating, when you were writing Nightmare of the Wolf, to introduce so many new characters to this world?
Yeah, as a self-described fanboy. I'm always the person who's like, "Wait, who are they? Who's that? Who are they making up? What are they doing? Batman doesn't have a sidekick named blah blah blah." Yeah, it was intimidating... But at the end of the day, I just tried to trust and tell the best story possible that serviced Vesemir, that services the franchise as a whole and just the spirit of The Witcher and Lauren's vision for the whole show as it is. But also filling in these gaps that I know as a fan that I was curious about. You know, we still don't know a lot about mages. Even when you read the books, you still don't know a lot about mages. There's a lot of mystery there. So I just tried to go like, "What are the areas that if I was a fan, I wouldn't mind someone creating a character to answer that unanswerable mystery in the Witcher canon?"
Speaking of, you know, the fans. There are a lot of differences between the lore in Netflix's Witcher world and the books, and arguably the game. There's always a little bit of heated debate among fans in these huge franchises. How much of a concern was all that to you when you were writing this with regard to the lore?
I do come from a place where I do want fans to feel a part of the project. Like even looking at the teaser trailer, you can hear literal quotes from the novel being grafted in there and put into character's mouths. That was very important to me, that this feels like something that is always bowing at the altar of what Sapkowski created. So that's always going to be a pride of place and on my mind. I can tell you though that I never really felt, at least with this project, that I was ever really stepping out of line with what I think fans would want.
Because, again, I came to Witcher before I got this job. I was just as much a fan before as I am now after, that I kind of just trusted my own Spidey-sense of like, "If this would piss me off, then it would probably piss most fans off because I'm pretty much that person." So I trusted my gut and my North Star always. I can't say without spoiling, but there's a particular passage that after the movie comes out... [It] will make sense. That was my North Star, from the novels, that was my North Star for the project that kind of always kept me feeling comfortable that I was doing right by fans.
Being as vague as you like, what is one moment or scene that you can't wait for Witcher fans to see?
It occurs at the end and it is very crazy. I'm trying to think of how to put it in a nonvague way. Uh, it is something we have not seen ever in any of the Witcher mediums, which was the intention when Studio Mir and I talked about it, was kind of where we came at it.
Which character from Nightmare of the Wolf would you say you relate to the most?
I know, surprising answer. I really hope that doesn't say too much about me. You know, Tetra is just someone who's sincerity and earnestness is so core to her character and not that-- I mean, it sounds insincere to say I'm overly sincere, but I'm a southern boy, I was raised by a southern mom. And so like, that southern hospitality thing, I've never shaken. And sometimes especially in Los Angeles, you'll meet people like, 'Oh, southern hospitality is a real thing. Like you guys are kind of cheesy.' And there's something about Tetra's, like just kind of, sincerity in herself that I really enjoy and see a lot of myself. And I wish I could say it was Vesemir, I wish I was the ultra-confident, swashbuckling, charismatic Casanova, but that is not me. I am more likely the mage who's like, 'Magic must be pure!'
Okay, so very last question. Were there any other animated or anime Witcher projects that you and Lauren Hissrich discussed?
Cannot answer!
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf will be available on Netflix Aug. 23.