The Witcher is back for Season Three and this time, it’s in two parts! It’s also the last season of Henry Cavill as Geralt and sees monarchs, mages, and beasts of the Continent compete to capture young Ciri. While Geralt takes Ciri into hiding, Yennefer is entrusted with Ciri’s magical training and leads them to the protected fortress of Aretuza, where they hope to uncover more about the girl’s untapped powers; instead, they discover they’ve landed in a battlefield of political corruption, dark magic, and treachery…
The show always looks incredible and we had to find out more, so we spoke to The Witcher Make-up and Hair Designer Deb Watson (who has been working on the show since Season Two) about the look of the new series, that incredible episode at the mage ball and why she doesn’t go to the videogame for inspiration…
What ideas did you discuss around the look for Season Three of The Witcher?
One of the big notes was the ball. It was described loosely as the Met Gala for the mages, which was super exciting. You know when you have a bunch of cast come in, and then you trot down the hall to see Lucinda the costume designer and we’re poring over fabrics and textures and feathers and sparkle – you name it, it was all there. Lucinda and I were like kids in a candy shop!
There was also a brief about the journey of Ciri in particular; the blossoming of a young woman into young womanhood. That awareness of her losing a little bit of her naivety as a child and becoming more of a teenager. That sense of rebellion but that sense of strength, the finding the security and the family. That leads to Yennifer’s character who is also a woman who has discovered that, actually, she is a mother, and the thing that she thought she’d never get has landed in her lap. It’s brought out a particular fierceness in her but also a softness because it’s her love. So I wanted to soften her look a little bit, to be able to let that love come out, and let that fierceness come out and not be clouded by too much makeup.
I mean, Anya is innately beautiful inside and out, so it was nice to be able to help her through that and then get to something like the ball look for her, where we could then really push her sensuality and her stunning gorgeousness.
Are there any particular characters you like working with on the show?
There are probably too many for this wee interview! We have a really great cast across the board.
Working with Cassie Clare (who plays Philippa Eilhart) and being able to do really strong, fabulous black hairstyles which made her feel strong and fabulous and empowered. And working with Joey as Yaskier and being able to work with him about very subtle things with his character – taking from broader strokes to very soft strokes, bringing out the rock and roll and the romance in him.
We’ve also some dryads coming up and being able to look at what was created in Season One and go ‘ooh where can I take that and run with it?’ And I’ve run with it! Mike Cooley and I collaborated on the dryads together and I think we’ve done a fantastic thing.
I had my crowd designer, Katherine Warren work really closely with me building incredible hair pieces. I’m really excited for the fans to see where we’ve gone with it. I think they’re really cool.
Stregobor, weirdly, is a real favourite for me, Lars [Mikkelsen] is such a joy to work with. You know, the challenge of getting his eyebrows on straight every day!
It’s a hugely fun and fantastic job for me because it enables me to be highly creative and push boundaries. Sometimes I have people on my team looking at me going ‘you want us to do what?’ But then we all get into it and then we all get really excited.
We have a lot of play time, but it’s very serious. We have a lot of workshopping with the actors where we do lots of testing. We all know what’s coming up and I’ll get them back two, three, four or five times working on a look with them and the artists that’s going to be eventually doing that look. We take lots of photos and we evolve everything as we’re going because we are constantly striving for excellence and the best that we can possibly pump out. It’s just such a fun!
Is there any look this season that you’re particularly proud of?
I’m really proud of the dryads and I’m really proud of where we’ve taken the looks for Cassie.
The whole show is a challenge, which I find immensely exciting. I love to nail a challenge. The challenge for me is to create a very well-rounded, visually fat sumptuous feast that is in some ways slightly unexpected. That isn’t just the same narrative trotted out visually.
I feel like I’ve encapsulated the essence of what is written in the story, but I’ve bought it alive in a really interesting way.
Do you take any inspiration from The Witcher source material?
From source material. I read the books. I don’t watch the video games, and I do that specifically so that I’m not influenced.
We have to create a different Witcher world to the videogames. Although we’re both working from the same source material, I’m not allowed to copy what’s in the videogames.
So when I read the story, I have to come up with: what does Deb see? I’m a fantasy geek, and have been since I was a little girl. When I read stories, I see myself in the story. I don’t see little blonde Deb running around being those things. For example, I grew up on Lord of the Rings, I read that book over and over until I knew it inside out and back to front. And I would be Frodo Baggins or I would be Galadriel or I would be Gimli and I would be those people, but in my head I had imagined that character.
When I read The Witcher, when I came on for Season Two, I watched Season One, and I started reading all the books. I still love to listen to the audiobooks of them, especially when I’m starting to roll up into prep. Because I just like listening to the story in the back of my head. I’m in that world, I’m cruising along with all those people doing all those things. So that I can imagine that.
Then once I’ve imagined that, then I’m also driven in part, design-wise, by the casting. There might be a difference in the casting to what’s written on the paper, so I have to look back to the source material. The story, the book for what those personality elements might be of the character as opposed to how they’re necessarily written in the book.
Then I start looking into the wider world of the internet and whatever other sources are around to start helping me find those tools to bring that character to life.
So it might not be what’s expected as à la the source original material, but I’m hoping that I’m finding the personality of that character and creating a different version of that.
The Witcher Season 3 volume one and two are out now.