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The Witcher: Blood Origin - Behind the Scenes with Princess Merwyn star Mirren Mack
Princess Merwyn actress Mirren Mack talks to BT TV about The Witcher spin-off series Blood Origin, which is released on Netflix on Christmas Day.
Helping us get over the long wait for Henry Cavill’s return as Geralt in The Witcher season 3, Blood Origin will tell a story lost to time.
It is the story of the creation of the first prototype Witcher, and the events that lead to the pivotal conjunction of the spheres, when the world of monsters, men, and elves merged to become one.
The four-part series stars Sophia Brown and Laurence O’Fuarain as Éile and Fjall, two warriors estranged from their opposing clans. Michelle Yeoh takes the role of Scían, a sword master, the last of her tribe, Lenny Henry plays Chief Sage Balor, Joey Batey plays Jaskier and Minnie Driver stars as a Seanchaí.
Ahead of the show’s release on Netflix, BT TV caught up with Scottish rising star Mirren Mack – who plays elven Princess Merwyn – to find out some behind-the-scenes secrets…
1. How daunting is it joining The Witcher universe?
Gosh. Very daunting. I was absolutely cacking my pants, which is a not very polite way of saying I was terrified. Seriously though, I was so excited.
2. Were you a fan of The Witcher?
I love this world, I love fantasy. I couldn’t believe I was getting to play an Elvin princess. I was like "Are you sure?" This is the stuff my dreams are made of.
There is pressure of course, but I just want to give those who love The Witcher already – and those who are new to it – I want to keep all that love and lift it higher.
I want to support it. I don’t want Blood Origin to be anything but a positive for the fans.
3. How would you describe Merwyn?
She has such a huge palette of colours. There is ugliness and beauty, there is this huge mash of things going on. I’d say Merwyn is a princess born into a patriarchal monarchy, who lives in the shadow of her brother all her life. She’s viewed by many as a pawn to be used in a game and married off.
But she’s spent her life escaping into books and history and the richness of the tapestry of elf kind. She believes she has something to say and a way of saying it that could save this world and help it.
4. What is driving Merwyn to take some quite drastic action?
When she is silenced knowing she has this voice in her, she can’t take that and has to change her circumstances in order to save elf-kind. She’s a very driven and passionate person.
She also plays chess well. She’s very cunning. She’s deceitful. She always has a goal in her mind and is very calculated.
She doesn’t care how she gets there and what she has to cut to get to that point. I think it will catch up with her and she will feel it all, but right now she can’t see it.
The pathway to hell is paved with good intentions. She thinks she has the best intentions, but she’s wading deeper into hell to get there.
5. Merwyn's final scene is incredible. How much time did you spend talking about it?
When I was faced with that moment reading the script, it took my breath away. It still surprised me on set. It’s such great writing and storytelling and there were big discussions about understanding the decision that she makes. It’s really interesting because we got to explore who Merwyn is a little bit more through that scene.
6. What was the biggest challenge on set?
Sometimes you are in something so spectacular, and you look around you and your jaw will drop. This world is just full of magic. But I always thought within the sets, there were little things that really helped.
In Merwyn’s room, the books had been so well thumbed, because the set designers are just incredible, those little details really help you get to the heart of the story. The fact you can see Merwyn has pored over these books for years, it helps you find the humanity, or… elf-manity, in these big moments.
7. What was Lenny Henry like to work alongside?
He's an amazing human being. I loved getting to know him. We sat next to each other in the make-up chairs. We had a little wall between us because it was Covid-times, but he must have heard the same songs being played by me and the hair and make-up team blasting out every day. We were up from 4am and always blasting out Kate Bush, so bless him he had to listen to that quite often.
On set he was just incredible. He has such a lovely nature and he was doing so much in the world – he’d just done another big fantasy prequel show, he’d got his book out and he’d just turn up and be singing in the most beautiful voice. It was a real special time getting to work with him.
Watch The Witcher: Blood Origin on Netflix on Christmas Day