Kristofer Hivju Transforms Into Nivellen in The Witcher Clip



The Witcher season 2 premiered on Netflix last December to rave reviews from both critics and audiences alike. Starring Henry Cavill and Freya Allan in the lead, The Witcher season 2 has been declared a huge improvement over the muddled first season. But it’s not just the storytelling that has gotten better; the performances, costumes, make-up, and especially the CGI have improved as well. And the changes are on full display in the opening episode of The Witcher season 2.

Based on the short story “A Grain of Truth” from the second book in Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher series, The Last Wish, season two’s first episode sees Geralt and Ciri coming across Nivellen, a cursed man resembling a fusion of a bear and a boar. Norwegian actor Kristofer Hivju, best known for playing Tormund Giantsbane in Game of Thrones, plays Nivellen. Although Hivju only appears in one episode, he delivers a stellar performance, leaving a lasting impression on viewers. In a recently released behind-the-scenes clip from The Witcher, Hivju details his transformation into the character. You can check out the clip below.

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Hivju describes Nivellen as “a mixture of a boar, a bear, and a human. He has magical abilities, and he is a kind, funny, and secretive kind of guy. He ended up in a situation that got him cursed, and that’s why he looks like he does.”

Nivellen’s story is inspired by Beauty and the Beast, but there is a lot more to it. Nivellen harbors a disturbing secret about his curse and his relationship with a Bruxa named Vereena. Hivju discusses the long and painstaking process of creating Nivellen, which surprisingly was done using prosthetics and practical effects. Only the face was created with CGI and motion capture.

“Getting into the physical side of Nivellen was a long process. It really feels like a collaboration between so many people to make Nivellen. Because I have never played in full prosthetics before, Barrie Gower and his amazing team made a full cast of my body and they made the suit upon that, so it fitted me as a hand in a glove. It was like directly made on me, you can say. I felt like I could express myself. I had a great time working with my movement coach Paul, and we studied boars and bears and tried to figure out like how do they move. We tried to find these animalistic, but still gentleman-ishy movements, because Nivellen is a gentleman. And he’s an entertainer, and he’s a showman. That was a paradox that we enjoyed playing with. I loved that we did it for real.”

At first glance, Nivellen does look quite real, from his mannerisms to facial expressions and voice. What could have been a completely animated character was instead brought to life using practical effects. In addition, Nivellen’s story is one of the best parts of Sapkowski’s novels. So the makers went to great lengths to portray him properly, and Kristofer Hivju got to display his terrific acting chops.

“The only thing that is CGI is the face, because I didn’t manage to make my face look like a bear, I tried though. I had an opening in the mask, with a camera to capture my facial expressions. So that made it real when it came to playing with other actors. because then I had eye contact. So it’s one of the most interesting things I’ve ever done. Because it felt like a… a true transformation.”

The Witcher premiered its sophomore season on Netflix on December 17, 2021. Along with Henry Cavill as the titular monster hunter, Freya Allan, Anya Chalotra, Joey Batey, Mimî M. Khayisa, MyAnna Burin, Anna Schaffer, Eamon Farren, and Kim Bodnia also star in The Witcher. Being one of the biggest hits of Netflix, The Witcher has been renewed for season 3. While the show won’t be returning anytime soon, be sure to check out the first two seasons of The Witcher exclusively on Netflix.

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Mudit Chhikara
(158 Articles Published)

Mudit Chhikara is a news writer at MovieWeb. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electronics, but being a lifelong cinephile, Mudit decided to write about movies for a living.

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