Did you know Kristofer Hivju, AKA Game of Thrones’ Tormund Giantsbane, is in season two of The Witcher? This might be news to you even if you’ve watched the entire season (here’s your warning for very mild spoilers for the latest episodes of The Witcher), as Hivju had some serious prosthetics he donned for the show.
Hivju played Geralt’s old friend Nivellen, a magical man who was cursed to look like a boar and/or a bear. The transformation is so complete, however, that it’s easy to not realize Hivju and Nivellen are one in the same.
I, for one, had no idea that was Hivju under all those prosthetics until I stumbled upon the video above, which goes into detail how the show’s visual effects team created Nivellen, who Hivju describes as “a kind, funny, secretive kind of guy.” (Spoiler—he’s a horrible guy as well.)
About halfway through, you see Hivju getting rigged up in prosthetics, which includes a full bodysuit made off a mold of Hivju’s actual body. The actor’s performance, however, went beyond the Nivellen suit—Hivju worked with a movement coach to try to incorporate how a bear and/or boar moves into his performance (though how a bear and/or boar would be able to throw a knife is a bit beyond me).
And while Hivju had a full prosthetic bodysuit, the show did use CGI for his face. “I didn’t manage to make my face look like a boar,” he says. “I tried, though.” Hivju did wear what looked like the mask from a football helmet on set, which held a camera that captured his facial expressions for the CGI team.
Another Witcher actor who had to don a major monster costume was Basil Eidenbenz, who played the Witcher Eskel. Eskel eventually turns into a tree creature called a leshy, and had to undergo his own time in the makeup chair to get the look right. Check out that process below, which he posted to his Instagram.
Both seasons of The Witcher are now available on Netflix.