Fans of The Witcher: season three is fast approaching, and Therica Wilson-Read is returning as fiery sorceress Sabrina Glevissig. We sat down with Therica to chat all things season three, wearing specific perfume to enter a character’s headspace, and starring in the upcoming Amy Winehouse biopic, Back to Black.
Interview: Therica Wilson-Read On Playing Sabrina Glevissig In The Witcher
Hi Therica, how’s life going at the moment?
It’s very exciting. I always find there is a mix of terror and excitement when a show is coming out. I can’t wait to see what people think, and to show the hard work everyone in the cast and crew has done. Robert Breeson once said that ‘a film is born three times. First in the writing of the script, once again in the shooting and finally in the editing’ – so there is a magic and nervous energy at seeing how the show has changed since you were on set.
You’re about to return as Sabrina Glevissig in The Witcher – can you give us an elevator pitch for the show for anyone who hasn’t watched before?
Here goes… The Witcher is an adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski’s books. Set in a mediaeval dark fantasy world rife with political unrest, a monster hunter, Geralt of Rivia, finds and fights for his family constantly battling against monsters – some beasts, some human.
What can viewers expect from the new season?
I’m nervous to give any spoilers away, but there are so many exciting things happening in season three. This season is based on the ‘Time of Contempt’ and, to name a few things mentioned by others, the family unit of Geralt, Yennefer and Ciri are reunited (but for how long?), Jaskier falls in love, there is a battlefield of political corruption…
For Sabrina, she battles what she thinks is the right thing to do and the fall out of losing people she deeply loves. You may also see her try and seduce as well as deepening friendships and rivalries.
Can you describe Sabrina?
She is powerful, feisty, opinionated and influential in the political arena. She’s incredibly confident in what she thinks and her body, and doesn’t like to be proved wrong or to be second best. She uses anything and everything to gain and maintain power. However, underneath all of this she was never fully accepted by her mother, and showed her grievance by turning her mother fat. She is fiercely loyal to the people she loves, even Yennefer – albeit she hates to show it.
What is it like playing her?
Sabrina brought out a confidence in me that I really didn’t know I had. Yes, she has her insecurities and moments of vulnerability but, for the most part, she’s incredibly sure of herself which feels empowering to play. However, she can also be cutting and mean at points which, although is fun to play with, never feels so good in my body. When she’s fun, she’s very fun. When she’s mean, she’s very mean. When she loves, she loves so deep she risks her life for that person.
This is your third season as Sabrina – is it a comfortable character to play now?
Yes and no. The writers are constantly developing her arc and, as the show grows, her relationships deepen and she meets new people, you always find out more about her character. She does feel like a second skin in that I know how she moves, thinks and how she approaches different scenarios. With every season, though, I go back to the books, games and rewatch the previous seasons to try to centre myself in her world. I do also have to say thank you to the hair, makeup and costume team, as they go hand in hand in creating Sabrina.
How has it felt being part of such a hugely successful show?
When we started filming back in season one, I didn’t and couldn’t have ever comprehended how big the show would become. I did, however, know that there was a great fan base from the books and the games, so I buried myself in both to try and bring aspects of both to the role. It sometimes feels incredibly surreal knowing that the work you do will be seen by so many people.
How do you get into character?
Each character is different, so I try to find the things about each that are similar and different from who I am as a person. I do a lot of prep and development before getting onto set. For Sabrina, in particular, having hair, makeup and costume really helps, as you walk out looking completely different to how you entered at 5am; you hold yourself in a different way with heels and hair that hits your waist. I also find a particular song which I think represents her each season and listen to it before going on set. I chose a perfume for Sabrina – Le Labo Lis 41 – which is different from my own. The act of copiously spritzing that on myself really settles me into the role.
What is the cast dynamic? Who was your fave person to work with?
It is very much a family, and coming to set and working with everyone is such a pleasure. You are with each other for very long days and a long shoot schedule, so you get to know each other pretty well. MyAnna Buring has been a pillar of strength throughout these three seasons. Watching her work was and is a masterclass and every season. I learn so much from the scenes we share together. The dynamic between the sorceresses (Anna, Anya and Mimi) is lovely and probably the most fun to film. It is a really encouraging atmosphere where everyone wants the others to succeed and do the best they can on and off set. We have recently had a lot of growth in the sorceresses we have. I can’t say too much, but I really do think the fans will love the amazing new faces that are joining us.
Did you say you read the books? Was that before or after you got the role?
When I received the audition, I was given sides with a different character’s name. I immediately bought all the books and went on a frantic search trying to find this mysterious character. I actually went into Sophie Holland’s office clasping one of those books very nervously. From then on, yes, I read them all, and do go back to reread bits (if not all) of them before each season. I also sometimes cheat and find myself on Witcher Wiki, or watching YouTube videos that do comprehensive summaries to remind myself of character arcs.
You’re also going to star in Back to Black – can you tell us anything about that?
Back to Black was a fantastic film I was fortunate to recently work on with Marisa Abela and Jack O’Connell, directed by Sam Taylor Johnson. To participate in a film about Amy Winehouse was incredibly moving for me. In the trajectory of Amy’s career, I could perceive the variety of ways in which she was hounded by the media from all the news articles I had seen growing up. It is wonderful to play a part in spreading awareness of the issues she was battling with in the hope it will help others, as well as being respectful and kind to her memory.
What has been your favourite project to date?
You love making me pick a favourite, but I wouldn’t be able to choose! Each project I have done – whether that be The Witcher, Stop Motion, Back to Black or Coyote – has taught me so much and has always been with an incredible cast and crew. I have been very lucky in that aspect. I may have to pick The Witcher though, as it has such a special place in my heart.
Do you get to spend much time at home?
Oh yes, I am such a homebody and love it there. I have an apartment that feels so peaceful. It’s slightly miscellaneous and full of (probably dying) plants. It feels like this zen little island in the middle of busy London. The only thing that isn’t so peaceful is that I have a rather large fluffy rescue cat who manages to moult no matter how much I brush him, so I spend a lot of my day picking up hairballs off the floor.
Do you live in the town or the country? Which do you prefer?
I live in London and probably wouldn’t change that any time soon. I love being in nature and taking time away from the city, but I love how busy London is – how there are copious different places opening up, different things to see, new people to meet and reconnecting with old friends. I am a big foodie as well, so one of my favourite things is finding new restaurants.
How do you find balance in your personal and work lives?
Life sometimes feels like that saying, ‘When it rains, it pours’. I will have periods of quiet and then suddenly everything is happening at once. I try to meditate most days, even if it’s for 10 minutes, and limit how much I spend looking at a screen.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Both of my parents are such inspirations to me, and I watched both of them work incredibly hard. There was part of me that wanted to follow in the footsteps of my mum and be in the medical field, and another part of me wanted to be a lawyer. In fact, there were lots of jobs I wanted when I was younger, but acting was really the one thing that stayed constant.
If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?
I would give so much advice to that 15-year-old girl! However, if it was just one thing, it would be to be kinder to yourself. That, and probably don’t quit playing the cello.
What I’m reading… The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk
The last thing I watched was… Succession
What I’m most looking forward to seeing… Killers of the Flower Moon directed by Martin Scorsese
Favourite film of all time… Too many to name, but The Intouchables with Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet. I used to watch Titanic and Moulin Rouge on repeat growing up.
Band/singers I always have on repeat… Whitney Houston, Taylor Swift and Hanz Zimmer
My ultimate cultural recommendation… The V&A
Cultural guilty pleasure… The Office US – it never fails to make me laugh.
Season three, volume one of The Witcher is streaming from 29 June. Catch up with the first two seasons on Netflix.