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Why Triss Merigold From The Witcher Looks So Familiar

Now most famous as Netflix's surprise hit of the 2019 holiday season, The Witcher started life as a series of fantasy books and short stories written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The franchise's fortunes really took off in 2007, when game developers CD Projekt Red produced the first of three smash hit video games based on The Witcher. It was in the games that the character of Triss Merigold went from a magic-wielding secondary character lusting after the titular monster-slayer Geralt to a magic-wielding major character and Geralt's actual (though occasional) love interest. 

In November 2018, British actress Anna Shaffer was announced for the role on the Netflix adaptation. Given the character's contradicting history between the page and PC games, fans wondered whether the Witcher writers would lean into Triss' romance with Geralt (Henry Cavill) on the series, or return to the original text and sideline her in favor of other characters. On the first season of The Witcher at least, it looked as though they were leaning more towards the books, with Shaffer's Triss maintaining a platonic-slash-professional relationship with Geralt and ultimately working more closely with the sorceress Yennefer (Anya Chalotra). 

No matter what the Witcher team chose to do with Triss Merigold for the show, one thing is undeniable: the actress who plays her looks incredibly familiar. Here's where you may have seen Anna Shaffer before.

Anna Shaffer started out in the wizarding world

Anna Shaffer's first-ever screen role was in 2009's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, in which she played a witch who couldn't land her romantic interest. (Sound familiar?) In the David Yates-directed film, the fifth installment in the Harry Potter film franchise based on J.K. Rowling's beloved book series, Shaffer portrayed Gryffindor student Romilda Vane, the leader of a clique of girls who become obsessed with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) — or, rather, with his celebrity status — and trail him around Hogwarts trying to get his attention.

In case you've forgotten the small details from Harry Potter, Romilda Vane was a small but memorable character in the fifth film. Remember when Harry's best pal Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) accidentally ate a Chocolate Cauldron laced with love potion and became instantly infatuated with a girl? That girl was Romilda, who actually made the love potion specifically for Harry. Shaffer also appeared in the last two movies of the franchise — 2010's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and 2011's Part 2 continuation – but her character had a more serious purpose throughout those installments. Romilda joins Dumbledore's Army to fight against the evil forces taking over the wizarding world, but unlike many of other minor characters, she survives the Battle of Hogwarts that left dozens dead.

Anna Shaffer then moved to the world of Doctor Who

Shaffer has a connection to another beloved British-born franchise — one arguably even more popular than Harry Potter and one that's certainly been around for a lot longer. The actress appeared briefly on Class, a Doctor Who spin-off series written and created by Patrick Ness. The show centered around a group of teenagers studying at Coal Hill Academy, a fictional school that has popped up on numerous occasions throughout Doctor Who, and the staff who worked there. On the series, which lasted only one season, Shaffer played Rachel Chapman, the girlfriend of main character Ram (Fady Elsayed), who comes to a nasty end — only for him to move on to another love interest a couple of episodes later. So much for the power of love.

Anna Shaffer played a villain on a British soap

Outside of worlds populated by witches, aliens, and would-be girlfriends, Shaffer has mostly been left with minor roles. She had a blink-and-you'll-miss-it part on two episodes of the widely praised BBC drama Fearless in 2017, and before The Witcher, she appeared in the widely lambasted British action movie I Am Vengeance. Shaffer played Sandra, who assisted John Gold (Stu Bennett) in avenging his friend's death.

However, Shaffer managed to make a mark on a super-melodramatic TV series. She played yet another troublemaker with a deeply hidden heart of gold when she took on the role of rebellious bully Ruby Button on the British daily soap opera Hollyoaks from 2011 to 2014, returning for four guest appearances in 2017 and 2018. In typical soap fashion, Shaffer's Ruby went through a lot during her brief stint on Hollyoaks: a hit-and-run in which she was the passenger, a foiled elopement that ended in her fiancé's death, social exile on account of all the bullying she masterminded, a cocaine-induced heart attack, and a new life in Spain. It almost makes dealing with the respective armies of Voldemort, the Shadow Kin, and the Nilfgaard seem like a cakewalk.