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The Witcher Season 2 Just Lost A Very Important Actor

Geralt of Rivia's bad luck continues, it seems. 

A little over a month after production on the Netflix series resumed, The Witcher season 2 cast member Thue Rasmussen, who was set to play Geralt's (Henry Cavill) close friend and fellow witcher Eskel, has dropped out of the show due to a COVID-19-related scheduling conflict. 

The actor announced the news on Instagram, writing, "Sadly, due to the rescheduling because of Covid-19, I will not be portraying Eskel in The Witcher. It's heartbreaking, of course, but I mostly feel happy and grateful for the days I got to spend on set earlier this year. Everyone was extremely engaged and passionate about the project and it was a truly inspiring experience."

Rasmussen went on to give a "heartfelt thank you to all the fans who wrote [him] lovely, encouraging messages," and to wish the Witcher cast and crew "the best of luck" completing the series' second season. "I'm sure season 2 will be absolutely amazing and now I get to watch it as a fanboy instead of a Witcher," he concluded.

Losing Rasmussen is a huge blow for season 2, considering Eskel's importance in the Witcher book series by Andrzej Sapkowski, on which the Netflix show is based. In the books, Eskel and Geralt are described as being practically brothers, and he plays a large role in the training of Ciri (portrayed by actress Freya Allan). It seems likely that Netflix will recast the role, but the streamer hasn't shared what its plans are for Eskel in light of Rasmussen's departure.

Rasmussen's exit is yet another roadblock in The Witcher season 2's journey to our screens. Production on the season was halted in March, due to COVID-19, and at the time, a spokesperson for Netflix issued a statement to Deadline optimistically suggesting that production would resume in early April. Instead, another season 2 newcomer, Game of Thrones favorite Kristofer Hivju, revealed he had tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after production was halted, per CNN.

Thankfully, The Witcher cast and crew are safely back to work, but Rasmussen's exit creates a new hurdle for the series: Who will take on the pivotal role now, and what will a potential recast mean for season 2's release date?

Why is Eskel so important to season 2 of The Witcher?

Eskel isn't the only new witcher on the block on the upcoming season. The show also announced casting for Lambert (Paul Bullion), Coen (Yasen Atour), and elder witcher Vesemir (Kim Bodnia). In Blood of Elves, the first full-length Witcher novel, all four witchers join Geralt of Rivia in training Ciri at Kaer Morhen, the homebase for the witchers. The casting of Geralt's pals suggests that Blood of Elves will be the inspiration for season 2, and it's hard to imagine the storyline working without Eskel by Geralt's side.

As expected, Netflix has been cagey about releasing plot details for the new season. However, the casting announcements offer a clear idea of what's next for Geralt and his child of surprise, Ciri. Now that the two have finally found each other, the witcher will be helping her harness and control her powers with assistance from the men he himself trained with as a young man.

Of those men, Eskel has the strongest connection to the perpetually grumpy Geralt. On season 1, the White Wolf is seen as a friendless loner, aside from his faithful bard Jaskier (Joey Batey). Introducing Eskel to the story means delving into Geralt's past and the painful childhood that he shared with his fellow witchers. Having a character on the show who knows Geralt so intimately should go a long way in fleshing out his backstory and explaining how he became the cynical, bath-loving hero fans know and love.

Will Netflix recast Eskel for The Witcher season 2?

Netflix would be remiss to move forward without Eskel, but COVID-19 restrictions will no doubt complicate the process. Not only will a potential replacement have to quarantine for two weeks before joining the cast and crew's filming bubble, but the actor selected will likely also need to be a resident of the U.K., where the show is filmed.

The series has an international cast, with actors hailing from all around the world, but with travel restrictions still in place for some countries, having a local actor step into the role would surely expedite the process. No matter who is ultimately cast, Rasmussen's exit will almost certainly lead to another delay in completing season 2. 

With that in mind, fans should prepare themselves for the possibility that The Witcher season 2 won't actually land on Netflix until late 2021 at the earliest.