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Why The Cast Of The Witcher: Nightmare Of The Wolf Sounds So Familiar

Fans of "The Witcher," the epic Netflix fantasy series, are more than ready to return to the world of swords and sorcery when the show launches its second season on December 17, 2021. The adventures of Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter and champion brooder nicknamed "The White Wolf," took the streaming site by storm when the first season released in 2019. Veteran TV writer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich served as the show's executive producer, and "Man of Steel" actor Henry Cavill took on the starring role to much fan acclaim.

"The Witcher" franchise is a staple in the gaming world thanks to CD Projekt Red's video game trilogy, which was inspired by the novels and short stories of Polish author, Andrzej Sapkowski. The intricate storylines and innovative gameplay of "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt" blew away both RPG fans and critics, and set a huge precedent for all gaming developers' future projects.

Fans of both "The Witcher" books and games had heaps of praise for the Netflix series, which brought to life not only the heroic White Wolf, but also several supporting characters, including the powerful sorceress Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), Geralt's adopted daughter Ciri (Freya Allen), and the loveable minstrel Jaskier (Joey Batey). Yet many fan-favorite characters are still to come in the second season of "The Witcher," including Geralt's mentor and father figure, Vesemir. 

To set up "The Witcher" Season 2, Netflix is releasing an anime film that tells the backstory of Vesemir on August 23. "The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf" features a stellar voice cast, and you may have seen, or heard, some of these talented voices before.

Theo James as Vesemir

English actor Theo James provides the voice of young Vesemir in "The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf," and chances are that fans have seen him in at least one of his previous roles. "Downton Abbey" viewers may remember him as the dashing and seductive Kemal Pamuk, who appeared in Season 1, Episode 3 of the popular British period drama. After propositioning Mary Crawley (Michelle Docker) for a single night of passion, Pamuk mysteriously died in Mary's bed, resulting in a dark secret that would haunt the eldest Crawley sister throughout the series.

James then joined the cast of the dystopian sci-fi "Divergent" film franchise in 2014, playing the character Tobias "Four" Eaton, alongside co-star Shailene Woodley as Tris Prior. The "Divergent" series consisted of three movies, with a fourth planned to conclude the series. However, producers decided to call it quits when the 2016 release of "Allegiant" produced dismal numbers at the box office. Studios then tried to have "Divergent" adapted for television, but were unsuccessful due to disinterest from both cast and executives.

"The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf" is actually the second Netflix anime that James has worked on — the first being the "Castlevania" anime series. James provided the voice of Hector, one of Dracula's loyal human servants who used his special ability to bring dead soldiers back to life for the vampire lord's army. When he is taken captive and deceived by the evil Carmilla and her sisters, Hector undergoes a transformation after examining his own inner demons. Though Vesemir is a very different sort of character than Hector, fans watching the new anime may now understand why the character's voice sounds so familiar.

Graham McTavish as Deglan

If the voice of Deglan in "The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf" is instantly recognizable to you, then it's likely you're a big fan of the fantasy genre. That's Graham McTavish, who also provided the voice of Vlad Dracula himself in Netflix's "Castlevania" series. McTavish's signature raspy vocals make him a perfect fit for voiceover work, and it's no surprise that Netflix producers would wish to utilize his talents once again in their newest anime.

But "Castlevania" isn't the only credit on this Scottish actor's resume that audiences may recognize. Fans of Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" film trilogy may know McTavish as the bearded, dual-axe-wielding Dwalin, a member of the party of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and accompanied by Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman). Being a fierce warrior, Dwalin is a prominent member of the group, and was the first to arrive at Bilbo's home unannounced in an iconic scene from the first film, "An Unexpected Journey."

McTavish also plays a pivotal role as Dougal Mackenzie in the sweeping time-travel romance series "Outlander." The STARZ show, based on the novels by Diana Galbadon, takes place between 20th and 18th century Scotland, as protagonist Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) is flung back in time to a country on the brink of war. There, she meets the young and handsome Scotsman, Jamie Fraser, and the two are married at Dougal's insistence. In "Outlander" Season 5, McTavish also made a brief appearance as Dougal's son, Buck Mackenzie.

After the huge success of "Outlander," STARZ signed on McTavish and Sam Heughan, who plays Jamie Fraser on the show, for the docuseries "Men in Kilts: A Roadtrip with Sam and Graham," in which the two Scottish actors travel the picturesque setting of the famous location of the historic romance series, which also happens to be their home country.

Lara Pulver as Tetra

There are many powerful women in "The Witcher" series, and "Nightmare of the Wolf" introduces a new character to the roster of badass females. Lara Pulver plays Tetra Gilcrest, a skilled mage who fights to maintain the balance of power and magic on the Continent (via @witchernetflix on Twitter).

Pulver has taken on many roles over the years, beginning with a career in British television. She made her acting debut on the BBC series "Robin Hood," playing Isabella, the sister of Guy of Gisbourne (Richard Armitage). Pulver appeared in the third and final season of the action-adventure series, with her character often making the switch between ally and villain — and also briefly as Robin Hood's (Jonas Armstrong) love interest.

In 2012, Pulver appeared in "Sherlock," the hit BBC series created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. The episode "A Scandal in Belgravia" had Pulver playing opposite series star Benedict Cumberbatch as the elusive and intriguing Irene Adler, who is both Sherlock's nemesis and the object of infatuation for the famous detective. She also made a brief cameo in a later episode, "The Sign of Three."

Pulver got her first acting gig in American television on HBO's "True Blood." She played Sookie Stackhouse's (Anna Paquin) fairy godmother, Claudine, who revealed Sookie's true bloodline as part fairy, and tried to warn her away from her vampire beau, Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer). As a recurring character, Claudine continued to protect Sookie from various dangers, until she died at the hands (or, rather, the fangs) of the powerful vampire Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgaard).

Mary McDonnell as Lady Zerbst

Another key character in "The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf" is Lady Zerbst, a noblewoman who serves on the council of the King of Kaedwen and is a loyal supporter of the witchers (via @witchernetflix on Twitter). She is voiced by Mary McDonnell, a veteran actor whose career has spanned over 30 years.

A few of McDonnell's most well-known credits came from the '90s and early 2000s. In 1990's "Dances with Wolves," directed by and starring Kevin Costner, McDonnell played Stands With A Fist, a woman who was taken in by the native Lakota tribe. She plays a prominent role in the film and develops a romantic relationship with Costner's character, John Dunbarr. Her acting talent in "Dances with Wolves" earned McDonnell an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the 1991 Academy Awards. McDonnell went on to play a supporting role in the 1994 blockbuster hit "Independence Day," playing Marilyn Whitmore — the First Lady and wife of Bill Pullman's President Thomas J. Whitmore.

McDonnell's career became geared more towards television as the 20th century came to a close. She played the estranged mother of Dr. John Carter (Noah Wyle) in the medical drama, "ER" — a recurring role for several episodes. She then played a doctor herself on "Grey's Anatomy" — Dr. Victoria Dixon — and appeared in three episodes during the show's fifth season. McDonnell's other television credits include "Battlestar Galactica," "The Closer," "Fargo," and, most recently, "Rebel."