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Paul Bullion Details His Approach To Playing Lambert In The Witcher Season 2 - Exclusive

For actor Paul Bullion, landing the coveted role of Lambert in Season 2 of the Netflix streaming phenomenon "The Witcher" came with elation, but also a load of expectations. After all, the smash fantasy series has a deep well of source material to draw from, beginning with author Andrzej Sapkowski's best-selling "The Witcher" fantasy book series, as well as the video games based on the book saga.

Created by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, Season 1 of "The Witcher" introduced Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia, a mutated monster hunter tasked with finding and protecting the magical Princess Ciri (Freya Allan) of Cintra. Season 2 begins with the duo traveling to Geralt's ancestral home of Kaer Morhen, where monster slayer is reunited with Lambert, his boyhood friend and fellow Witcher. It's also in Kaer Morhen where Ciri asks Lambert to train her to prepare here to become a Witcher.

The interesting thing about Bullion's path to "The Witcher" was that he didn't even know he was auditioning for the series, much less the role of Lambert.

"I auditioned before Season 1 came out. All the trailers were out, and then I actually went for an audition not knowing 100% that it was actually for "The Witcher" because, a little inside knowledge, what they do is they code sides [which are scenes in a script]," Bullion told Looper in an exclusive interview. "So, obviously, they're worried about things leaking, which is inevitable when scripts are getting sent out to multiple actors. So, yeah, they code it, basically, and so, when you are auditioning, they give you the scenes, and they call the characters by different names and the title of the show is different."

Bullion deciphered his Witcher role to be Lambert

Despite the coded sides, Bullion said the nature of the narrative he was reading led him to make "an educated guess that it was 'The Witcher.'"

"I had a friend that was in Season 1 and had a brilliant time when they were filming over in Budapest ... Of course, I wanted to be part of it," Bullion recalled. "I've always wanted to try my hand at a fantasy world, and I think Lambert was the right fit."

As it turns out, Bullion's guess was right on the money, which then led him to doing some research on "The Witcher" books and video games — and eventually Lambert.

"I could tell that with my audition scene, since I was training somebody, and he was quite short tempered. So, I thought, 'Okay, it's got to be one of the Witchers.' I needed to do my research because I suppose I didn't know too much in detail about the world," Bullion remembered. "I was very aware of the video game, but I delved into it and I saw the main kind of characteristics of the main Witchers, and I said, 'I guess this is Lambert.'"

Bullion says he collaborated with The Witcher's series creator for his interpretation of Lambert

Knowing that playing a role like Lambert in "The Witcher" would come with massive fan expectations, Bullion dove even further into researching the books and video games once he nabbed the role. Ultimately, though, the actor said it was his collaborative efforts with "The Witcher" creator Lauren Schmidt Hissrich that helped Bullion find Lambert's voice.

"You have to respect the creator of the show. What I try to do is collaborate in that if I believe in something," Bullion revealed. "What's brilliant about Lauren — I think she's absolutely fantastic what she does if you look at her body of work. What's fantastic about her as a showrunner is she's open to collaboration. She wants you to have conversations with her because you might spot something or a potential way of doing something that they might put in, and she's very open to that. I think that's why Lauren's brilliant at being a showrunner and creating this type of art, if you like, and storytelling. That's what makes good storytellers, collaborators."

Bringing on the attitude

In addition to his collaboration with Schmidt Hissrich, one thing Bullion felt was important to carry over from his auditions was his interpretation of Lambert's distinct attitude.

"Playing a character that's obviously a fan favorite within the games, that comes with challenges. And I just have to make sure that ... I went into it trusting the creative team because the creative team had given me this role based on what I did in the auditions," Bullion said. "I can't then go in and do something different. So, I've always said that I was there to do an interpretation, not an impersonation. So, when I read the books, it's very clear, the temperament of Lambert. And I understand in the games, a very famous poem that has been reread to me or rewritten to me, like, thousands of times online, 'Lambert, Lambert, what a prick.' And he is. He's short tempered. He's fiery. But most people that are short tempered and fiery comes from a very real place."

However, being a prick doesn't mean Lambert's entirely a bad person, Bullion observed.

"They're not born bad — it can normally come from an experience or something they're feeling. So, I made sure in the show ... I made him quite insecure," Bullion said. "He has his moments where, basically, because he doesn't want to have a genuine connection with someone because he's a Witcher, he's been abandoned, he was orphaned, he's gone through these horrible trials. And he's got his brothers that he trusts because they're family through shared experience. He doesn't like these challenges, because he's got these new energies coming into care more, and he's got young Ciri, and he's like, 'What's this little energy around me? I'm not used to this.'"

All Lambert needs is a hug

Of course, the difference between encountering somebody like Lambert in real life and watching him on "The Witcher" is that the attitude Bullion imbues Lambert with can be quite funny. The laughter, Bullion thinks, helps people look at the character from a different perspective — and maybe understand him a bit better.

"Old friends of mine or some family members, they'll be like, 'So you are goodie or baddie?' And I say, 'Well, no one's really a baddie, and no one's really a goodie. They're just people going through having experiences.' And I say, 'Well, Lambert is short tempered with a good heart.' And I think like he often is [that way]," Bullion said.

As such, that internal struggle makes Lambert that much more exciting to play, Bullion added.

"The fun thing was to ground his short temper, and his prickliness in something where he's not happy about himself or his own experiences — and that's often where that bully kind of mentality comes from," Bullion said. "I often say the one thing that Lambert needs more than anything is a hug."

"The Witcher" Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.