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Is Joey Batey Really Playing The Lute On The Witcher?

The Netflix series "The Witcher" was not the first introduction fans had to the show's universe and characters. The genesis was a series of novels and short stories by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, first turned into a video game series before being adapted by the streaming service.

One of the key characters in the series is Jaskier. Played by Joey Batey, Jaskier is a bard who travels around with Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), the titular Witcher, a monster hunter who's been enhanced by magic. One of the key aspects of Jaskier is the fact that he plays a stringed instrument called a lute, composing songs on it about Geralt's exploits.

One of the many questions fans have had since the series began is whether Batey is actually playing the lute during the show, or if it simply appears that way thanks to the efforts of people behind the scenes. The answer left us with a deeper appreciation for the cast of "The Witcher."

Joey Batey could play the lute before he was cast on the show

Yes, Joey Batey is really playing the lute as Jaskier on "The Witcher."

Playing the lute is a skill Batey had even before the show — he has played it on stage in other productions. In an interview with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2014, Batey spoke about coming from a musical family where he was encouraged to learn to play a variety of instruments, giving him the skills to be able to pick up new instruments as needed. He learned to play the lute for the role of Mark Smeaton in the two-part play "Wolf Hall" and "Bring Up the Bodies."

In an interview with 411Mania, Batey also spoke about his casting process for "The Witcher," indicating his belief that his ability to play the lute is what set him apart from everyone else auditioning for the role.

"I think the reason that I remember clearly, I only had one meeting for it. And I'm pretty sure they cast me because I could play the lute," Batey said, in response to the interviewer saying they couldn't imagine anyone else in the role. "I think anything else that I brought to the role was in the casting director's eyes an absolute bonus."

While Batey is surely being modest about his qualifications for the role, it is clear that his ability to play the lute was a key aspect in the decision to cast him as Jaskier. But he has also been clear that he doesn't share Jaskier's opinion of the instrument.

Batey does not enjoy playing the lute

Joey Batey spoke more about the instrument in a 2020 episode of the podcast "I'm Obsessed With This," in which he said that his ability to play the lute is actually terrible, likening it to a piano player who's only able to play the Beatles song "Hey Jude."

He also called the lute "unwieldy," adding that he was not enjoying getting back into the groove of playing it for Season 2 of "The Witcher." Though he has a lute at home, he said, "It sits in a corner gathering dust until I work up the courage to throw myself at it."

Asked about the prop lutes on the set of "The Witcher," he added that he doesn't touch them because they're fragile and expensive, and there are only two, leading to his worry that he'll break one at some point.

Batey's musical background did come into play in the show's second season, as Batey wrote the song "Burn Butcher Burn" for the character of Jaskier. In an interview with Newsweek, Batey expanded on how writing the song himself — the first one he had a hand in writing for the show — gave him more of an ownership and understanding of it as he played it. He added that it took a whole day to get the right take for the song, and he had to perform it in the cold, as it was an outdoor set in the middle of January. While that couldn't have been the most enjoyable filming experience, we appreciate his dedication to his craft — and are prepared to admire his lute-playing again if it should appear during Season 3.