In late 2019, The Witcher was declared the most-watched Netflix series of all time. While that title has since gone to Bridgerton and then Squid Game, with Season 2 of the fantasy series currently streaming, it might again regain that title.
And while Henry Cavil’s portrayal as Geralt of Rivia has been the face of the show, another name has gained prominence in public consciousness for her portrayal of Yennefer of Vengerberg is a British-Indian actress, Anya Chalotra.
Yennefer is described by Geralt as the most powerful mage he’s ever encountered. And Chalotra has done a splendid job of portraying this character that perpetually resides in the morally grey manor of hunting monsters, saving lives and getting makeovers mere mortals can only imagine.
Born to an Indian father and a British mother, the 25-year old actress learnt her trade at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and Guildhall School of Music And Drama.
Following this, she started a career in theatre, performing in acclaimed plays like The Merchant of Venice, Great Expectations and The Crucible all across the United Kingdom. She has since appeared on the British series Wanderlust in 2018, as Jennifer Ashman. In 2018 she also played Lily Marbury in BBC’s thriller series The ABC Murders.
In 2019, she played Robin Loxley in YouTube’s sci-fi series Sherwood.
She gained critical acclaim for Theatre Royal Stratford East production’s The Village, where she portrays the character of a teenager, Jyoti, rebelling against the tyranny of the police inspector Gangwar.
In an interview with The Guardian, Chalotra said that she loved watching and analysing people. She also revealed that she gets recognised mostly when she’s eating.
Oh, I’m always stuffing my face. They always come up to me when I’m stuffing my face. Because I don’t mind going to the pub on my own, or eating on my own – I just sit in the corner and watch people – but they always get me stuffing my face.
And unlike some of us, who were fortunate to be safe enough to sleep through the last couple of years, Chalotra actually developed a few hobbies, photography in particular.
However, that was tragically cut short when she kicked her own camera into a canal.
My recent camera… well, I kicked it in a canal, basically… A bike bell dinged. I’d been crouched down taking some pictures of flies on the surface of the water – beautiful – and I thought I’d put it in my bag. But then I kicked it and it just… dropped.
It appears to have left quite a mark on her as well.
It was like slow motion. I could hear the soundtrack in my head and then the music stopped. I called my brother – he has the same camera – and was like, ‘You’ll never guess what happened: the camera, the grand camera, has just gone in the bloody canal’. I didn’t go in there because… I just saw it sink to the bottom. There were bubbles. So now I’m just on my iPhone and a disposable, until I can earn myself a new one.
In the same interview, Chalotra talks about overnight fame and how she’s never wanted the blue tick. Oh, and she mentions having 35 first cousins.
Oh, I never wanted a blue tick in my life…I was on, like, MSN and Facebook so late. Like, so late. And I think it’s because I have such a huge family – I have about 35 first cousins – so I come from a big family, and I’ve always been quite content with that world.
Oh, and BTW, she is quite critical of her own work. She watched the first season of The Witcher and found most of her parts a bit cringe. She is of the opinion that she didn’t believe enough in her own work.
It doesn’t mean I wasn’t so proud of the work that I’d done… I put so much work into it, so I can really appreciate when I watched it, like, the emotional attachments in each scene and what I had to go through to deliver that.
Chalotra will also be seen voicing for New Gen– an animated series based on Marvel comics, alongside Stranger Things’ Nick Wolfhard. The Witcher season 2 is currently streaming on Netflix.