“It’s pretty hellish, yeah,” says Batey, who plays Jaskier, the witty lute-playing bard who trails Henry Cavill’s Geralt in the epic fantasy series. “I think it’s a crackin’ song, but I’ve been listening to it for about a year now. I’ll get in the shower and just start going, ‘Toss a coin….’”
He feigns a grimace before admitting his latest go-to “shower song” is Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time.”
“The heavy metal ones? I love them. Fourteen-year-old Joey is having a field day right now,” he says.
Batey — who read the fantasy books by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski on which the show is based and also played the hit video games — calls the series one of his favorite jobs ever, in no small part thanks to his camaraderie with Cavill, with whom he has most of his scenes. That also means he has to be ready to improvise and ad-lib to motivate the story as necessary.
“Henry likes to cut his lines ‘cause he’s lazy,” Batey says jokingly. “He likes to do more up here [gestures to his face] with face and ‘hmmms’ and grunts. So, I often take a lot of his lines and turn them into a lot of my stuff for the plot.”
And Cavill’s portrayal of grunty monster hunter Geralt often compels a laugh or two out of Batey on set.
“I always find it really funny, so I start all of my scenes laughing at him because that’s how I get into my character, by going ‘You’re ridiculous. Geralt, come on,’” says Batey.
“The Witcher” was renewed for a second season ahead of its Season 1 premiere. Season 2’s cast will include “Game of Thrones” actor Kristofer Hivju and “Killing Eve’s” Kim Bodnia; the show’s sophomore run will be eight-episodes long and debut in 2021.
The show centers on three main characters, Geralt (Cavill), Ciri (Freya Allan) and Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) as they navigate The Continent, a sometimes gruesome world populated by fantastical creatures, based largely on Polish folklore.
While some viewers may struggle with the complex storylines — (SPOILER) told in multiple timelines, no less — Batey says to stick with it.
“What I really admire about [showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich’s] approach to it is to challenge people and challenge the basic narrative structures. And enjoy that this is actually going to be a bit of hard work in trying to figure some of this out,” he says.
And as for more earworms to come? After a slight pause, Batey says slyly, “I can neither confirm nor deny.”
Watch Joey Batey’s full interview in the Variety studio above.