'Game of Thrones' Actor Unrecognizable in 'The Witcher' First Look at His Character

This weekend, Netflix gave fans their first look at Game of Thrones alum Kristofer Hivju in The Witcher Season 2, but you could easily have missed it with all the prosthetics he was wearing. Hivju - who played the wildling Tormund Giantsbane on GoT - is playing the man-turned-monster Nivellen in the upcoming season of The Witcher. A sneak peek at Netflix's TUDUM virtual event is going over well with fans.

Netflix released three videos to promote The Witcher Season 2 this weekend - a short scene of Geralt (Henry Cavill) and Nivellen talking together, another scene of Geralt and Ciri (Freya Allan) preparing for danger, and a full-blown trailer. The first scene caught many fans off guard, especially those who had not heard that Hivju was joining the cast of the Netflix original series. Even those that knew may not have realized what he would look like. He sported a coarse, furry face with tusks and fangs and a humped back under his tunic.

Those that have read The Witcher Saga books by Andzej Sapkowski may remember Nivellen from the short story "A Grain of Truth" in the book The Last Wish - the first book if you read the series chronologically. In it, Geralt comes across what he thinks is the trail of a monster, but eventually realizes is that of Nivellen, who is living alone in a rundown but lavish manor out in the wilderness. He soon realizes that Nivellen is not a typical monster, but a man transformed.

Like many other parts of The Witcher Saga, Nivellen's story is a brutal twist on a familiar fable - in this case, Beauty and the Beast. Nivellen was cursed with his monstrous form after sexually assaulting a priestess with magical powers. His seclusion has led him to reevaluate the violent lifestyle of his youth, but his attempts to cure his curse with true love have not worked - perhaps because they were not genuine. Meanwhile, Geralt determines that Nivellen is not truly a "monster" because he is not hurt by the Witcher's medallion.

The story is an iconic part of The Witcher Saga, though some fans are sad to see a beloved actor like Hivju relegated to a short-lived role. Some are also wondering how this will fit into the series chronologically, since Geralt's encounter with Nivellen takes place long before he meets Ciri in the books.

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Whatever the case, Hivju will tell his own version of Nivellen's story soon. The Witcher Season 2 premieres on Friday, Dec. 17 on Netflix.