An epic battle that will determine the survival of the human race
A gorgeously rendered, explosively physical and thoroughly original fantasy adventure, The Last Witch Hunter propels audiences into a complex mythological universe packed with shocking violence, unthinkable treachery and unforgettable characters. Set in a world never before seen by on screen, the story spans over 800 years of one man’s quest to keep at bay an army of vicious supernatural creatures determined to wipe out humanity.
Global action hero Vin Diesel produces and stars as Kaulder, the centuries-old guardian of the human world who has lost his family, friends and perhaps even his hope in the battle against the dark forces.
In The Last Witch Hunter the modern world holds many secrets, but the most astounding secret of all is that witches still live amongst us, vicious supernatural creatures intent on unleashing the Black Death upon the world.
Armies of witch hunters battled the unnatural enemy across the globe for centuries, including Kaulder, a valiant warrior who managed to slay the all-powerful Witch Queen decimating her followers in the process.
Today Kaulder is the only one of his kind remaining, and he has spent centuries hunting down rogue witches, all the while yearning for his long-lost loved ones.
However, unbeknownst to Kaulder, the Witch Queen is resurrected and seeks revenge on her killer, causing an epic battle that will determine the survival of the human race.
The inspiration for Kaulder and his story came from Diesel’s days as an avid gamer—particularly his more than 20-year fascination with the popular fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons.
His dedication to the game is so complete that he was asked to write the forward for the book, 30 Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons & Dragons.
Diesel’s favorite character to play in the game was Melkor, a dark elf and witch hunter that was not part of the original game. “I found it in a third-party book called Acheron,” he explains.
“The idea of doing an action-fantasy film was always appealing to me. I met with screenwriter Cory Goodman (Priest) five years ago and we geeked out about Dungeons & Dragons and next thing you know I get this amazing script about a witch hunter.”
Goodman – who co-wrote the screenplay with Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless – brought the project to Summit Entertainment and producers Mark Canton and Bernie Goldmann, who recognized its potential as a spectacular action franchise and a vehicle for Diesel.
“Vin Diesel brought such passion and dedication to the project,” Canton says. “His level of commitment is unparalleled. There is not one detail he hasn’t thought through. He is all about the movie, seven days a week. He’s a great producing partner, not to mention a superstar who is at his peak as an actor.”
Together the producers chose director Breck Eisner to take the helm. “I’ve known Breck for a long time,” says Canton. “He is relentless. His work ethic is incredible, and his talent is prodigious. His imagination and attention to detail brought the story alive.”
As the project developed, the filmmakers collaborated to build an immersive and surprising world for Kaulder.
“The first thing that excited me about the movie was being able to create this with Breck,” Goldmann says.
“We spent a long time figuring out and understanding the mythology. It is not based on a book or a graphic novel, so we had that much more work to do. It is challenging to imagine a world from the ground up.”
Eisner was more than enthusiastic about the project.
“I loved the character of Kaulder right off the bat,” he says. “As a kid I was a big fan of Highlander and this reminded me a bit of that. However, it has this awesome element of an immortal witch hunter avenging the loss of his wife and daughter. Vin’s character is haunted and somewhat tortured. Seeing him as a modern-day badass, as well as a medieval warrior, was very appealing to me.”
Historically, witches were often scapegoats for supposed heresy. Anything outside the bounds of religion could be deemed “witchcraft.” The film’s rich mythology portrays witches in an entirely new way. The witch (or Hexan) race preceded mankind on Earth, drawing otherworldly energies from the four elements: Air, Water, Fire and Earth. When humans came along and began to master nature rather than honor her, an inevitable conflict grew, sparking a long and vicious war.
“The witches see themselves as protectors of nature and humankind as her destroyer,” Eisner explains. “The film is set in New York for that reason. Manhattan used to be a bio-diverse island and has become a bastion of humanity, virtually devoid of nature.”
During the Middle Ages, the Witch Lords, six all-powerful siblings, emerged, unleashing their ultimate weapon on the world: the Black Death, a plague that killed as much as 60 percent of Europe’s population. A secret brotherhood calling themselves “The Order of Axe and The Cross” dedicated themselves to hunting down and destroying the Witch Queen in order to save mankind.
It was Kaulder who finally slew the Queen, but the price was steep. With her dying breath, the Queen cursed him with immortality.
Kaulder has lived for eight centuries as humanity’s last protector, policing the remaining witches who hide in plain sight, constrained by the draconian rules of the Axe and Cross and their own Witch Council. As the story opens, he suspects a scheme to resurrect the Queen and destroy the world is afoot.
In The Last Witch Hunter, Eisner depicts witches in a totally new way.
“In most movies, they either have a pointy nose, a wart and a broomstick or they are depicted as monsters. Here, they are more like humans with spectacular abilities to play with your mind. The witches can make you think that you have returned to the past and your loved ones are still alive. They can project images that will convince you that you are insane. They can change their appearance. All of these different planes of reality converge in our hero’s mind.”
While some of the witches are evil, others practice a more benign magic, Diesel explains.
“This movie suggests that there are people who possess magic among us now. It introduces the idea that they are an ancient race that existed before us, who have seen humanity grow and destroy the natural world as they knew it.”
To keep track of the complex action and backstory, multiple levels of reality and a time span of over 800 years, Eisner worked with a group of talented artists to create extensive storyboards that documented the entire movie virtually frame by frame. “I’ve worked with many masters of film and many great emerging filmmakers, but I have never seen storyboards which were so comprehensive and cohesive,” says Canton.
“With a film like this you need a director who pays attention to every detail,” adds Diesel. “We go in and out of multiple realms and Breck had to lay down the rules of magic. With an original mythology like this, it’s up to the director to translate it for the audience, for the actors and for the crew, and that is something Breck has done brilliantly.”
The Last Witch Hunter has something for everyone, according to Canton.
“On one hand we have the epic, almost apocalyptic feeling of movies like The Lord of the Rings series. On the other hand, we have a modern James Bond-like character in New York City. Kaulder is the coolest guy in the world. In over 800 years, he’s learned everything there is to know about the arts, music, culture, architecture, but more importantly, about people and the difference between good and evil. He’s a super cool, modern guy who has stood the test of time. I think Kaulder is a name we are going to start to reference like Bond, Bourne, or other classic action heroes.”