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Vervain is the secondary antagonist of the 1972 book Watership Down, its 1978 film, its TV series and miniseries. He is General Woundwort's spy.
He was voiced by Derek Griffiths in the 1978 film, David Holt in the 1999-2001 TV series, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje in the 2018 Netflix/BBC miniseries, who also played Kurse in Thor: The Dark World, Killer Croc in Suicide Squad, Lock-Nah in The Mummy Returns, Nykwana Wombosi in The Bourne Identity, Malko in Game of Thrones and Simon Adebisi in Oz.
Book and Movie
Vervain is the head of the Owslafa (Council police) in Efrafa. He is a large and bullying rabbit, more used to dealing with prisoners than with active combatants, and dislikes his peer Campion. As Efrafa's most-hated officer, Vervain depends upon General Woundwort's authority for his own. After the loss of Woundwort and the battle for Watership Down, Vervain is one of the retreating survivors killed by elil, but he had already lost heart and his sense of purpose. His name comes from an alternative name for verbena, a type of small flowering plant found in England.
In the TV series, Vervain is a cowardly and sneaky rabbit, more adept at spying on others and threatening the weaker ones than in actual combat. Despite his shortcomings, Woundwort values him (though he would not show this) for his loyalty to him. Although Campion saved his life on more than one occasion, Vervain hates him with a passion and would like nothing better than to make Woundwort realize Campion is a traitor. Kehaar is particularly not fond of Vervain and calls him 'ugly bunny'. After Efrafa's destruction, Vervain tries to live on his own but quickly loses hope, until he is saved by Woundwort. Although somewhat shocked by his master's increasing madness, Vervain continues to serve him, though more out of fear then respect, and he secretly longs to lead a different life, even if such thoughts are futile. Vervain's cowardice saves his life in the end, as by running away when the Black Rabbit of Inlé appears, he avoids the fate of Woundwort.
Vervain appears in the miniseries, although he is depicted as a large, stocky, brownish-grey rabbit with dark brown eyes and a few, barely visible scars on his face.
In this adaptation, he is the brother of Captain Orchis, who takes his role as the secondary antagonist, while Vervain himself is given the role of another rabbit named Charlock. He is also the complete opposite of the character he was in the TV series, being very brave, and very threatening. He's the one who leads Captain Holly, Blackberry, and Bluebell down into Efrafa after they are captured by guards and taken there. When Holly tells the Efrafans that they came to ask for some of their does, Vervain ridicules him, along with the other Efrafans. He later pursues the three as they escape Efrafa. A doe named Hyzenthlay tackles him in an attempt to delay him long enough, but he calls some more guards to pursue the escaping rabbits. He then tells Hyzenthlay to enjoy her last moments beneath the stars, before striking her in the face, which she barely survives. Guards come and retrieve Hyzenthlay off screen. The escapees run across a rail track just as a train is coming. Vervain catches up to them, and assaults them. Holly manages to knock him down, and jump out of the way in time, before the train comes through, killing Vervain. This devastates Orchis, and fuels his murderous hatred of both Holly and Hyzenthlay for their roles in Vervain's death.
- In the movie, Vervain has only one scene where he torments Blackavar and then talks with Bigwig. In the TV series, he is a recurring antagonist but never represents a great threat because of his cowardice, he also seems smaller and weaker than his other incarnations. In the miniseries, he is more like his incarnation of the book and the film but he seems more sadistic, cruel and also shows quite impressive fighting skills. After his death, his brother Orchis mentions him continually, which shows that the two brothers were on good terms.