It’s a somewhat heartbreaking decision given his affinity for the series itself, but ultimately one most fans will agree is for the best – after three seasons of watching Netflix slowly butcher the story of Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher, series star Henry Cavill has officially announced that he will not be returning for a fourth.
Cavill’s retirement from the role of Geralt of Rivia was first announced on October 29th by the actor himself, who took to his personal Instagram account to solemnly inform fans that “My journey as Geralt of Rivia has been filled with both monsters and adventures, and alas, I will be laying down my medallion and my swords for Season 4.”
However, rather than this being the end of Geralt’s journey, the actor then revealed that “In my stead, the fantastic Mr Liam Hemsworth will be taking up the mantle of the White Wolf.”
“As with the greatest of literary characters, I pass the torch with reverence for the time spent embodying Geralt and enthusiasm to see Liam’s take on this most fascinating and nuanced of men,” said Cavill, wishing well of the Hunger Games’ star future in the role. “Liam, good sir, this character has such a wonderful depth to him, enjoy diving in and seeing what you can find.”
In a separate statement shared to his own Instagram, Hemsworth weighed in on the news and exclaimed, “As a Witcher fan I’m over the moon about the opportunity to play Geralt of Rivia.”
“Henry Cavill has been an incredible Geralt, and I’m honoured that he’s handing me the reins and allowing me to take up the White Wolf’s blades for the next chapter of his adventure,” he said.
“Henry, I’ve been a fan of yours for years and was inspired by what you brought to this beloved character,” Hemsworth concluded, offering reverence and respect to his predecessor. “I may have some big boots to fill, but I’m truly excited to be stepping into The Witcher world.”
Though the loss of Cavill is a major blow for the series – particularly as the man not only near-perfectly embodied the character but was essentially a walking encyclopedia of series lore – it does not come as a surprise in any way considering the differences in vision for the series held between the actor and The Witcher‘s production team.
It’s no secret that the Superman actor has long been a dedicated fan of the series.
In 2019, Cavill recalled to GQ that his “first involved experience [with the franchise] was The Witcher 3″, at the time of the interview even noting that he was in the middle of his third complete playthrough of the CD Projekt Red developed title.
From there, upon learning that The Witcher Netflix series creator Lauren Schmidt Hissrich was interested in adaptaing the series to live-action, Cavill’s fandom of the game led him to quickly taking steps to throw his name into contention for the role of Geralt.
After she agreed to an initial meeting with him, in order to speak from a position of more established authority on the IP, Cavill then set out to read all of Sapkowski’s original novel series – which he then “absolutely loved”.
“I want to do it as true to the lore as possible,” he told the magazine. “For me it was about bringing my love for the character to the show, as a fan – I want to protect it.”
“It would’ve hurt my heart to hear there was a show that I didn’t jump on, [especially] if someone else had a unique and perhaps even brilliant interpretation of Geralt, but one not who I, as a fan, sees,” Cavill concluded.
Even when The Witcher‘s first season made some changes to Sapkowski’s story, Cavill’s love for the series kept him optimistic towards its future, as he hoped that he could eventally help guide it closer in line to the author’s original vision.
Asked by The Hollywood Reporter in November 2021 ahead of the series’ second season premiere if he planned on staying on for the “seven seasons” of The Witcher Hissrich had reportedly already planned out, Cavill declared, “Absolutely.”
However, this affirmation was not without a very stark caveat. “As long as we can keep telling great stories which honor [author Andrzej] Sapkowski’s work,” he added.
Cavill would further speak to his wish for Netflix to follow Sapkowski’s books during an interview with Hardwarezone.com given the month after.
Asked by the outlet in December 2021 “what has changed about you prepare for the role [in Season 2] compared to Season 1”, the actor asserted, “As far as the preparation goes, coming into this, I wanted the character to have a closer relationship to the character in the books, I wanted him to be more book accurate.”
“And so it was more to do with making sure and campaigning for him to sound more intellectual, more philosophical, and to have an emotional side as well, rather than just be a grumpy snowman,” he said. “Every day I was pushing this stuff as far as prep goes.”
The Witcher lead even expressed a similar hope for the series’ third season, asserting during a post-Season 2-premiere appearance on Netflix’s The Witcher: Unlocked post-show that, in terms of what he wanted to see in the series’ future, “To be true to the books, I think there’s a chance to explore the Nenneke relationship a little further.”
“Of course, I would love to work with the Witchers some more, but it all depends on how much the story allows,” he opined. “I’m a huge fan of the books and staying loyal to them, and it’s about making sure that story happens without too much in the way of diversions or side things going on to muddy the waters.”
Yet, for all of Cavill’s preparation, dedication, and love for the series, his dreams of a more “book accurate” adaptation would never come to pass, thanks largely in part to the indifference of its production crew.
As showrunner, the aforementioned Hissrich has continually shown a regular disdain for The Witcher‘s source material, forcefully injecting her own views on contemporary American social politics – and even attempting to sprinkle in some tone-deaf Marvel humor – into Sapkowski’s fantasy world.
And it’s not just Hissrich who contributed to the series’ willingness to play fast and loose with its original identity.
According to former The Witcher writer Beau DeMayo, this problem was evident even within the series’ writers room, as “some of the writers were not [fans of] or actively disliked the books and games.”
“[Some were] even actively mocking the source material,” he added.
Cavill’s final season of The Witcher is currently set to hit Netflix sometime in Summer 2023.