On October 30th, 2022, Henry Cavill announced in an Instagram post that he would no longer be playing Geralt of Rivia on Netflix’s The Witcher.
The upcoming fourth and potential fifth seasons will have Liam Hemsworth play the Witcher instead of Cavill. Cavill, being a big fan of the books and games, was able to accurately portray Geralt for three seasons.
The show’s tendency to constantly deviate from the books and ignore Geralt led to a lot of bad reviews – but Henry Cavill’s departure after the third season proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Cavill’s Importance to the Show
Henry Cavill himself was a huge part of getting the show greenlit. He made sure to provide insight on the characters, because he had read Andrzej Sapkowski’s book series and played CD Projekt Red’s Witcher games. There are even videos of him reading excerpts from the book to promote the Netflix show early on.
Cavill was very passionate about the project and put his best efforts into auditioning for and playing Geralt. He even gave the character a distinct accent and vocal pitch. He used mannerisms and expressions that are rare in his other roles.
His dedication to the physical aspect of portraying Geralt was prevalent in the behind-the-scenes content. Witchers are augmented humans, so their fights look more like dances according to the games. In a Men’s Health video, Henry Cavill explained that he prepared for the role by constantly carrying a sword around. He even practiced with it at home. This helped him get used to its weight distribution so he moved with ease during fight scenes.
Liam Hemsworth’s Lack of Prior Reputation
On one side of the spectrum, supporters of the casting proposal praise Hemsworth’s proven acting abilities and physicality, which they believe could lend a fresh and charismatic touch to the grizzled monster hunter. They argue that Hemsworth’s experience in action-oriented roles, like in The Hunger Games, and his natural charm make him a suitable candidate to fill Cavill’s shoes.
On the other hand, a considerable portion of the fandom remains unconvinced. They express concerns about whether Hemsworth possesses the depth and gravitas necessary to portray Geralt’s complex character. Geralt is known for his stoic nature, introspection, and internal struggles. The third season started off on a high note as it retained the proper tone, but reviews have already stated that the second half is nowhere near as good.
A lot of people fear that Hemsworth’s reputation as a heartthrob could overshadow these aspects. He may lack the experience in these types of roles, leading to an inferior performance.
These skeptics are wary of a shift from the established tone of the series, fearing a potential deviation from the darker, grittier atmosphere that viewers have come to adore. From a certain perspective, this skepticism is warranted – Liam is nowhere near as famous as Chris Hemsworth, so the general public has way less exposure to his material. At the same time, Chris Hemsworth went from playing a more lighthearted Thor to the gritty action hero Tyler Rake in Netflix’s Extraction.
Why Season 1 of The Witcher Succeeded
The first season of The Witcher was far closer to the books than the others. However, producers took huge liberties with character portrayals and the aesthetics of the Witcher universe. Most of the advertising focused on Henry Cavill’s own excitement at being able to play Geralt, and he heavily promoted the show himself.
The first episode hooked viewers by establishing a familiar atmosphere. Sapkowski’s universe has a distinct tone that blends dark fantasy with medieval history and folklore. The first episode captured this tone effectively with multiple excessively gory fights within the first few minutes.
The first season as a whole embraced the gritty and violent aspects of the world, while infusing moments of humor and humanity through Geralt’s interactions with a local bard.
For the time being, fans and skeptics await the upcoming seasons, and the pressure is on to deliver a performance that can live up to Henry Cavill’s iconic portrayal. n the end, only time will tell how Liam Hemsworth’s portrayal of Geralt of Rivia will be received by audiences.