Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

How Henry Cavill Landed The Role Of Geralt In The Witcher - Exclusive

When English actor Henry Cavill was announced as the man who would lead Netflix's The Witcher, starring on the Lauren Schmidt Hissrich-created series as the rugged monster-hunter Geralt of Rivia, the internet had a collective breakdown. Fans of The Witcher — both the collection of novels and story stories written by Andrzej Sapkowski and the CD Projekt Red-backed video game series based upon those creative works — were equal parts stoked and skeptical about Cavill portraying such a beloved character. How well would he embody the silver-haired beast-slayer? Was he the right fit to play the part? Would he prove himself a worthy witcher?

By the time the first trailer for The Witcher rolled around, debuting as a Halloween treat on October 31, the world received the answers to those questions. The footage featured Cavill giving it his all as Geralt — swinging his sword in the face of baddies, meeting with the women who will change his life forever (Anya Chalotra's Yennefer of Vengerberg and Freya Allan's Princess Ciri), and standing strong opposite a monster hiding off screen. It was evident in the first look at The Witcher that Cavill was absolutely the right choice for Geralt. 

Some people may have needed a bit more time to be convinced of that, but one person who knew from the get-go that Cavill was the one was Lauren Schmidt Hissrich herself. Looper recently spoke with Hissrich, who opened up about how Cavill landed the role of Geralt in The Witcher.

According to Hissrich, one reason why Cavill was a clear choice to portray Geralt of Rivia, who undergoes physical training and intense mutations to become a witcher at Kaer Morhen, was because he was already well-versed in Witcher lore — book series and video game franchise alike. 

"Henry is a huge fan of the game. We met very early in the process and he had played all of the video games. He's quite the gamer himself. And when he heard that Netflix was making a show based on the books, he went out and read all of the books," said Hissrich, who admitted that at the time she first met Cavill, he was "more knowledgable about the world" of The Witcher than she was. Though the Netflix series hadn't started the casting process when Hissrich and Cavill met one another, Hissrich "loved his passion and enthusiasm" for The Witcher

When Hissrich hired directors (Alik Sakharov, Alex Garcia Lopez, Charlotte Brändström, and Marc Jobst) and writers (Jenny Klein, Beau DeMayo, Declan de Barra, Haily Hall, Sneha Koorse, and Mike Ostrowski) and began penning scripts for the series, that's when casting officially began. Hissrich explained that her approach to casting is always "to see everyone, to see different levels of actors from all over the world – people who are very well-known [and] people who've never been on television before." She and the Witcher team wanted to ensure that they were "exploring every avenue to find the best Geralt," and in the end, Hissrich met with "207 potential Geralts."

So, how did Hissrich land on Cavill after seeing hundreds of actors gunning for the role of Geralt? As she tells it, she simply couldn't get Cavill's voice out of her mind while other actors auditioned to lead The Witcher. Thus, Hissrich knew Cavill was the perfect man for the job.

"At the end of the day, though, I realized that I was actually kind of had Henry Cavill's voice in my head, and I called him and explained basically this whole thing and he was like, 'Great, if you want me, I want you to know that I'm the right person. I want you to have seen everyone and met everyone,'" Hissrich shared. "And we met up again and we and talked for several hours. And by the time we left that day, I knew that I had found our Geralt."

The Witcher will satisfy longtime fans and newbies alike

As mentioned, Cavill had something of an advantage going into The Witcher through his extensive knowledge of the source material. As most already know, Netflix's The Witcher is based on Andrzej Sapkowski's books rather than on the video game series' story, so Cavill knew he had to brush up on the narrative behind the narrative of the games he played through. Now, if the thought of having to read a ton of text before the December 20 premiere of The Witcher in order to enjoy and understand the series has suddenly sent a shiver down your spine, take a deep breath — Hissrich has assured that the show will satisfy existing Witcher fans without pushing away people who are unfamiliar with the property. No matter if you've played the Witcher games or have never picked one up before, read everything Sapkowski has written or haven't gotten around to doing so, it seems you'll be pleased with Netflix's The Witcher

"The show has to appeal to and surprise existing fans. That's our core enthusiastic bait," Hissrich began. "Part of what I've loved in working on the show is getting on, at first, Twitter and then Instagram and even finally I got on Reddit recently [and] really sort of delving into the fandom and seeing what they like. What I tried to do is take the stories that they loved and they were familiar with, but to tell them in a different way, which is part of the structural changes that you'll actually see in the show. We're sort of [saying is], 'Let's basically present this story in slightly different dressing.'"

She continued, noting that the series' creative team kept in mind not to "alienate people who've never heard of The Witcher before," and made careful decisions to ensure that those new to the property can enjoy the upcoming series just as much as longtime fans. 

"You want to make sure that there's things for them to fall in love with, too," shared Hissrich. "For instance, in the first episode, we only meet Geralt and Ciri. I found that in trying to explain what a witcher was and to learn all of these new names and all of these new places and things that sound unfamiliar and trying to wrap your head around the politics of the world, what I want to do is hold off introducing Yennefer because I wanted to make sure I was giving it in bite sized-pieces. And then what that allowed us to do, in episode two, [was] to let both Ciri and Geralt take a slight backseat and really delve into Yennefer and to make sure we understand where she's coming from."

In Hissrich's words, The Witcher is "really a mix of both — trying to make sure that the story is engaging for fans, but also really exciting for people who've never heard of the project."

No doubt that Henry Cavill's handsome mug will also pull viewers into the show, the first eight episodes of which hit Netflix on December 20.