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The Surprising Casting Requirement For Netflix's The Witcher

Netflix's initial foray into vividly imagined medieval dramas came back in 2019 in the form of "The Witcher." "Man of Steel" actor Henry Cavill took yet another popular role as Geralt of Rivia, leading the cast of the series that included other, relatively lesser-known faces, like Freya Allan and Anya Chalotra. The first season introduced the audience to Geralt, Princess Ciri (Allan), and Yennefer of Vengerberg (Chalotra). Narrated in a non-linear form, the season looked at the formative years in all the three characters' lives that led them to a single storyline that connected Geralt and Ciri through destiny.

With substantial source material to fall back on, from Andrzej Sapkowski's "The Witcher" books to the globally known video game of the same name, the series had quite the references for the look and feel of the show. Even then, the 1st season of "The Witcher" only got mixed critical reviews with a 68% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Given its popularity (90% on Rotten Tomatoes) with fans, one thing that audiences never doubted about "The Witcher" was its casting. It has become a well-known fact how Cavill, a big fan of the "The Witcher" video games, campaigned for himself to land the role of Geralt. Even Sapkowski lent Cavill his seal of approval as the face of Geralt of Rivia after watching Season 1 (via People). But it will interest you to know the casting for "The Witcher" had an intriguing condition that actors had to meet.

Game of Thrones actors were forbidden from auditioning for The Witcher

Suffice it to say, had Henry Cavill been an actor on HBO's "Game of Thrones," the chances of him being cast as Geralt would've become slim to none. Yes, "The Witcher" casting call sheet specifically had a note that read, "No 'Game of Thrones' actors," Ian Beattie, who played Meryn Trant on the latter series, revealed at the 2019 MCM Comic-Con in Birmingham (via Digital Spy). While we have no explanation why Netflix would have such a requirement, there are some possible theories. When the streamer released "The Witcher" in 2019, it was almost as if it was filling the "GoT"-shaped hole on TV since the latter ended in 2018.

The striking similarities between the two shows — both are medieval fantasy dramas sourced from famous books — understandably made Netflix creatives skeptical. To have a face that has already been seen in "Game of Thrones" would have simply added to the resemblance that "The Witcher" would've been trying to shed.

To this unique rule, however, there were some exemptions. Two actors from "Game of Thrones" were eventually hired to be a part of the cast. Kristofer Hivju, known for playing Tormund on "Game of Thrones," joined the cast in Season 2 (per Entertainment Weekly).

Behind the scenes, Vladimir Furdik, who played the Night King and helped train actors like Kit Harington in swordplay, choreographed fight scenes and trained Cavill in swordplay in Season 1. With "The Witcher" Season 3 on the cards, it remains to be seen if other familiar faces from the HBO epic make way to The Continent.