Henry Cavill is leaving Netflix’s The Witcher after Season 3 the streaming service announced today.
Widely regarded as the best thing about the fantasy drama, and a crucial part of its success, the departure will no doubt shock fans of the series.
Cavill is being replaced by Liam Hemsworth, brother to Thor actor Chris Hemsworth.
“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,” Cavill announced on Instagram. “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. Liam, good sir, this character has such a wonderful depth to him, enjoy diving in and seeing what you can find.”
“As a Witcher fan I’m over the moon about the opportunity to play Geralt of Rivia,” Hemsworth said, also via Instagram. “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. Henry, I’ve been a fan of yours for years and was inspired by what you brought to this beloved character. I may have some big boots to fill, but I’m truly excited to be stepping into The Witcher world.”
I admit, I had to check my calendar to make sure this wasn’t an April Fool’s day prank.
Alas, that does not seem to be the case.
This Is Not Good
I have nothing against Liam Hemsworth but recasting a character four seasons in is never a good thing. When it’s the very distinct, very well-established lead protagonist it’s a catastrophe in the making.
Frankly, The Witcher was already showing signs of weakness in Season 2, and it’s possible that Cavill doesn’t want to go down with the ship and is getting out before things get worse. Perhaps there are creative differences we don’t know about. Perhaps he will simply be too busy playing Superman in the newly-re-branded DCU.
Netflix is spinning this as “exciting news” but it’s actually the furthest thing from it. No matter how well Hemsworth does in the role, audiences will have a deeply difficult time accepting him as Geralt. It was already going to be a challenge to move from video game Geralt (or book Geralt) to a live-action actor, but Cavill did such a terrific job pretty much everyone was onboard after the first season.
Cavill also has shown a deep passion for this project and for the Witcher stories and games and has been a champion of fidelity to the source material. Without him involved, I am deeply concerned that the show will falter.
Frankly, Cavill leaving should either mean A) the end of the show or B) moving the story in a new direction with a new Witcher in the title role who isn’t Geralt. By all means, bring Hemsworth in to play a different Witcher with a different backstory and personality. This isn’t Doctor Who. You can’t just swap out Geralts every three seasons.
In any case, this is breaking news and I’m still wrapping my brain around it. But this has, in one fell swoop, pretty much crushed my hopes for the future of The Witcher on Netflix. Whatever Cavill’s true reasons for leaving, I can’t imagine this show going anywhere but downhill.
Interestingly, this also comes directly after a former producer on the show, Beau DeMayo, claimed that writers on The Witcher actively disliked the books and games.
“I’ve been on shows – namely Witcher – where some of the writers were not or actively disliked the books and games (even actively mocking the source material),” DeMayo explained. “It’s a recipe for disaster and bad morale. Fandom as a litmus test checks egos, and makes all the long nights worth it. You have to respect the work before you’re allowed to add to its legacy.”
Are these things connected? We’ll likely never know.
R.I.P. Netflix’s The Witcher. The final season with Cavill as Geralt of Rivia will air in Summer 2023. A spinoff show, The Witcher: Blood Origin, comes out on December 25th.
I guess this is one way to learn that the show has been renewed for another season.