Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher had a mixed reception, especially with how season 2 deviated from the source material. Now fans are getting some more bittersweet news: the show is already confirmed to be getting a fourth season, but Henry Cavill will not be returning as Geralt.
Cavill is already confirmed to be returning for the show’s third season, which is currently slated for release around the summer of 2023. However, season 4 will see Liam Hemsworth take over as the Butcher of Blaviken, as announced by Cavill on his Instagram.
"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 (whose Enola Holmes 2 on the list of what's new on Netflix this week) said on the post, adding: “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.”
Cavill is well known for being a fan of the Witcher games and books, and started campaigning for the role almost as soon as Netflix’s adaptation was announced. Despite this, casting directors are said to have auditioned 207 other actors before settling on the obvious choice that had been in their face the entire time.
Needless to say it’s disappointing to see him depart the role, even if it means Cavill is free to return to DC movies for Man of Steel 2.
Liam Hemsworth is best known for his roles in The Hunger Games movies, alongside roles in Independence Day: Resurgence, The Expendables 2, and others. He’s the youngest brother of Luke and Chris Hemsworth — best known for their respective roles on Westworld and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“As a Witcher fan I’m over the moon about the opportunity to play Geralt of Rivia," Hemsworth said (via IGN). "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.”
Will he fill Geralt’s boots as well as Cavill? We can’t say either way at this point, but at least Hemsworth appears to share some of the same reverence for the character as his predecessor.
Why is Cavill leaving The Witcher?
Henry Cavill has not announced why he is leaving The Witcher, only that the third season will be his last. That’s led to a bunch of speculation online, fueled in part thanks to recent news and developments surrounding both the show and Cavill himself.
The most obvious is that Cavill recently announced he will be returning to the role of Superman, and that Man of Steel 2 is in development. While we don’t know a huge amount about the upcoming movie, it seems likely that there may be schedule problems that couldn’t be solved. There may not be an issue with removing facial hair with CGI this time, but filming two different properties at the same time is going to be exhausting — even if it is physically possible.
Of course, there have been accusations levelled at The Witcher’s writers, with a former producer claiming they “actively disliked” the Witcher books and games. Beau DeMayo, showrunner of Marvel Studios’ X-Men ‘97 reboot, claimed this during an Instagram Stories Q&A (via The Direct).
DeMayo said that writers actively mocked The Witcher source material, and said it’s “a recipe disaster and bad morale.” This situation, he claimed, is a big reason why production staff for the upcoming Disney Plus series had to be fans.
It’s easy to imagine a fan like Cavill getting frustrated by this, especially when you consider reports that he had to actively fight to use some of Geralt’s lines from the books. Cavill even pushed back against writers during Roach’s death in season 2, featuring Geralt cracking a joke to break the tension. This ended with Geralt instead reciting a line from Sword of Destiny — the very first book in the Witcher series.
Cavill has also expressed his hopes that season 3 will be more faithful to the books, following the huge diversions at the end of season 2. Showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich also confirmed he’s been pushing for more dialogue so the on-screen Geralt can be more like his literary counterpart.
It’s easy to imagine a scenario where being continually not being faithful to the books would frustrate Cavill enough to quit — especially now that Superman’s cape is back within reach.
Nothing has been confirmed, or even alluded to by Cavill or The Witcher’s production team. So at this point it’s impossible to say. Chances are we’re not going to hear the full story until long after Netflix ends the show — whenever that may be.
For what it’s worth, one executive producer has already been comparing Geralt to James Bond and Batman, suggesting that the actor playing the role can and will change as time goes on. But I suppose that’s all down to Liam Hemsworth, and how long he personifies The White Wolf.