April 6-7, 2024
In light of the recent news of Henry Cavill’s casting as Geralt of Rivia in Netflix’s The Witcher, we take a holistic look at what we know so far about this highly anticipated series.
The Witcher, for those who aren’t familiar, is a series of short stories and novels written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, following the life and exploits of the Witcher, Geralt of Rivia. Gaining a cult following, especially in Central and Eastern European countries, the series was developed into a number of games, the third and most successful instalment, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, selling almost 10 million copies within a year of its release.
There has been a bit of upset within the Witcher fandom since Cavill’s casting announcement – those who have thought that frontrunners including Mads Mikkelsen and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau were better suited for the role. But they forget just how many ways Cavill is, in fact, a great fit for the role.
Whilst Cavill’s time as Superman has demonstrated his ability to buff up to a superhuman degree, Geralt’s style of fighting lends itself to both agility and strength, not muscle mass and bulk. However, if we know anything about actors bulking up for roles, we know that it requires an immense amount of discipline and hard work, so there is no doubt that he will be more comfortable perfect physique for playing Geralt. That and suiting up in leather, chainmail and real facial hair can’t possibly be as uncomfortable as tight spandex.
Doing the character justice
An avid gamer, Cavill has shown great love for many open-world fantasy games, including not only Witcher 3, but also Skyrim and World Of Warcraft (even to the point of missing his Superman casting phone call due to being too engrossed playing WoW). He’s also mentioned that he’s a big fan of the original stories and novels by Sapkowski, so we can be sure that he’s going to put in all he’s got to do justice to Geralt. Showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich summed up the importance of Cavill’s existing love for the series via Twitter:
This is important, and from my heart. I met Henry in April. Over the next four months, I met/reviewed hundreds of other potential leads, many of whom were amazing. But what I never forgot was Henry’s deeply insightful understanding of Geralt’s strength and brutality, and — https://t.co/HkibJwd8dD
— Lauren S. Hissrich (@LHissrich) September 6, 2018
— more importantly, his wit and vulnerability. Because as a fan of the franchise, Henry saw beyond the script pages. He saw the human connection that Geralt perpetually needs, even if he denies it, kicking and screaming at every turn. What I saw was Geralt’s heart, in Henry.
— Lauren S. Hissrich (@LHissrich) September 6, 2018
The other perks
All things considered, we can’t be blind to the fact that Cavill has just played Superman in multiple films and he is fresh off a main role in the new Mission: Impossible – Fallout, a critically acclaimed instalment that some critics are calling the best action movie of all time. Cavill’s casting as Geralt has the potential to bring the Witcher series to a whole new audience outside fans of the original books and the game series.
Hissrich and Netflix have been quite tight-lipped about exact details surrounding the series, Hissrich even confirming that scripts that were written specifically for casting would not be included in the final show. However, there are a few key facts that we’ve learnt that will have a big overarching effect on the series.
It will be primarily based on the books
Not only has Hissrich explicitly addressed this, she has also included a photo of the pilot script, which states it is based on the novels by Sapkowski (who will also serve as a creative consultant for the show). However, that is not to say that influences won’t be drawn from the games – as just one example, in the books, Geralt has been described to have a face that makes people uncomfortable, but it looks like Netflix will be taking a leaf out of Witcher 3’s book through their casting of Cavill.
Moral ambiguity and blurred lines between what is ‘human’ and ‘monster’ will be key
This comes straight out of Netflix’s synopsis of the show, which reads: “The Witcher Geralt, a mutated monster hunter, struggles to find his place in a world where people often prove more wicked than beasts.”
The show will include most of the characters from the books
Aside from Geralt, Hissrich has personally confirmed the inclusion of Yennefer, Ciri, Roach, Jaskier (Dandelion), Triss, Cahir, Regis, Vilgefortz, Emhyr and more, with an amusing summary of each. Here’s just one: “GERALT IS: Stoic. Circumspect. Balanced. Fierce. Soft-and-squishy-in-a-tiny-place-in-his-heart-that-he’ll-never-reveal-until-maybe-the-end-and-even-then-it-will-just-be-a-hint”
The series will be filmed in Eastern Europe
Hissrich has mentioned that she would not dream of leaving out Eastern Europe as a filming location, particularly due to the source material being Polish. A filming card has been recently discovered showing some of the filming locations will include Budapest and Slovakia. In the same thread, she also confirmed the series would be eight episodes long.
We’ll be in safe hands with the writers, directors and producers
The confirmed writers, directors and producers between them have experience working on shows including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, House Of Cards, Supernatural, The Originals and Constantine. So if we’re looking at a story which follows an anti-hero, set in a world where magic and the supernatural exist, yet politics are still very real, it looks like they have it all covered.
[Possible Spoilers] Casting calls have given us insight into the stories that might be explored in the series
Torque and Renfri, only two characters for which casting calls were made, are specific to two different narratives within the Witcher universe. The first, The Edge Of The World, follows the first adventure that now-lifelong-friends Jaskier (Dandelion) and Geralt embarked on together. They encounter Torque, a sylvan who begins as an antagonist but eventually befriends the duo. The second, The Lesser Evil, follows the story behind how Geralt eventually became known as the Butcher of Blaviken, a story in which Renfri plays a vital role as the main antagonist.
[Rumoured] Ciri may not be Caucasian
A recent development, a private casting call was leaked showing that young minority actresses were being searched for to play Ciri, a main character in the series and Geralt’s adopted daughter, who is portrayed as Caucasian in both the books and the games. Although we are unsure as to whether this casting call was legitimate, this has (unfortunately, yet predictably) created a fair bit of backlash. But this aside, the casting of a non-white actress as Ciri does have the potential to be a powerful avenue for diversity if handled correctly.
So all in all? We have high hopes for this series. With a showrunner and leading actor who are passionate about the source material, a set of talented writers, directors and producers, and all the other tidbits of information, it looks like we are in for an epic series that will run far deeper than just fantastical monster fights.