By Liz Brinks


Fans of The Witcher were dealt a horrifying blow this Halloween weekend with the scariest news of all: Henry Cavill would be departing his now infamous role as Geralt of Rivia to be replaced with The Hunger Games star Liam Hemsworth. The immediate reaction online can be summarised in one word: scalding. Some fans even called for season 4 to be cancelled altogether.

Since December of 2019, Cavill as Geralt of Rivia has gripped watchers of The Witcher. The actor earned plaudits for his establishment of a new character type – "grimes up good", as one Twitter user put it – which was in sharp contrast to his established on-screen image. Superman is meant to be the hero, a clean-cut farm boy destined to save the world. Geralt is an anti-hero who's anything but well-groomed, too often in need of a bath (much to the delight of parts of the fandom).

To recast a fan favourite is a questionable decision to put it mildly, one that risks tarnishing not only the show but the reputation of any actor stepping in as a replacement, with a negative audience reception and critical response having the power to leave a black mark on the resume of anyone bold enough to step up.

Liam Hemsworth is not the right fit to replace Henry Cavill in a role he has so perfectly owned – he's not, because he can’t be. No one can, or should be asked to; Cavill as Geralt is a pitch-perfect piece of casting that should not be and cannot be replicated.

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Liam Hemsworth
Liam Hemsworth. Mike Smith/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

So then, if Netflix is set on continuing The Witcher beyond Cavill's final season rather than wrapping up the series, what is the solution?

Geralt of Rivia is not the only Witcher in Andrzej Sapkowski’s universe. This seems, again, to have escaped the producers of the show, who would certainly have been in for an easier time by simply following a new Witcher in the same universe.

After all, this is about season 4, not fine-tuning after a pilot debut. It is a grave error to assume Geralt being recast is better than killing him off-screen, or writing him out by some other means, and allowing his motley crew of survivors and friends to continue the story. Why not pivot to Ciri, and allow Freya Allan to take up the mantle alongside Joey Batey (Jaskier) and Anya Chalotra (Yennefer)?

Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia in Netflix's The Witcher
Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher. Netflix

It's difficult to imagine the abrupt shift prompted by recasting the show's lead helping to serve the series's supporting characters. If anything, as The Witcher seeks to establish Hemsworth as the new Geralt, we risk losing valuable screen time which might otherwise have been allocated to supporting plot threads – moments with Ciri and Geralt, and Jaskier and Yennefer. Instead, the writers' room is now tasked with distracting from a seismic change.

Cavill's exit impacts the entire cast, since their stories are now all contingent upon what Hemsworth is able to conjure up – and whether viewers accept this change at all remains to be seen.

Geralt of Rivia is Cavill, with the star having grasped the role with both hands, provoking adulation from the fandom. He was unforgettable, irreplacable, as this husk of a man now turned into a monster, attempting to protect the ones he has come to care for and vanquish the monsters among men without entirely becoming one himself.

Simply put, no one wants to be in Hemsworth’s shoes right now, facing down a hostile fanbase as The Witcher team attempt to make the best of a bad situation. Even the most cynical fan will be hoping that the spark of the Cavill seasons will remain as the series ventures forth into an uncertain future, but right now, with the shock of Cavill's departure still palpable, it's difficult to shake the feeling that this misstep might snuff out that spark entirely.

The Witcher is available to stream on Netflix – visit our guides to the best series on Netflix and the best movies on Netflix.

If you're looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide or visit our Fantasy hub for all the latest news.


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