A couple of days ago, it was announced that Henry Cavill will play Geralt of Rivia in the Netflix adaptation of The Witcher. The internet was… typically chill about it.
It’s difficult, casting an established actor into a well-known role. When that character comes from the world of literary fiction, it can be even more difficult, as everyone (and their dog) has a firm mental picture of that character.
Now imagine that character isn’t just from a successful series of books, but has also appeared in a number of major video games. That’s right! You haven’t just been imagining them with your mind’s eye for years! You’ve been seeing them with your other, non-metaphorical eyes!
It’s therefore understandable that the casting of Henry Cavill – or clean-cut, suave, handsome British Superman, as we like to refer to him – has raised a few eyebrows. Cavill is the secret inspiration photo male models keep in their journal. Geralt, on the other hand, looks like he’s made entirely out of sandpaper and albino hedgehogs. He’s rough, is the key takeaway, here.
It may surprise the denizens of the internet to learn that often, actors are not exactly the same person as the character they play. In some cases, they’re even quite different!
Take Bryan Cranston as Breaking Bad’s Walter White. While he’s an actor with a long and varied career, to that point, everyone knew him as the brow-beaten dad from Malcolm in the Middle. There didn’t really seem anyone less suited to the descent into a sociopathic drug baron, but everything turned out well in the end. Well, it turned out very badly, but you know what I mean.
How about Daniel Craig as James Bond? The internet was, at the time, losing its mind over the fact he has blonde – not brown – hair. That turned out quite well in the end.
Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes? That seemed like madness. Now Jude Law as Watson, that makes sense, but
other than an affinity for opiates there wasn’t any plausible link between Downey Jr. and a Victorian-era British supersleuth. And while we’re on the subject, Guy Ritchie directing a Sherlock Holmes movie was bonkers, too, but it actually turned out rather splendid.
Chris Pratt as Star-Lord? Yes, the chubby comic relief from Parks and Recreation reimagined as an MCU superhero? Yeah, nobody bought that, and then this dude rocked up:
So really, after all that, does it seem so unfeasible, so ridiculous? Surely Netflix can slap a long white Sephiroth wig and some grey stubble onto Henry Cavill for a convincing Geralt; well, as long as they don’t try and use the same method that DC used to edit out his moustache in Justice League. Maybe best to stick with make-up and practical effects.
We also know that Cavill is a fan of the series. He’s played through The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt more than once; his most recent replay was earlier this year, while he was working on Mission Impossible: Fallout. He even said in an interview with IGN that he would be interested in the role. It’s not outside the realms of possibility that he was using that replay to bone up on the game’s lore – and Geralt’s character – before attending a casting meeting.
It sounds like it worked: showrunner Lauren Hissritch took to Twitter to say that Cavill was her first choice – and indeed, first meeting – for the role of Geralt of Rivia.
He was my first meeting. I didn’t have writers or scripts yet – just a greenlight and a lot of passion. That was four months ago, and I’ve never forgotten the passion he brought. He IS Geralt. He always has been. I’m so thrilled to welcome HENRY CAVILL to the #Witcher family.
— Lauren S. Hissrich (@LHissrich) September 4, 2018
So perhaps it’s best not to write off Cavill before he’s even donned the white wig. You really never know – he’s probably going to be another one of those casting choices who seem unusual but turn out to be perfect, and we all have a good laugh about the hand-wringing and complaining afterwards.