Why is Henry Cavill leaving The Witcher?

Cameron Frew
Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher

The Witcher Season 3 Volume 2 is streaming on Netflix, marking the end of Henry Cavill’s era as Geralt of Rivia – but why is he leaving the show? Here’s what you need to know.

Cavill made his debut as the White Wolf in 2020, instantly assuring devout fans of the games and Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels that he was the right man for the job; how could he not after breaking his longsword through a man’s jaw in Blaviken?

It was a dream role for the star, having actively lobbied for it and eventually winning over showrunner Lauren Hissrich. They cast a wide net for the part, auditioning 207 other actors before going back to Cavill.

However, last year he broke the news that he’d be departing the series and handing the reins over to Liam Hemsworth – so, why is Henry Cavill quitting The Witcher?

Why is Henry Cavill leaving The Witcher?

While not confirmed, Henry Cavill’s departure from The Witcher can be attributed to two likely reasons: creative differences and his brief comeback as Superman.

Let’s deal with the Man of Steel first. On October 24, 2022, after weeks of teasing by Dwayne Johnson, Cavill officially announced his return as Superman in the DCEU following the release of Black Adam. “A very small taste of what’s to come, my friends. The dawn of hope renewed. Thank you for your patience, it will be rewarded,” he wrote.

Less than a week later, the star shared some devastating news from The Continent. “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,” he wrote.

Many fans were left stunned and upset, already declaring their intention to boycott the rest of the show if he wasn’t starring in the lead role. However, it was at least understandable at that point: if he was playing Superman again, there’d be inevitable scheduling conflicts, right? Well, not quite: two months later, after James Gunn and Peter Safran had been tapped to run DC Studios, Cavill’s return was nixed, with David Corenswet instead set to don the red cape in Superman: Legacy.

“After being told by the studio to announce my return back in October, prior to their hire, this news isn’t the easiest, but thats life. The changing of the guard is something that happens. I respect that,” he wrote in a statement.

How much of a role this played in his exit from The Witcher remains unclear, but the timing was curious. Also, as soon as Cavill clarified he wouldn’t be coming back as Superman, Netflix also confirmed that his departure was final.

Henry Cavill reportedly had creative differences with The Witcher team

The prevailing theory is that Henry Cavill quit The Witcher as a result of long-bubbling creative disagreements with Lauren Hissrich and her writing team.

As per a report from Redanian Intelligence, these creative differences date back to Season 2, with one source claiming that Netflix was considering recasting Geralt because Cavill wasn’t seeing “eye to eye” with the show’s producers.

“At the time we believed Henry wasn’t 100% serious about it and would not really go through with leaving the series since he fought so hard to get that role. So instead of reporting on it, we chose to sit on this information and see where it goes,” they added.

In 2021, Hissrich spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about Cavill’s extensive notes about Geralt’s dialogue. “Could he, first of all, say more? Everybody came out of Season 1 laughing and loving Geralt’s fuming. But Henry was saying that when you read the books you spend a lot of time in Geralt’s head. So how can we put that on the page?” she said.

For example, Cavill specifically objected to the script when it came to the death of Geralt’s horse Roach, so Hissrich allowed him to come up with something on his own – which ended up being a “pitch perfect moment.”

Cavill then spoke to Philstar ahead of the second season, discussing how tough it was to find “that balance between the showrunners’ vision and my love for the books, and trying to bring that Geralt to the showrunners’ vision.”

“The things that I pushed for, it was not necessarily just more dialogue. It was bringing a more book-accurate Geralt to the screen… it’s important for me to have the character be three-dimensional. And it’s tricky to do, as I was saying earlier, because there’s a certain vision and there’s a certain set storyline and plot. And so, it was about me trying to find Geralt’s place within that. All of my asks and requests were along the lines of just being faithful to the source material,” he explained.

There’s been other murmurings too: former writer Beau DeMayo claimed that some of the writers “actively disliked the books and games” to the point they “mocked” the source material, and director Alik Sakharov left the project because his vision was too different from what the producers had in mind. Sakharov is particularly important, as Cavill described him as “one of the few directors who has the right approach to actors”, and the filmmaker praised him as “the best thing” in the series.

Shortly before announcing his exit, Cavill appeared on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, where he spoke about his approach to IP and work ethic, with many believing his comments foreshadowed the news.

“It’s just about belief. If you believe what you’re doing is the right thing then you’ll be able to keep on doing it,” he said.

“It’s also important to know that if you realize you’re doing the wrong thing, that’s when you stop doing the wrong thing. You don’t just keep going just because, because that leads down a dark path.”

In the lead-up to the third season’s release, there doesn’t appear to have been any bad blood between Cavill and Hissrich: he said it was an “honor” to work on the show, and the showrunner promised a “heroic sendoff” after giving “so much to the show… so we want to honor that appropriately.”

The Witcher Season 3 is available to stream on Netflix now. You can check out our other coverage below: 

Sign up to Dexerto for free and receive:
Fewer Ads|Dark Mode|Deals in Gaming, TV and Movies, and Tech