Since he announced he was leaving The Witcher after three seasons in October 2022 and will be replaced by Liam Hemsworth as Geralt of Rivia, viewers have been left with one question: Why did Henry Cavill leave The Witcher and what was the real reason for his exit?

In a statement on his Instagram the time, Cavill announced his time as Geralt of Rivia in Netflix’s fantasy series was coming to an end. “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. “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. Liam, good sir, this character has such a wonderful depth to him, enjoy diving in and seeing what you can find.”

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As someone who had fought hard not only to get the series made but to have himself star as the gravelly-voiced monster hunter, this news was totally unexpected, leading fans to theorize as to why Henry Cavill left The Witcher and the reason we should’ve seen it coming.

Why did Henry Cavill leave The Witcher?

The Witcher, Season 1

Why did Henry Cavill leave The Witcher? No official explanation was given as to why Cavill exited The Witcher, but, as is to be expected of the passionate nerd community (of which this writer herself is a part), there are convincing theories. As a true fan of the original books by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski and the video games developed by CD Projekt Red, Cavill fought hard to be cast in the show and took on the lead role as Geralt so long as the writers kept true to the source material. He debuted as the White Wolf in 2019 on a salary that would eventually reach $1 million per episode.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in November 2021, Cavill said he was “absolutely” committed to telling Geralt’s story for seven seasons, on one condition: “As long as we can keep telling great stories which honor Sapkowski’s work.” It’s possible that the show was beginning to diverge too much from the source material and that’s a reason for Cavill’s departure. Interestingly, showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich hinted she and Cavill clashed over the show’s portrayal of Geralt in the same THR interview. “A lot of the notes he was sending to me were about Geralt’s dialogue — could he, first of all, say more,” Hissrich said. “Everybody came out of season one 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?”

Henry Cavill
The Witcher/Netflix

Cavill again alluded to the issue of he and the writers not seeing eye-to-eye in an interview with THE STAR in December 2021. “The toughest part for me was finding that balance between the showrunners’ vision and my love for the books and trying to bring that Geralt to the showrunners’ vision. It’s about treading a fine line there. It’s the showrunners’ story and so it’s an adaptation. The tricky bit for me was finding Geralt from the books’ place within that and being able to serve both as much as I could,” he said. “The things that I pushed for; it was not necessarily just more dialogue. It was bringing a more book-accurate Geralt to the screen. Because as I’m sure you know in the books, Geralt is an amateur philosopher. He’s an intellectual. He’s wise and thoughtful. Yes, he’s at times morose, morbid and snarky. But it’s important for me to have the character be three-dimensional.”

He continued: “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.” In a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse, former writer Beau DeMayo revealed he’d left The Witcher in part because of other writers’ attitudes towards the novels and games. On a now-expired Instagram story, DeMayo claimed “some of [the writers] were not [fans] or actively disliked the books and games (even actively mocking the source material)” per Screenrant.

One user tweeted a screenshot of the many times Cavill had expressed his displeasure in the direction the show was headed and it sounds like Cavill may have finally lost his battle. However, a more cynical take on his exit is that he’s leaving to reprieve his role as the Man of Steel in the next chapter of Superman, either for more money or because his schedule wouldn’t allow for it. “The character means so much to me. It’s been five years now. I never gave up hope,” Cavill told the audience during a live recording of the Happy Sad Confused podcast at 92NY in New York City. “It’s amazing to be here now talking about it again. There is such a bright future ahead for the character. I’m so excited to tell a story with an enormously joyful Superman.”

Liam Hemsworth
Getty Images

The Witcher has become somewhat of a flagship franchise for Netflix, with the adult animated dark fantasy film The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf debuting in 2021 and the four-part prequel series, set 1200 years before the events of the main show, The Witcher: Blood Origin starring Michelle Yeoh to be released at on December 25, 2022.

“It’s been an incredible honor to work with Henry, he brings so much every single day,” Joey Batey, who plays Geralt’s friend and bard, Jaskier, told ET ahead of Cavill’s final season airing on Netflix on June 29, 2023. “So much commitment, so much grit to the role and working day in and day out with him, and seeing how much he puts into this character, it’s really quite inspirational. I’m gonna miss him. I’m gonna miss him a lot.”

Anya Chalotra (Yennefer) and Freya Allan (Ciri) echoed the actor’s sentiments: “I’m excited for them to see the family come together—all of us together hasn’t happened. I think that’ll be nice for them to see,” Allan said.

What is The Witcher season three about?

A press release is as follows: “As monarchs, mages, and beasts of the Continent compete to capture her, Geralt takes Ciri into hiding, determined to protect his newly-reunited family against those who threaten to destroy it. Entrusted with Ciri’s magical training, Yennefer leads them to the protected fortress of Aretuza, where they hope to uncover more about the girl’s untapped powers; instead, they discover they’ve landed in a battlefield of political corruption, dark magic, and treachery. They must fight back, put everything on the line – or risk losing each other forever.”

In how it compares to season two, Cavill told Tudum: “Now, there is a real threat. It’s genuine; it’s no longer theoretical — it’s practical. And it’s very, very dangerous. They’re walking into the lion’s den everywhere they go.”

“In so many ways, Season 3 is the culmination of what we’ve been building toward all along,” showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich told Tudum. “We get to see everything on the Continent change, which is super exciting.”

The Witcher, Season 1

Henry Cavill’s last days as The Witcher

Henry Cavill’s last season with The Witcher ends with his character Geralt taking up the role of father to Ciri. He takes to the role of her protector “like a fish to water,” Cavill told Tudum. “It’s quite lovely to see that underneath this cynical, acerbic, walls-up kind of nature is actually a very loving core.”

As for filming his final seasons, Joey Batey, who plays Jaskier, explained to Dextero: “I was there on Henry’s last day and watched him power his way through a fight scene. I think he had a cold at the time actually; I think he was quite unwell, and yet just threw himself into his final days and hours as the day got longer and longer and longer, and [there was] not a single drop in his energy and his commitment.”

Henry Cavill’s co-stars had no idea he was leaving until S3 wrapped

Freya Allen, who plays Cirilla in the show said Cavill’s co-stars had no idea he was leaving until much later in the piece. “We found out quite a few months after we wrapped,” she explained to Dextero. “So during shooting Season 3, we were all just very focused on doing what we do every year, which is work our asses off.”

Who replaced Henry Cavill in The Witcher?

Liam Hemsworth, best known for his role as Chris Hemsworth’s younger brother—oh, and Gale from The Hunger Games—took over the reins as Geralt from season 4 onwards. In a statement published to Instagram, Hemsworth announced his excitement at joining the Netflix fantasy series. “As a Witcher fan I’m over the moon about the opportunity to play Geralt of Rivia. Henry Cavill has been an incredible Geralt, and I’m honored 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,” he wrote. “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.”’

How fans reacted to Henry Cavill leaving The Witcher

Fans weren’t so pleased with their beloved character’s recasting. “henry cavill a leaving the witcher after begging netflix for the role and being the biggest fan of the franchise is making the report that the writers hate the books seem more and more plausible. they chased that man away from the series. this is sick,” one tweeted. Another wrote: “yes i wanted henry cavil to be superman again BUT NOT AT THE COST OF LOSING HIM AS GERALT THE WITCHER.”

The Witcher is available to stream on Netflix.

The Witcher Books
Image: Courtesy of Gollancz.

If you want to understand why Henry Cavill may have been disappointed with the direction of the Netflix show, read Andrzej Sapkowski seminal Witcher saga for yourself. This box set features eight stories set in The Continent, beginning with the first novel of the collection, The Last Wish, and ending with The Season of Storms.

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