Henry Cavill’s departure from The Witcher shook the fandom to the core and left it with many questions regarding how, why and what now. There are many speculations regarding the reasons and anxious waiting for some official words. That said, the seeds of this situation may have been growing for a long time now and we’ll look at a piece of information we were told back in 2021 that may have been the beginning of all this.
It all may have started on Season 2
Back in Summer 2021, when The Witcher Season 2 was in post-production and Season 3 hadn’t been renewed yet, we heard from a source that recasting Geralt was a growing possibility at Netflix. The reason for that was that Henry Cavill and the producers allegedly “weren’t seeing eye to eye” regarding content and Geralt’s role in the The Witcher.
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.
And indeed, our beliefs were solidified when Season 3 was officially confirmed in September 2021 and a little later, in November, a report from The Hollywood Reporter appeared saying Cavill had “just renewed” his contract and would be getting $1 Million per episode for Season 3 as opposed to $400K, his earlier The Witcher salary.
After that chronologically came The Witcher Season 2 promo tour. Cavill made it very well known during that tour that he had been pushing for a more book-accurate Geralt as he kept saying a variation of that in almost every interview he gave.
Knowing about Geralt’s possible recast just a few months earlier, made the impression that while Henry was returning for Season 3, his frustrations weren’t completely gone since he made that a constant talking point during that time. Here’s just one example:
“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.
The things that I pushed for, it was not necessarily just more dialogue. It was bringing a more book-accurate Geralt to the screen. […] All of my asks and requests were along the lines of just being faithful to the source material.”
Nevertheless, we believed that whatever issues Henry had, Netflix solved it with the renewal of his contract. We assumed the matter was closed, Henry Cavill made peace with his role and would still be Geralt of Rivia until the end of the series.
Now, however, Deadline reported that “Cavill had made a short-term deal for The Witcher and felt it was time to move on after three seasons on the show“.
With the context of the previous report about his “new deal”, it looks like Cavill agreed to stay at least for one more season after Season 2 and chose not to renew his contract for further seasons when the time came this year.
The Superman angle
Meanwhile, the Superman opportunity appeared again. Dwayne Johnson claimed that he and his manager Dany Garcia, who is also the manager for Cavill, have been trying to get Henry Cavill’s Superman back in the DCEU for six years, but were constantly rejected by the old Warner Bros management, while under the new management they finally succeeded in the recent months.
One recent report by The Hollywood Reporter says that a new Superman film is in very early development without any writers or directors attached. It’s unclear when will they find a writer and when they could start filming, but it’s very very early and major films like that can take a very long time to get underway.
On the other hand, writing for The Witcher Season 4 had just started and filming could get underway in the second half of 2023.
A schedule conflict between Superman and The Witcher isn’t impossible, but Cavill himself said in a 2019 interview that he could manage both, when asked that question:
“You’ve got to keep in mind that regardless of what movies I’ll be doing over the next few years, you can fit two projects into one year.”
In the same round-table, he expressed his desire and hope to reprise the role of Superman and said he had still much to give to the character. So at least from Henry’s perspective, Geralt and Superman could coexist.
The result of the two factors
All in all, the various pieces create a picture, as incomplete as it might be.
Henry Cavill was at first very enthusiastic to play Geralt and was willing to make efforts to combine both Superman and The Witcher in his schedule. Even before he landed the role of Geralt, according to Dwayne Johnson, his return as Superman was already being pushed behind the scenes, albeit unsuccessfully.
Then in 2020 and 2021, Cavill was working on Season 2 of The Witcher and was constantly having disagreements with the producers over the work he was doing. After Season 2 wrapped, he seriously considered leaving The Witcher, but was offered more money and decided to stay for at least one more season.
Even then, during an interview, he said he was “absolutely” committed to seeing all of the seasons of The Witcher through, but “as long as we can keep telling great stories which honor Sapkowski’s work”. With the current news, it appears that this was less of a wish and more of a condition.
During the filming for The Witcher Season 3, we did notice that some within the Witcher production started following Liam Hemsworth on social media. Naturally, we didn’t think anything of it, but now it appears that the new Geralt auditions may have taken place while Season 3 was still in production.
By the time Season 3 was in its final stages of production, major changes were happening to Warner Bros and DC with the new bosses being open to having Henry Cavill as Superman again. As a result, during that time Cavill filmed his Black Adam cameo.
In the end, it appears that Henry Cavill’s heart was no longer in the Netflix’s iteration of The Witcher for a considerable amount of time and he has slowly been making up his mind ever since Season 2 finished production, before all those Warner Bros and DC changes.
His return as Superman had a perfect timing this year and may likely have been that one final push towards not renewing his contract for Season 4 of The Witcher.
Henry Cavill may have hinted at his departure earlier
Cavill may have had a commentary about this situation a few days ago in his interview with Josh Horowitz. In it, he talked about the importance of having belief in what you’re doing career-wise and the importance of stopping when you believe what you’re doing is wrong.
“It’s just about belief. If you believe what you’re doing then you’ll be able to keep on doing it. 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 on going just because. Because that leads down a dark path.“
Cavill doesn’t name The Witcher at this point, as his departure was a secret at the time, but one can easily assume that this was his philosophy when deciding to quit the series.
Still, the story is incomplete
All of the above isn’t implying at any definitive version of the story. At the end of the day, we can piece together any pieces of info we want and speculate about what really happened, but we may never know the details and the intricacies behind what happened behind the scenes.
For all we know, there may be more to the story that we aren’t aware of. Tensions? Contract issues? Pay issues? Story issues? All of the above? Who knows, really.
Perhaps years later we may get a comprehensive account from someone reputable, who was directly involved.
In any case, we have one more season with Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia and he will inevitably provide some form of elaboration during the Season 3 promo tour in Summer 2023.