Few people were expecting The Witcher to become the cultural phenomenon that it became, given that the video games are arguably much more well-known than the book series, and both video game adaptations and dense fantasy shows alike have generally tended to be a tougher sell towards uninitiated audiences with no connection to the source material.
However, any preconceptions were blown out of the water when The Witcher ended up dominating the cultural conversation and becoming the most popular TV show on the planet, leading to a huge boost in sales for both the video games and author Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels. With star Henry Cavill also having officially signed on to continue playing Superman in the DCEU, the English actor is now riding the crest of a wave as a key figure in two massive brands with huge global reach.
Despite spawning a thousand memes for his performance as Geralt of Rivia though, and giving his fans the apparently contractually-obligated shirtless scenes that they were expecting, the Mission: Impossible – Fallout star also came in for criticism from some quarters for his work in the lead role, which a lot of people felt was lacking in personality.
In a recent interview, the 37 year-old admitted that he was expecting the backlash given that the TV adaptation doesn’t have the benefit of Geralt’s inner monologue like the books do, but that he tried to tailor his performance to the material so that the character would appeal to both longtime fans and newbies alike.
“I think any of those criticisms, they often lie in things like I was saying, we don’t have the advantage of a long involved conversation or dialogue with Geralt, so they are criticisms which I think I was prepared for. So for me, it’s about seeing that, understanding it, and working out how I can do my job better within the framework provided, how to appease and make those people feel comfortable that I do actually understand this character and love this character just as much as they do.”
Geralt of Rivera isn’t exactly a showy role that an actor can really sink their teeth into, but most fans seem to be in agreement that Cavill’s blend of intense physicality, gruff charisma and ability to draw out both dramatic and comedic moments from the smallest of gestures or one-word answers has been one of the major factors behind the popularity of The Witcher, despite how little he’s given to work with on the page.