In hindsight, fans of Netflix’s hit The Witcher couldn’t have asked for a better casting choice than Henry Cavill to play Geralt of Rivia. Prior to the show’s debut earlier this month, however, the story was much different.
Perhaps it was a poor choice of preview images or simply an unconvincing wig, but something about Cavill’s interpretation of Andrzej Sapkowski’s character didn’t sit well with many fans. Indeed, a prevailing air of caution quickly rose around many of the actors chosen by showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich due to a perceived mismatch between not just Sapkowski’s original works, but CD Projekt’s critically acclaimed video game series. Those concerns, while fair, ultimately turned out to be utterly unnecessary, of course, as audiences have immediately fallen in love with not just Cavill’s Geralt, but Anya Chalotra and Freya Allan’s performances as Yennefer and Ciri, respectively, too.
One burning question that still remains, though, is just how did Cavill prepare for his role and, moreover, where did he draw the majority of his inspiration for Geralt’s gravelly voice from?
In a recent interview with Polygon, Cavill finally provided an answer.
The voice for me really helped with the directness of it [Geralt’s bluntness], because I could say something so short — and it can be a single word, or it could be three words — and it would mean as much as a sentence, with that particular voice involved. And I definitely pulled and borrowed from Doug Cockle’s performance in the games, which was extraordinary. He did an American accent, and he had it in a slightly different register. He had a bit more of a whisper to the tone. And I wanted to bring it down to a British [accent], and have a bit more stone and grit in there so it could convey all the necessary things that Geralt needs to convey in a few words rather than in a whole short story.
The extent of Cavill’s research into Geralt’s mannerisms and distinctive vocalizations has ultimately paid off, then, as both followers of Sapkowski’s source material and the more mainstream game series contributed to the formation of the monster hunter’s live-action debut. It helps too, no doubt, that Cavill himself is a massive fan of The Witcher in his own right. In fact, the Hollywood star has sunk more hours than most into The Witcher 3, having completed it multiple times.
The entire eight-episode first season of The Witcher is now available on Netflix.