The Witcher Showrunner Explains Why One Change Was Made To Henry Cavill's Geralt From The Books

Geralt in the bathtub in Netflix's The Witcher Season 1 screenshot

Are you a fan of The Witcher? Not simply the Netflix version, I mean, but all of the Geralt-oriented projects that came before the new release. If you are, you may realize that Henry Cavill’s streaming version is a little bit different, particularly from author Andrzej Sapkowski’s books.

In the version led by showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich on Netflix, Henry Cavill plays Geralt as a character who grunts a lot –yes that’s become a thing people on the Internet talk about – he’s also a man of few words and lots of action. Hissrich says that while they “go back to the books constantly” they realized early on that Cavill didn’t need to talk as much as Geralt does in the novels. She noted,

We go back to the books constantly, in terms of his look, his attitude, his tone, all those things. What’s really fun is I can put all of that on a page, but then I have an actor come in who has to bring this character to life. I love that collaboration and in any process you have to leave the space for that to happen. For instance, in the first episode, when I originally wrote it, Geralt spoke a lot because that’s what he’s like in the books. People always think of Geralt as stoic, but in the books he talks nonstop. When we were onset and especially when we got in the cutting rooms, we realized we didn’t actually need all that exposition. Henry brings such a depth and layered performance to Geralt that we don’t need him to tell us everything he’s feeling.

A lot has been written about Henry Cavill’s performance on The Witcher so far. The general consensus really does seem to be that he’s magnificent as Geralt. (Seriously, even author Anne Rice is getting into Cavill as Geralt.) (Equally seriously, Andrzej Sapkowski is happy with how the actor looks.)

Lauren S. Hissrich also told THR the big change from talking Geralt to action Geralt happened naturally once the creative team realized what they were working with. As the season wore on, the scripts starting matching Henry Cavill’s take on the character more and more and got away from all of the exposition-heavy material found in the books.

He can do it in a single look or a grunt. He grunts a lot. We immediately starting pulling back on that and by the time we shot the final episode, the script much more matches what’s onscreen because together we really learned what was working. In that way, we honored a lot of what’s in the books but also made sure it works for the guy that you see onscreen.

She says she ultimately feels the final product should be a mashup of what fans of Andrzej Sapkowski’s written are used to and the show’s own take. The Witcher was always trying to “honor” the books while still finding its own footing.

So far, the show really hasn’t sat well with a lot of critics, but it has seemed to find a fairly wide audience on Netflix. This is no small feat for a fantasy series and has drawn a lot of comparisons, fairly or unfairly, between The Witcher and Game of Thrones. A show has a lot to live up to when it is being compared to a book and video game series with legions of fans and one of the most popular fantasy shows of all time, also with legions of fans.

Luckily, it’s already been renewed for Season 2, so there will definitely be more where that came from. We’ll let you know as soon as The Witcher gets back into gear, but it could start filming as early as spring of next year.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.