How non-stop calls, skipping holiday helped Henry Cavill get lead role in ‘The Witcher’

Karen Flores Layno, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 12 2019 03:04 PM

How non-stop calls, skipping holiday helped Henry Cavill get lead role in ‘The Witcher’ 1
'The Witcher' star Henry Cavill poses for a photo shortly after the press conference for their Netflix series in Manila. Karen Flores Layno, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — British actor Henry Cavill is in town to promote his newest project, Netflix’s adaptation of the fantasy book series “The Witcher.”

He plays lead character Geralt of Rivia, a solitary “witcher” or monster hunter.

In a press conference at Conrad Manila on Thursday, Cavill revealed that he has been a huge fan of “The Witcher” — way before he became part of the project — largely because of its video game adaptation.

“My introduction to the character first came through the games. I’m a big PC gamer, I’ve been gaming since I was a young boy,” he said, adding that it was only when he got on board that he found out that “The Witcher” was based on a series of books by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski.

“I just assumed they were based from the games that were created. Little did I know that the games were based on the books,” he added. “So I got to those and fell in love with them. And I’ve been a fantasy genre fan since I was a boy as well.”

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So when Cavill heard that Netflix had plans to do a series on “The Witcher,” he left no stone unturned to get the role of Geralt, knowing that it won’t come easy for him. 

The “Superman” star immediately called his agents, and made sure they followed up with Netflix regularly for updates regarding auditions.

“I said at least I want to get into the room here as early as possible because this is really, really important to me... I told them, ‘Keep calling so I find out what’s going on, and don’t stop calling.’ So I called them back every three days and said, ‘Have you spoken to them yet?’ And they kept up with it,” he said with a laugh, adding that his efforts paid off as he made it to the casting process.

But Cavill had one more hurdle as there were many others who were applying for the part. According to showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, more than 200 actors were also eyeing Geralt’s character.

Weeks later, Cavill got a call for auditions and he did not waste the opportunity.

“I think it was six to seven weeks later, I got a call saying, ‘Would you like to audition for the role?’ And I was on holiday at the time, I canceled my holiday and we all flew into New York and auditioned there. And the rest is history,” he said proudly.

Hissrich, who has produced shows such as “Daredevil” and “The Umbrella Academy,” only had good words for Cavill.

“We met 207 other potential Geralts. And at the end of the day, what we realized is as we continued writing those scripts, I always had Henry’s voice in my head,” she said.

She continued: “We shot for 178 days. That’s a lot of days. And we worked for very long hours, mostly through the night, the rain, the snow. You’re counting on your actor not just to embody the character, which is what Henry does incredibly well. You also count on your actor to be a leader on set, to show up, to set the tone.”

Hissrich went on to praise Cavill for his “great attitude” despite his superstar status. 

“One of my favorite things about Henry is how seriously he takes the job. He not only shows up prepared, he knows Geralt inside and out, better than I do now. But he also shows up on time, ready to work with a great attitude. And to me that’s all I want at work every day,” she said.

“The Witcher” will premiere on Netflix on December 20.