Why did Henry Cavill leave The Witcher?

It's a question we all need an answer to

Why did Henry Cavill leave The Witcher as illustrated by Henry Cavill as Geralt Of Rivia in The Witcher
(Image credit: Netflix/Future)

Why did Henry Cavill leave The Witcher? It's a question fans of the cult series have been asking since his departure was announced - here's everything we know.

Geralt of Rivia's cool, calm and gruff tones and Henry Cavill's excellent command of the character are what makes The Witcher. Alongside Anya Chalotra's enigmatic Yennefer Of Vengerberg and Freya Allan's wilful Princess Ciri, the three make for a perfectly cast TV adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski's novels. However, after the popularity of the show, it came as a huge surprise to fans when Henry Cavill announced he was stepping away from the role. Read on to find out everything we know about why he made the decision to leave the iconic Geralt behind. 

Elsewhere on Netflix, the Run Rabbit Run ending also brought hints of the supernatural while simultaneously leaving some fans confused. Proving the draw of other-worldly shows, fans are anxiously awaiting the Wednesday season 2 release date. The Watcher true story played out alongside elements of the paranormal, while also getting a surprise season 2.  

Why did Henry Cavill leave The Witcher?

Henry Cavill has never fully explained his decision to leave The Witcher, but there have been several speculated reasons for his departure.

In a statement announcing his withdrawal, Cavill simply said "My journey as Geralt of Rivia has been filled with both monsters and adventures, and alas, I will be laying down my medallion and my swords for Season 4. In my stead, the fantastic Mr Liam Hemsworth will be taking up the mantle of the White Wolf. As with the greatest of literary characters, I pass the torch with reverence for the time spent embodying Geralt and enthusiasm to see Liam’s take on this most fascinating and nuanced of men. Liam, good sir, this character has such a wonderful depth to him, enjoy diving in and seeing what you can find."

Although his statement doesn't directly offer a reason leaving the series, it does appear to hint at what has been most widely speculated - that he left due to writing conflicts. Cavill is apparently a self-confessed fan of the original Andrzej Sapkowski books the show is based on, and allegedly became increasingly frustrated with writers not reflecting the depth of Geralt correctly.

According to Hollywood Reporter, when season 1 had finished airing, Cavill sent showrunner Lauren Hissrich several emails about creatively tweaking and adapting the series differently for season 2. In particular, he wanted Geralt to open up more to viewers. Hissrich said at the time "A lot of the notes he was sending to me were about Geralt’s dialogue - could he, first of all, say more."

She continued "Everybody came out of season one laughing and loving Geralt’s fuming. But Henry was saying that when you read the books you spend a lot of time in Geralt’s head. So how can we put that on the page? Meanwhile, I wanted to tell the story of him becoming a father figure to Ciri. So those two things coalesced wonderfully. He opens up to get Ciri to trust him, by speaking his mind and his heart more."

What began with Cavill putting ideas such as these forwards, apparently turned into frustration that writers weren't faithful to the source material. Cavill was reportedly asking to re-write scenes that had been written for comedy value, that he felt should have been portrayed as serious. Anya Chalotra has hinted at Cavill's breadth of knowledge relating to the original books, and how this has been a help to the cast.

She told Variety "It’s a breath of fresh air to have someone to work with that loves the material. It really is. Because he knows more than anyone about the world of The Witcher, and all the rules and regulations and the terms and Witcher knowledge - he’s up there. So to work with that, it’s a blessing because there are days when you might disbelieve the world a little bit more than the next. And he’s there to go, 'Hang on, we’ve got this.'"

Henry Cavill as Geralt and Anya Chalotra as Yenefer in The Witcher

(Image credit: Susan Allnutt/Netflix)

There was also initial speculation Cavill had left the show to allow him to take on more DC projects in the role of Superman. An Instagram post in October 2022 even announced his return to the role. However, if he did leave for that reason, it was a premature departure as he was dropped from as Superman not long afterwards.

In another Instagram statement shortly afterwards, Cavill wrote "I have just a meeting with James Gunn and Peter Safran and it's sad news, everyone. I will, after all, not be returning as Superman. After being told by the studio to announce my return back in October, prior to their hire, this news is not the easiest. But that's life." 

What has Liam Hemsworth said about joining The Witcher?

Liam has acknowledged he has "big boots to fill", but is excited to take on the role of Geralt of Rivia.

In an Instagram statement, he said "As a Witcher fan I’m over the moon about the opportunity to play Geralt of Rivia. Henry Cavill has been an incredible Geralt, and I’m honoured that he’s handing me the reins and allowing me to take up the White Wolf’s blades for the next chapter of his adventure. 

Henry, I’ve been a fan of yours for years and was inspired by what you brought to this beloved character. I may have some big boots to fill, but I’m truly excited to be stepping into The Witcher world."

His arrival to the role has received mixed reactions from fans. One commented on his announcement saying "Congrats! I am a very die hard Witcher fan, and am sad to see Henry leave us but excited to see what you will bring!"

Another added "I respect Henry for stepping down, but the writers are gonna move forward with SOMEONE of course. Liam would do excellent in this role! I think even he would prefer Henry, but that's not happening. Lets just all respect the situation for what it is and see how it goes. Looking forward to seeing you as Geralt, Liam!"

However, some fans were extremely unhappy with the decision. One said "Nothing against you, but no. The show should've been cancelled if Henry is leaving. Least they could've done is make a different character for you."

Another jumped in with "Respectfully, please don't do this. Henry is Geralt and s4 will kill the series off if this goes ahead." 

The Witcher season 4: Cast

Although The Witcher season 4 cast hasn't been officially confirmed, Anya Chalotra and Freya Allan are expected to reprise their roles as Yennefer and Princess Ciri.

Anya Chalotra has apparently confirmed her return in an interview with Variety. She said "There are so many situations Yennefer hasn’t been in yet, and it’s only until I experience that with the character that I know where she would go, how she chooses to get out of a certain situation or get into one." 

Freya Allen has reportedly undergone a contract negotiation to return for season 4, and season 3 newcomers Christelle Elwin, Juliette Alexandra, Ben Radcliffe and Connor Crawford are also set to make a return. Speaking to Deadline,  casting director Sophie Holland said "I had a really lovely opportunity recently with a very special - almost standalone - episode of season four of The Witcher, which is exploring a completely new group of people." 

She added "The whole group is very exciting in terms of talent: Christelle Elwin, Juliette Alexandra, Ben Radcliffe. You meet the characters in season three and then they come into their own in season four."

Another Netflix character fans have been sad to say goodbye to is Devi, from Never Have I Ever. When season 4 was announced to be the show's last, viewers weren't ready to see the end of Devi and her romantic woes - although opinions remain divided about the person she ended up with in the Never Have I Ever ending. Viewers of global hit police drama have also been wondering why Douglas Henshall left the show - we delve into the reasons.   

Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and moms.com. In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.