Interview: Henry Cavill on His Intense Transformation in ‘The Witcher’

written by Jasper XI.VII

Henry spoke with Vanity Fair and discussed the eye damage, multiple wigs, and impromptu mud baths behind the hit series, The Witcher!

Vanity Fair: When you take on roles like Superman or Geralt, which have an existing fandom, is your approach different than it would be while playing a role that doesn’t come with that burden of expectation?

Henry Cavill: I suppose it is. I approach every role in the same way, with 100% effort and dedication. But with an IP attached, more often than not, I am already a fan of that IP if I’m playing the character. For me, there’s a heavy responsibility to do the character as much justice as possible from the source material.

When you approach a role from the perspective of both a performer and a fan, do you give more input? Do you feel more ownership over what a character like Geralt might or might not do?

I do think it carries more weight if an actor is well-versed in the lore. And it’s certainly beneficial to my performance if I know the world. There was collaboration in the process. I would make notes because the schedule was grueling, to say the least. I would often do my work in my two hours of hair and makeup every morning. When it came to getting to set, I’d have a few suggestions about dropping lines that felt they were too obvious. When it comes to book Geralt, it tended to be a bit more complex and nuanced than that.

Ultimately, [this was] Lauren’s vision and it was my place to represent Geralt, my character, as accurately to the books as I possibly could. I would email her every now and again, when a new script came through and she would always be receptive of the emails. [But] it was entirely up to her whether she chose to apply the thoughts in [them].

What were the challenges in translating a character like Geralt, who has a running inner monologue readers can follow along with, to the screen?

In the books, he has a very grim exterior and everything about him is potentially unlikable. When you couple that with the book’s inner monologue, you forgive him and you have an understanding for who this character is, because he has these long complex conversations with kings and queens. And he can have those same conversations with thieves and villains. And you really get an idea of the level of the philosophical nature of this character.

Lauren’s vision was more of an ensemble piece than the first Witcher books. It’s driven a lot more by the characters of Yennefer and Cirilla. So instead, I decided that less was more. I wanted to really show Geralt’s perceptiveness, his intelligence, his old age, his wisdom, because he’s an old man, essentially, as far as we’re concerned. That, for me, was hopefully going to give the audience—it’s almost like they’re trying to crack a cipher when it comes to Geralt. So when he does say something, it means something. He’s not shouting from the rooftops, and yet he is as large as a house of a character.

How much of that comes through in the actual voice that you developed for him, which is very different from your natural speaking voice?

The voice work really was very much in line with the idea of the character saying little. With Joey [Batey], who plays an amazing foil for Geralt in Jaskier, it’s nonstop jibber jabber. A lot of it’s very funny. I took rather obvious inspiration from Doug Cockle, who voices Geralt in the games. He has a slightly more whisper tone than mine. And it’s an American accent. But mine, I tried to make it as different as possible, so I’m not just copying him. A lot of my inspiration came from there, but I didn’t work with any voice coaches. I just found it as I went along.

With the look of Geralt, you could have gone a couple of ways. If you wanted to distinguish him entirely from the video game version, you might have chosen a different wig.

The wig was a long, long journey. Jacqui Rathore, who was in charge of the wig for me, she was having nightmares about that wig. She was taking it home every night—I think she had three of them—she was taking them home every night, working on them more and more and more. But by the end of the show, by episode one reshoots, fortunately, the wig was just on point. For me, for the character, it was important to have that white wig. It’s gray more than anything else now, because white on camera, in those lights, ends up shining like the moon and it looked, frankly, ridiculous.

Read the full interview at Vanity Fair!

Henry Cavill for Inquirer Entertainment

written by Jasper XX.XII

Last week, Henry flew to Manila, Philippines to promote The Witcher, and Inquirer Entertainment had a one-on-one chat with him. Check out an excerpt below and the full interview at their website. I have also added some outtakes into the gallery!

You’re a gamer. Does that inform your performance as monster slayer Geralt of Rivia, the Butcher of Blaviken, in “The Witcher”?
It would be impossible to say that it doesn’t inform my portrayal in the series. Because there’s a huge influence that that experience had on me. I mean, I played the game for hundreds of hours (laughs). And so, there will always be an influence in one way, shape or form.

It’s about me making sure my target is realized. And that is to make Geralt as accurate to the books as possible, and as enjoyable for people like myself and “The Witcher’s” fans, as well. That was always my goal. I wanted to make Geralt the character who I experienced and continue to experience [as an avid gaming enthusiast].

In what way do you channel Geralt’s brooding demeanor? Are you as dark in person, because we mostly associate you with Superman and the other larger-than-life characters you portray?
I think everyone has some darkness in them. As an actor, it’s about accessing those different parts of your personality that are required for the role. With Geralt, it’s not necessarily his darkness that’s interesting, it’s more his stone-cold exterior and indifference.

When you see him commit what some people would call atrocities, he’s actually not doing it out of darkness. That’s what is interesting about the character, his intentions always come from the light, not from his dark side—not like August Walker [in “Mission: Impossible”].

In fact, even August Walker’s intentions were [good], but he was just willing to do some terrible things to achieve them—which made them dark! Whereas Geralt, his actions are always intended to do something good. It’s just unfortunate that the path he takes tends to shine a dark light upon his actions.

There’s some fine singing in “The Witcher,” which helps leaven the doom and gloom of the material. It somehow brightens all that dark brooding. Didn’t you want to sing in it, too? We know that you played Sonny in “Grease” when you were in school.
Absolutely, the music here is fantastic. But that’s actually a wonderful reflection of “The Witcher’s” world. The bard Jaskier (Joey Batey) is such a fantastic character because he does seem to work as contrast to all of the show’s darkness, grim politics and harsh realities.

But as far as having Geralt do some singing, he really isn’t much of a performer. Would he ever sing? It would be difficult to sing in that gruff and brooding voice, I think. No, he hasn’t got much of a singing voice (laughs).

Henry Cavill for Men’s Health

written by Jasper XIX.XI

Henry has graced the cover of next month’s Men’s Health magazine! In the interview, he talked about his movie projects, The Witcher, and whether he’ll play Superman again. You can read the full feature at Men’s Health website, but here’s an excerpt:

The Witcher combines the sneaky charisma Cavill displayed in U.N.C.L.E. and Fallout with the sinew and strength he built up for his superhero roles. After working on Fallout, Cavill was keen to do his own stunts on The Witcher, including rigorously choreographed sword fights. But he was most excited, he says, about the chance to understand Geralt’s place in the world. “It’s funny how much he’s actually like us,” he says. “Geralt has that thing of trying so damn hard and being misconstrued or not appreciated—of people having a negative opinion of you, despite you actually trying to do the right thing.”

Which brings to mind Cavill’s lengthy stretch as Superman—the three movies that made him an international star while also leaving a large segment of fans unsatisfied. He’s cautious when discussing the films themselves, so consider these assessments the height of his candor: Man of Steel? “A great starting point. If I were to go back, I don’t think I’d change anything.” Batman v Superman? “Very much a Batman movie. And I think that realm of darkness is great for a Batman movie.” Justice League? “It didn’t work.”

Cavill almost reprised his Superman role for a blip-sized cameo in this year’s Shazam! but says he couldn’t do it because of his Fallout schedule. That absence—coupled with the fact that The Witcher could wind up as a Game of Thrones–like epic that eats up a huge chunk of his calendar—furthered the speculation that his time in the cape was finished. “I’m not just going to sit quietly in the dark as all this stuff is going on,” Cavill says of the rumors. “I’ve not given up the role. There’s a lot I have to give for Superman yet. A lot of storytelling to do. A lot of real, true depths to the honesty of the character I want to get into. I want to reflect the comic books. That’s important to me. There’s a lot of justice to be done for Superman. The status is: You’ll see.”

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