Henry Cavill Went Through Some Shit (and Reddit) Bringing The Witcher to Life

Geralt, suitably scruffed up enough for Cavill’s standards, gets stuck in.
Geralt, suitably scruffed up enough for Cavill’s standards, gets stuck in.
Image: Netflix

It’s very clear at this point that Henry Cavill is dedicated to his role as Geralt of Rivia on The Witcher. The man regretted he could not quite exactly replicate a shot of Geralt in a bathtub from The Witcher 3, damn it. But apparently the actor was more than willing not just get down and dirty in the role but... nearly blind himself in the process?


And no, we’re not talking about by reading Reddit—something Cavill did in the wake of The Witcher’s explosive release on Netflix last year to gauge fan feedback, according to a new interview the actor did with Vanity Fair. “For me, it’s vital to go about and read—I’m on all the Reddit forums. I’m reading all the reviews,” Cavill told the site. “I’m literally trying to get everyone’s information. Some of it is not useful, and other criticisms are incredibly useful. I take it all in, and I look forward to bringing it even closer and closer to Sapkowski’s writing.”

We’re instead talking about Cavill’s gung-ho approach to making sure his Geralt was as faithful to the books and as suitably miserable as possible. Needed to be dirty for a scene? Cavill would go out into the rain and mud and just cake himself in it, instead of relying on set makeup. “I’d go stand out in the rain. Sometimes I’d roll around in puddles,” Cavill continued. “I would just try and get as much of the world on me, so this character looked like he had lived within it.”

But wildest of all of Cavill’s commitments perhaps is an altogether different act of physical endurance: wearing contact lenses. To replicate Geralt’s mutated, yellowed eyes—that dilate depending on light levels to better allow the Witcher to stalk and see his monstrous prey—the actor wore special contacts. While the contacts themselves weren’t so much of a problem, filming in dusty, dirty environments (when he wasn’t rolling around in them, apparently) with them was. At first, Cavill shrugged off his increasingly irritated eyes, until an on-set technician forced him to remove them... because the dust caught in them was doing a number on Cavill’s eyeballs.

“Eventually my eye technician found me huddled in the shade and said, ‘I’m taking the contacts out.’ And I said, ‘No I can’t look different off-camera or when the other actors are looking at me. It’s going to be more difficult for them. They’re accustomed [to] this look, and it’s all part of the design of the character so they have something to react to,’” Cavill recounted. “She said, ‘I don’t care. I’m taking the contacts out because you’re going to damage your eyes. I’m doing it. Otherwise I’m stopping shooting.’ I was like, ‘Okay, okay, okay.’ Took the contacts out. When we went back to Budapest, she took me in to have my eyes checked. It turned out that whatever the dust was, volcanic, it ended up scratching my eye, because it got behind the contacts and was just rubbing there for however long. It took about, I want to say three weeks to heal, and then the contacts were back in.”

There’s commitment to the bit, and then there’s blinding yourself for the bit. Good thing Cavill finally listened, given his apparent willingness to just mess himself up—aesthetically and physically—for this role. At some point before long Cavill’s just gonna start crafting his own swallow potions to chug before fight scenes. And considering they’re explicitly poisonous, we should probably get concerned if it comes to that.


The Witcher’s second season, which is set to resume filming next month, is currently planned to hit Netflix sometime next year.


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James is a News Editor at io9, where you can find him delivering your morning spoilers, writing about superheroes, and having many feelings about Star Wars. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!



There’s commitment to the bit, and then there’s blinding yourself for the bit.

That Snyder cut better finally fix his damn face in Justice League, he earned it.

It’s still too upsetting to see him as the love child of the the Adams (Baldwin and Carolla):