Henry Cavill on Playing Geralt of Rivia, His Favorite Fantasy Authors, and Why 'Evil is Evil'
On December 20, The Witcher will finally drop on Netflix after months of anticipation. The fantasy series, based on the series by Andrzej Sapkowski, explores the world of magic and monsters through the lens of three pivotal characters: the witcher, Geralt of Rivia (played by Henry Cavill); the sorceress, Yennefer of Vengeberg (played by Anya Chalotra); and the princess, Ciri of Cintra (played by Freya Allan).
It’s already being compared to Game of Thrones, yet The Witcher exists in a vastly different brand of fantasy than GOT. The Witcher steps away from political intrigue and into the realm of high fantasy, particularly the world of The Continent, which is rife with creatures, curses, and evil.
The eight-episode action-adventure series already has millions of fans to please, including those in Manila that Cavill and showrunner Lauren Hissrich visited in early December. Fresh from Brazil, the duo chatted with Esquire Philippines, and with Henry, we talked about Geralt of Rivia, the fantasy genre, and why evil in any form is still evil.
ESQUIRE PHILIPPINES: Geralt, like Superman and Walter Marshall, your previous characters, is quite serious and grave. He walks with a weight on his shoulders. What is it that makes you gravitate toward these kinds of roles?
HENRY CAVILL: I don’t think there’s anything in particular that makes me gravitate toward these kinds of roles. Maybe there is and I haven’t identified it yet. For me, in particular, with Geralt of Rivia, it’s because I’m a huge fan of the fantasy genre, and in particular, this character within the fantasy genre. I’ve read the books and loved them and played the games and loved them. Now I get to be in the show. Dream come true.
ESQ: Aside from Geralt, what makes The Witcher different from all your other projects? What drew you to this project?
HC: What makes him different from other projects? So many things make him different. I don’t think I could talk to you for 45 minutes more on that one question alone, so I won’t, because we have four minutes. It’s the love of the lore [that drew me to this character]. I’ve been reading fantasy genre since I was a boy, and this character is so well written by [Andrzej] Sapkowski that it’s just a fantastic opportunity to actually play him on TV.
ESQ: You mentioned that you’re a big fan of fantasy. What are your favorite fantasy novels, films, or video games?
HC: I would say—can we mention my favorite writers rather than novels because they’ve written so many?—each one of these writers: Raymond E. Feist, David Gemmill, actually David Gemmill first. I discovered Gemmill first then went into Raymond E. Feist after that. I wouldn’t want to narrow it down to anyone in particular—Brandon Sanderson was fantastic with the Stormlight saga, Wheel of Time—I love that series of books and I understand they’re making it into a TV show as well. And Naomic Novik with her Temeraire series, it was incredible as well.
ESQ: Geralt has a firm view of the greater evil and the lesser evil. What are your personal views on his iconic quote, 'Evil is evil'?
HC: I agree with it. I think he’s been in enough situations where choosing the lesser evil doesn’t make it any less evil. It’s still evil. And I think that’s an important outlook. It doesn’t necessarily mean you get to choose, because he just says, if I had a choice, I’d rather not choose at all. And I think that’s a probably good way of going through life, at least, so you can put some perspective into things and think, just because it’s the lesser evil doesn’t mean I have to do either of them.