While we wait patiently for The Witcher season 3, there's some good news and some potentially bad news for fans of the fantasy series: Netflix has renewed the show for a fourth season, but star Henry Cavill won't be returning as Geralt of Rivia.
As per the Netflix announcement, Liam Hemsworth – perhaps best known as Gale Hawthorne in The Hunger Games series – will be stepping into the role. That casting change is just about the only information we have on season 4 at the moment.
"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," said the departing Cavill in a statement. "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."
"As a Witcher fan I'm over the moon about the opportunity to play Geralt of Rivia," added Hemsworth. "Henry Cavill has been an incredible Geralt, and I'm honored 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."
Wait and see
You can of course find reactions of all kinds to the news on social media, but it's probably best to reserve judgment on the switch until season 4 actually appears – though it's fair to say Cavill has been great in the role and is going to be hard to replace.
In an ideal world the casting would have stayed fixed, but there's no reason why Hemsworth can't also impress as Geralt. We've recently seen deliberate casting changes in HBO's House of the Dragon – another epic fantasy series that's developed a loyal following – showing that they can work if done right.
Then there's Doctor Who of course, which recently said goodbye to Jodie Whittaker as its main star. The difference here is that casting changes are built into the narrative of the show, but again its evidence that they don't have to kill the momentum of a series.
We are going to have to wait a while to see how Hemsworth does though. Presumably filming hasn't yet started on The Witcher season 4, and there's no indication that it will get underway shortly either. We're looking at a 2024 release at the earliest.
Netflix will be hoping the change from Cavill to Hemsworth won't have an impact on the popularity of the show, which is one of its biggest hits. The spin-off The Witcher: Blood Origin is making its debut on Christmas Day and should keep fans going until season 3 drops at some point next year.
What we didn't get from Netflix is any reason for the change. Given Cavill has just revealed that he's returning as Superman in another movie, perhaps he just doesn't have the time for The Witcher any more – or perhaps he just feels like he needs to take some time away from the Continent now.