The Witcher showrunner Lauren Hissrich says she "fully understands" why fans are furious over Henry Cavill's forthcoming departure.
Speaking exclusively to TechRadar at The Witcher: Blood Origin's UK junket, Hissrich said she sympathised with viewers over Cavill leaving the hit Netflix show. However, Hissrich simultaneously appealed to fans to stick with the TV series, even if Cavill won't be part of its cast for much longer.
Hissrich's response comes five weeks after it was revealed the show's lead actor won't return as Geralt of Rivia after The Witcher season 3. The fantasy series, which returns in Q2 2023, will bring the curtain down on Cavill's reign, with Liam Hemsworth – brother of Marvel movie star Chris Hemsworth – replacing Cavill from season 4 onwards.
In the days that followed, The Witcher's fanbase expressed their shock and dismay that Cavill was walking away from one of his dream roles. A Change.org petition (opens in new tab) – currently standing at over 275,000 signatures – was even set up, calling on Netflix to try and persuade Cavill to stay and sack the show's writing team instead.
For her part, Hissrich says she completely understands the fan anger leveled at her and the rest of the show's creators. However, she also called on The Witcher's fanbase to continue supporting its cast and crew, adding that failure to do so would be to the detriment of upcoming spin-off Blood Origin and future seasons of The Witcher's main series.
"It's a big deal for us, too," Hissrich admitted when TechRadar mentioned how fans had negatively responded to Cavill's impending depature. "And that's the thing – there's a lot of talk and rumors about and we fully understand why fans are going there.
"What I will say is please come back for The Witcher season three so that we can continue to do this. Obviously, that [Cavill's departure] is huge news. But what I don't want to do is – this has to stay about Blood Origin, Declan [de Barra, Blood Origin's showrunner], the cast, and the crew. This is their time in the spotlight."
Cavill is a self-appointed Witcher superfan and his portrayal of Geralt has been a major highlight of one of the best Netflix shows during its first two seasons. Without him, fans fear the mainline series will diverge further from author Andrzej Sapkowski's source material, with large sections of the fanbase previously criticising the plot-based deviations taken by the show's creative team in The Witcher season 2.
As a big Witcher fan, Cavill has been as vocal as its fanbase about his wish for the show to stick more closely to Sapkowski's fantasy novels. In December 2021, he told Netflix's The Witcher season 2 unlocked aftershow (opens in new tab): "I’m a huge fan of the books and staying loyal to them, and it’s about making sure that story happens without too much in the way of diversions or side things going on to muddy the waters."
Multiple rumors have circulated online since news of Cavill's depature broke, with many fans suggesting he'd fallen out with the show's writers and producers over the direction of the show's story. Ever the gentleman, Cavill didn't express animosity towards the series' creative team in his own Instagram post (opens in new tab) about leaving the Witcher TV show. Instead, he chose to ask Liam Hemsworth to carry on Geralt's legacy in the live-action adaptation.
Clearly, there are only a few individuals who know the truth behind Cavill leaving the show and it's highly unlikely we'll ever find out. Hissrich's comments, though, will do little to quell fan speculation about why he's called time on playing Geralt – or convince them to carry on watching the show's main series and/or turn into its spin-offs.
TechRadar will be bringing you more Blood Origin coverage in the lead-up to its December 25 release. So check back in with us over the next two weeks for more exclusives and our full thoughts on The Witcher's second spin-off project.
For more Netflix and The Witcher content, check out the best Netflix movies and best Netflix documentaries. Alternatively, find out how to read the Witcher books in order or watch one of these five bloody fantasies while we wait for season 3's arrival.