What does it take to transform into Geralt for The Witcher TV series? Aside from hitting the gym, it seems Henry Cavill took some unusual measures to get himself prepared for the role – including taking a soak in some puddles.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Cavill went through some of the methods he used to transform into gruff Witcher Geralt. Rather than opting for a wig which would have distinguished him from the video game version, Cavill felt the silver locks were “important to the character”, although it seemingly caused a headache for the costume department.
“Jacqui Rathore, who was in charge of the wig for me, she was having nightmares about that wig,” Cavill said. “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.”
The wig ended up being more of a grey than a white colour, in the end, as apparently the set lights made the latter “shine like the moon”. Making sure Geralt felt dirty and rugged was clearly important for Cavill, as he wanted to make sure Geralt truly belonged to the world.
“The costumers were, towards the end, quite horrified with me”, Cavill said. “Before takes I would look at myself and say, ‘we need more dirt on me.’ They’d come up to me with this tiny little – it’s like a pair of tights rolled up into a ball, with some dust in, and they’d sort of pat it on me. And I’d say, ‘yeah, guys, that’s not enough’. So I’d go stand out in the rain. Sometimes I’d roll around in puddles.”
Beyond dipping himself in muddy puddles, it seems Cavill really did suffer for his art. Thanks to the volcanic ash in the air when filming in the Canary Islands, the golden contacts he was wearing made his eyes sore – to the point where an eye technician insisted he either took them out or stop filming. After getting them checked out at a later date, he discovered the volcanic dust had actually scratched his eye, meaning he couldn’t wear the contacts for three weeks until it healed.
As for Geralt’s voice, Cavill took direct influence from Doug Cockle – who plays Geralt in the games – and kept things simple by saying very little. Cavill hoped this approach would show Geralt’s 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,” Cavill added. “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.”