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SYFY WIRE The Witcher

To bring The Witcher to life, Henry Cavill rolled in puddles, wore volcanic contacts & braved Reddit

By Jacob Oller
Henry Cavill The Witcher

Noted The Witcher superfan Henry Cavill (Man of Steel) was the perfect pick to bring the mutant monster hunter Geralt to life for a live-action Netflix series, but his dedication went beyond a love of the Andrzej Sapkowski books and CD Projekt Red games source material. From the sounds of it, The Witcher required an exacting toll on his body ... but one he was all too willing to pay.

Speaking to Vanity Fair, Cavill recalled the many physical hardships he weathered to make Geralt of Rivia as faithful an adaptation as possible — and sometimes that weather was literal. Explaining how he kept his Witcher so grimy throughout his adventures, Cavill noted that his makeup team was a little too gun-shy with the dirt and muck.

"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. I would just try and get as much of the world on me, so this character looked like he had lived within it."

Henry Cavill standing in the rain in full Geralt duds, looking like a high fantasy Shawshank Redemption, is a perfect image. It's certainly far less disturbing than the story he tells about getting his eyes right for the role. The contacts needed to turn Cavill's baby blues into Geralt's yellowish cat-like orbs were apparently pretty intense — like "maybe leave you blind if you wear them too long" intense. And Cavill was stubborn.

"When we went to the Canary Islands, there was lots of very fine volcanic dust flying about in the air, and my eyes were getting more and more sore," the actor said. "I just thought it was because it was so bright. I would literally have to go hide in the shade before each take, and then force my eyes to stay open for scenes because they were burning. I just thought I needed to toughen up a little bit."

Turns out, he had a right to be uncomfortable. "When we went back to Budapest, [my eye technician] took me in to have my eyes checked," Cavill told Vanity Fair. "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 truly is no rest for the Witcher.

Even when he's not actively harming his body to film the series, Cavill is braving the depths of the internet for the role. Not only is he checking out all the reviews of the series, he's digging deep into the fandom to find out what the diehards think. "I know that there’s mixed opinions out there as well, which I really thrive upon reading as well. For me, it’s vital to go about and read—I’m on all the Reddit forums," Cavill said. "I’m reading all the reviews. I’m literally trying to get everyone’s information. Some of it is not useful, and other criticisms are incredibly useful."

So if you've ever complained about a highly specific thing on a Witcher-related Reddit thread, you might want to keep an eye on Cavill's performance whenever Season 2 hits Netflix — perhaps the star will have taken your note.

(via Vanity Fair)