The Witcher boss responds to fan backlash and Henry Cavill’s departure

Image: Netflix
Image: Netflix /

Ever since the surprise announcement that Henry Cavill was leaving Netflix’s monster-hunting fantasy show The Witcher after season 3, fans have wondered how his replacement, Liam Hemsworth, would handle donning the white wig to play Geralt of Rivia. No matter how good of an actor Hemsworth is, he has an uphill battle to win over fans after Cavill’s universally praised turn as the character.

But there’s one person who’s not particularly worried: The Witcher showrunner Lauren Hissrich. “I’m so excited for viewers,” she told Total Film of the recasting. “I think that it’s just a new chapter for us. And I think new chapters bring new energy and that people will find things to love. So yeah, personally, I’m really excited.”

That said, obviously the pressure is high for The Witcher to have a great third season and a solid transition. Fans took the news pretty badly, going so far as to start a petition calling for Cavill to stay and for the show’s writing staff to get canned.

“It’s a big deal for us, too,” Hissrich told TechRadar. “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, [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."

You have to applaud Hissrich for how well she brought things back around to the cast and crew of The Witcher: Blood Origin spinoff, which will soon have their chance to shine. That show comes out later this month, and the press junket interviews were supposed to wholly focus on all things Blood Origin. But of course someone was going to ask about Cavill — it’s a pretty big deal that he left, and so far no official statement has really come out to explain why.

The Witcher season 2. Image: Netflix
The Witcher season 2. Image: Netflix /

Did The Witcher writers “actively dislike” the source material?

We’ll be reporting plenty on The Witcher: Blood Origin. In the meantime, there’s more juicy drama to discuss about the mothership Witcher show! Remember a couple months back when former Witcher writer Beau DeMayo claimed that some people in the show’s writers room “actively disliked” the books and games? Here’s the quote, in case you need your memory jogged:

"I’ve been on show – namely Witcher – where some of the writers were not or actively disliked the books and games (even actively mocking the source material.) It’s a recipe for disaster and bad morale. Fandom as a litmus test checks egos, and makes all the long nights worth it. You have to respect the work before you’re allowed to add to its legacy."

That particular comment stirred up quite a lot of ire from fans. Thus far the writers remaining on The Witcher haven’t taken the bait…until now. Hissrich addressed that accusation on Instagram. “I think if you watch… any interview I’ve ever done… including those with [Andrzej Sapkowski]… you’ll see that I am quite a fan of the books. (And the games),” Hissrich wrote. “Do you believe… that when one person states something as fact, that it’s therefore fact? This particular thing is not a fact. I love the books. (I’m shit at the games, but that’s me, not them.)”

"I’ve never mocked the books… The books are my entire livelihood, I have a great relationship with Mr. Sapkowski, and writers rooms are sacred and safe and — more than anything — supportive spaces. Don’t believe everything you read."

She also talked about Beau DeMayo specifically. “I have great respect for Beau, and the episodes he wrote! The striga episode is one of my favorites. He wrote the one where people came to Kaer Morhen and Eskel died, which had a lot of backlash, but he was brave in telling the story he wanted to tell. It takes a lot of balls to do that. I respect that.”

Current Witcher writer calls former writer’s assertions “a whole mess of lies”

Hissrich wasn’t the only one weighing in. After Gamespot published an article highlighting Hissrich’s response to TechRadar’s question about Cavill’s departure, writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach took to Twitter to back up his boss:

So did Matthew D’Ambrosio, script coordinator for the series:

D’Ambrisio took things a step further, accusing DeMayo of lying to cover up the fact that he was “fired for being an asshole” and that he’d stirred up a “bullshit narrative” that has tainted The Witcher. He also characterized DeMayo’s assertions as “a whole mess of lies from an ex-writer of the show.”

“I played the games before I read the books AND THEN I got the opportunity of a lifetime to work on the sort of show I’ve always wanted to be on. And guess what? It’s still a dream job!” D’Ambrosio wrote.

D’Ambrosio says DeMayo was fired, which isn’t something we’ve heard before. DeMayo is currently working on the X-Men ’97 animated series for Marvel and Disney+, something he claims he was approached about in 2020. DeMayo wrote the striga episode from  The Witcher season 1, the episode where Eskel died in season 2, and the animated Nightmare of the Wolf spinoff movie.

We may never find out exactly what happened behind the scenes of The Witcher, but we’ll be paying attention. The Witcher: Blood Origin premieres on Netflix on December 25.

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