As Superman in Man of Steel and the DCEU, August Walker in Mission: Impossible – Fallout, and Sherlock Holmes in Enola Holmes, it’s fair to say that Henry Cavill has become a pop-culture star. Playing iconic characters and featuring in mega-blockbusters, it’s all going swimmingly for the English actor.
Cavill is even being discussed as one of the frontrunners as the next James Bond. Just being in a James Bond film is a huge deal, as our risqué issue cover star Ben Whishaw would attest to, but getting the starring role would add yet another iconic character to his filmography.
Perhaps his most heavily-publicized role to date, though, has been his most pop-culture-driven yet, as Geralt of Rivia in Netflix’s The Witcher series. Based on a book series made famous by a video game adaptation franchise, the character represents the epitome of a pop-culture icon being played on screen, and it’s also demonstrating a shift in celebrity behaviors.
In part, Henry Cavill got the part because he’s a tremendous actor, a big-name, and has a suitable physique to stand as an on-screen version of Geralt. However, he also managed to land the role because of his commitment to the character, having spent hours in video games as the monster slayer for hire. Now, he’s hit the headlines again for his dedication to the role, moving to the studio from his idyllic Yorkshire home to ensure that production can continue.
As is always the case in this social media-driven world, there were plenty of descanters when Cavill was unveiled as the man to play the lead of Geralt. To counter this and raise the prestige of the show, though, the English actor was very open about his method of getting the role and his motivation behind playing the character.
He famously told Entertainment Tonight that he would call his agent every day to get him an audition from the moment that he heard of The Witcher being in the works. From the time that he started berating his representatives, Netflix hadn’t even selected a showrunner. Continuing to push despite being told to wait, he eventually got the sit down with Lauren Hissrich.
Hissrich was informed of Cavill’s persistence, sat down with him, and explained that there wasn’t even a script to read. Still, from then on, his voice stayed with the showrunner, which helped to mold the story of the popular character. After seeing over 200 more potential Geralts, all roads led back to the actor who had played the games and read the books.
It’s quite amazing that something as seemingly trivial as playing video games and reading the source material for said games, could be the deciding factor for a high-profile, big-money role. Cavill hasn’t been shy about detailing the reasons behind his desire to play the part, either, telling Polygon that he connects to the character’s nature from the books, and has also spent many hours playing as Geralt in The Witcher game series.
Video game-based movies and series look to become more and more prevalent over the coming years, which has seen several celebrities ‘come out’ as gamers themselves. This is in stark contrast to the forms of gaming that had been popularised by celebrities and Hollywood in the past, particularly gambling games. It used to be that the entertainment medium that showcased celebrity glitz, glamour, and fun was the casino.
You’d regularly hear about Ben Affleck playing blackjack, Tiger Woods at the roulette wheel, Ray Romano shooting craps, or Matt Damon sitting at the poker table. Now, however, just about anyone can play those casino games online. The most popular online casino table games, like roulette, craps, and baccarat, have brought the celeb-dominated action to the people, which appears to have opened up more celebs to showing their more ‘average Joe’ side.
Cavill is just the tip of the iceberg, being a self-confessed avid player of World of Warcraft and The Witcher. There are several others, like Mila Kunis with WoW and Call of Duty’s Nazi Zombies mode, Daniel Craig on GTA: Vice City and Halo, Jessica Alba on Nintendo classics, and Megan Fox with Mortal Kombat – which she had hoped would turn into a big-screen role for the upcoming movie remake.
Perhaps Cavill’s success as Geralt of Rivia will encourage more celebrities to reveal their secret gaming side, especially as there’s set to be a tidal wave of video game properties hit the big screen in the near future.