Doug Cockle, the actor renowned for portraying Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher series of video games, has told me he's sad to see Henry Cavill leave The Witcher Netflix show.
Netflix announced Cavill would leave the show at the end of the series three. He will be replaced, in series four, by Liam Hemsworth, the brother of Marvel Thor star Chris Hemsworth.
"Well I think it's really sad," Doug Cockle told me during the latest episode of my podcast One-to-One, available everywhere now (look for "Eurogamer Podcasts").
"And there's a lot of people speculating on the reasons why he's decided to leave, but whatever the reason is, I think it is sad, because Henry, he did a fabulous job as Geralt of Rivia."
The pair met when Cavill invited Cockle to see the premiere of The Witcher Netflix series in London, Cockle said. It was where Cockle first saw what Cavill had done with the role he knew so well. They apparently spoke for a long time afterwards about it. "We spent a good, I don't know, an hour or two, chatting about the Witcher world and being Geralt of Rivia," he said.
When I asked if he remembered what they talked about, he smiled. "You know, Rob," he said, "I have a little memory of our conversation. I remember bits and snatches of conversation, but I think I was quite nervous! And I'd had a beer and it was one of those evenings where I felt a bit like a fish out of water, because it was at the premiere afterparty, and the vast majority of the people there were people involved in the production so they knew each other.
"And it was lovely to be there," he said, "absolutely lovely to be there and to celebrate, especially having seen what they produced, but my conversation with Henry was in the context of me feeling a little bit out of place for obvious reasons. And it not being about me. So it wasn't like we were on our own in a cafe sipping coffee, it was a very charged environment."
"We had some similar thoughts about Geralt if I remember correctly..." -Doug Cockle
But Cockle did remember them having similar ideas about Geralt as a character. "I do remember we talked about Superman, we talked about Geralt and The Witcher. We had some similar thoughts about Geralt if I remember correctly," he said. "He felt the same way I do about him not being an emotionless being, and I think we can see that in his performance.
"So yeah, I'm sad to see him go. I wish Liam Hemsworth the very best of fortunes with it. I am excited to see what he does with it but I'm sad to see Henry go, because Henry, I just felt he did a fabulous job."
Shortly after Cavill's departure was announced, it was reported that Liam Hemsworth was, pre-Cavill, a frontrunner for the Geralt role. This apparently made the recasting decision a quick one, with producers able to go back and reference Hemsworth's original audition tapes.
Hemsworth now has the unenviable task of following a very popular actor's portrayal of the role. Cavill is so well liked there is even a petition to keep him in the role that's 223,000 votes strong, at the time of writing.
"I feel for him, man," said Cockle, "because I don't know that I've seen a lot of Liam's work [...] but it's an impossible position. Because as an actor, you don't want to turn an opportunity like that down, but at the same time, he's stepping into some big shoes, you know."
Some Superman-sized shoes?
"Well, Geralt of Rivia-sized shoes," Cockle replied. "Henry Cavill-sized shoes. Henry really embodied the role of Geralt in a wonderful way."