Geralt of Rivia has his own way of doing things. Whether it’s killing monsters, inspiring ballads, or accidentally attending orgies. Yes, even his accent, which (when not just grunts) exists somewhere between gruff assistant cricket coach and cigarette-smoking great-aunt. In an interview with Polygon, Cavill shared details about his accent choice for The Witcher—which is, let’s just say, interesting.
The television show and book series it’s based on are inspired by European folklore, and most of the actors in the series speak in a British accent. Cavill himself is British (a fact that never fails to surprise me when I hear him talk), and he told Polygon that “it would have worked” if he’d used his normal accent. But instead, Cavill gave Geralt something else entirely. It’s curt, it’s hoarse, and it uses a lot of “hms.”
He said he wanted to create a voice that could say a lot in just a few words since his version of Geralt wasn’t very talkative, partially because he was sharing the season with two other main characters (Yennefer and Ciri). He was heavily inspired by Doug Cockle’s performance in The Witcher games, but made his version of Geralt slightly more British instead of American.
“I definitely pulled and borrowed from Doug Cockle’s performance in the games, which was extraordinary. He did an American accent and he had it in a slightly different register. He had a bit more of a whisper to the tone. And I wanted to bring it down to a British [accent], and have a bit more stone and grit in there so it could all the necessary things that Geralt needs to convey in, in a few words rather than in a whole short story,” he said.
That said, I wouldn’t go calling it any kind of specific regional accent. Even though Cavill shared that Geralt, in the books, does indeed have a “Rivian accent” (meaning the land he called home even though he wasn’t born there), that’s not what Cavill was going for. He told The Wrap he wasn’t actively trying to invent a Rivian accent because he was worried that if other actors ended up doing a similar accent, it would confuse the audience. Instead, he just made something he thought would be cool for Geralt.
“For me, it wasn’t necessarily about giving Geralt a specific accent which was different from everyone else, because that would be impossible because there are a lot of English accents and eventually you’re gonna run into someone who has a similar accent because they are trying something different,” Cavill said. “It was about bringing a voice to Geralt which was expressing the essence of who he is in the books and bringing that to the space in the format that was allowed within the show.”
Of course, it’s not like we get to hear him speak all that much anyway. This Geralt is a pretty stern fella and there’s a reason for that. In an earlier interview with Gizmodo, showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich shared that she changed the part of Geralt to be less talkative after casting Cavill, saying that the actor could do a lot “in looks and grunts.”
“One of the things that probably shifted the most once we cast Henry is that Geralt speaks a lot less than I initially intended. In the books, Geralt’s actually quite chatty. He talks a lot. What I found, though, is that on-screen—especially with Henry portraying him—a lot can be done in looks and in grunts. Henry’s a big grunter. I mean that in the best way possible,” she said. “It’s kind of amazing what is accomplished in silence, and I think makes him that much more powerful of a character.”
The Witcher’s first season is currently available on Netflix, and it’s already been renewed for a second season.