Some eye-popping news has surfaced about how actor Henry Cavill tackled the intensive role of mutated monster hunter Geralt of Rivia for Netflix’s highly anticipated The Witcher adaptation.
Fans of the ’90s fantasy saga of novels and short stories written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski — or its half-dozen other adaptations as a graphic novels and the popular Witcher video game trilogy – know the white wolf for his towering stature, scarred skin, milk-white hair, and, of course, his striking eyes. In the short “Something More,” Sapkowski describes Geralt’s eyes as “narrowed, piercing… as sharp as a spear tip.” While direct written references to a specific color are scant, the author has described another witcher’s as “bright yellow” — the hue that the Witcher video games made Geralt’s eyes and the type of colored contacts that Cavill had to wear while filming the first season of the Netflix series.
But bringing that look to life wasn’t a walk in the park, and it took a serious toll on Cavill’s own vision.
Speaking exclusively to Metro UK, the Geralt actor shared that he was only supposed to wear his Witcher contacts for three hours at a time due to the discomfort and potential damage the eyewear could cause.
“Drying out isn’t the problem, it’s that part of your eye, it’s the only part of your body that receives oxygen from the air rather than blood,” Cavill said. “And so if you’re covering it up, you’re not getting any oxygen to it, and over a long period of time, you will do damage to your eyes.”
While on set, an eye technician monitored and supervised Cavill and his tricky contacts. The actor noted that she was incredibly strict about the use of the contacts, and regularly hounded him about removing the contacts when he was supposed to, regardless of the production’s shooting needs “because you will start to go blind after a while.” Despite knowing the potential permanent consequences, the actor admitted that he basically brushed off her regular warnings and was quite stubborn about removing them.
“I was sure she was probably selling a slightly more dramatic version of the truth because I do tend to be a bit stubborn like that,” said Cavill with a laugh. “And I’ll say, no, it’s alright we can shoot, [a] couple more hours will be fine. And she said we won’t be fine. You’ve got to take them out now.”
Unsurprisingly, the actor’s eye-technician was right, but the Witcher star had to learn the hard way while filming on and around the volcanic rock of the Canary Islands. As the wind and the crew’s movement lifted the light and loose materials around them, the area would become very dusty. For anyone who’s ever worn contact lenses, the next part of Cavill’s story will sound painfully familiar.
“[Dust] got in behind the contacts, so my eyes ended up being scratched,” he revealed. “I didn’t realize it was scratching, so we went back to Budapest after our trip to Canary Islands. But it got to the point where I couldn’t really keep my eyes open, my eyes were watering, [and I] had to try and wash everything out.”
The star initially attributed the “very stingy” and painful experience to being tired, telling himself to, in true Geralt fashion, “muscle through it.” Unfortunately, Cavill’s eyes aren’t enhanced like his character’s, and thus are susceptible to the same injuries as the rest of us regular mortals. So when his technician found him one bright day huddled up with his eyes closed, she took a stand.
“She said, ‘Take them out.’ And I said, ‘No, No, I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. Just give me some things to dab my eyes before a scene will be good,'” Cavill explained. “She put her foot down and said, ‘No, I’m stopping shooting until you take them out.'”
While dedication to a role is admirable, Henry Cavill was quite lucky to have someone with the foresight to protect his eyes when he wouldn’t.