Henry Cavill was able to leave the role of Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher with "his head held high", the Netflix show's executive producers tell Yahoo UK as they reflected on the actor's exit from the franchise.
The actor announced in October 2022 that he would be passing on the torch to Liam Hemsworth after choosing to leave the role after the third season, the first part of which lands on Netflix on Thursday 29 June and the second on 27 July.
It is not often that a major character is recast partway through the story, but executive producers Steve Gaub and Tomek Baginski insist that the transition between the two will be "flawless" and will match with what Andrzej Sapkowski set out in his original novels.
With season 3, Cavill leaves behind a lasting legacy he can be proud of, Gaub says: "It's a very strong season for Henry, a great final run for him as Geralt.
"I think the most important thing for us was to make sure he was very proud of those last [scenes], invariably those last moments are the ones you leave an audience with, and those last couple episodes are very strong episodes for him.
"I think he left with his head held high and passing the reins as many franchises end up doing, passing a title character from one actor to another, and we're going to be in great hands with Liam.
"We're looking forward to the new explorations of Geralt with a new person behind it, a new actor and a new face."
Henry Cavill's exit storyline will be "flawless"
The first half of the season finds Geralt, Princess Ciri (Freya Allan) and Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra) on the run after the events of season 2, with the trio trying to hide from the soldiers of Nilfgaard who are trying to capture the princess and bring her to her father, Emyhr var Emreis (Bart Edwards).
Baginski shares that fans of the books will recognise the story they have drawn from to explain Cavill's exit from the franchise.
Read more: Henry Cavill's Warhammer universe explained
"I don't want to get too emotional, but it was a great journey to have Henry Cavill on this show and we will miss him," he says.
"But, at the same time, we have a very, very good plan to introduce our new Geralt and our new vision for Geralt with Liam.
"Not going deeply into those ideas because this will be a huge spoiler, [but] it's also very, very close to the meta ideas which are deeply embedded in the books, especially in book five."
Depending on how Baginski is counting Sapkowski's work, this could be a reference to Baptism of Fire, if he's including the short story collections, or The Lady of the Lake, which is the fifth novel in the Witcher Saga.
"It's very lore accurate," Baginski adds. "It's very close to what was set out in the books and I think this change will be quite flawless.
"But at the same time it will be a new Geralt, it will be a new face for this character and I think it will also be very, very exciting to see."
Ciri will take centre stage
Season 3 of the fantasy epic is based on Sapkowski's novel The Time of Contempt, the second book in The Witcher saga, and it sees Allan's character Ciri come into her own both in terms of her magic and as an aspiring Witcher.
Read more: New on Netflix UK in June 2023
Gaub and Baginski heaped praise on Allan for tackling the character's arc this season with huge enthusiasm, because it was a huge undertaking given the events of the novel.
Baginski explains, "Time of Contempt is a really good book, some people say it's the best book of the saga and it's very rich in the story.
"It's very rich in the character arc and the events, which then influence the future of the franchise, the future of the universe, the stories of almost all characters, basically."
"It's the book where the future of the whole Continent changes, and changes dramatically," he goes on.
"So I think this was very exciting to do, but especially for Freya. This is also the book where Ciri –let's be blunt about this– becomes the main character of the saga, because this is how it was done in the books, and watching Ciri evolve, and watching Freya evolve as an actress in this season, was incredible, just incredible."
Gaub concurred with this sentiment, adding that Allan "attacked it with incredible enthusiasm" and says: "She knew it was coming, and she knew it was her time to step up centre stage and really carry a lot of massively important moments to the overall story.
"And to see that all done within this still relatively young actress, navigating the path of a character going from protected young teenager to burgeoning adult amidst all of the dramatic challenges that the story conveys.
"[She's] thrown in with a new family, on the run across The Continent, trying to figure out what this inner magic means and what her destiny really is.
"It's just so much rich material for her to dig into and and she did so with enthusiasm, that's not even mentioning the additional fighting and stunts that she got to do, which she's also a huge fan of. As we say in America, she knocked it out of the park."
The Witcher season 3 part 1 premieres on Netflix on Thursday, 29 June and part 2 will be released on Thursday 27 July.
Watch: the trailer for The Witcher season 3 part 1.