Henry Cavill delves into some witcher family drama in The Witcher season 2
Just call Geralt of Rivia daddy witcher — and not because sex symbol Henry Cavill plays him.
As the British actor explains in an interview with EW, it's because of how The Witcher season 2, loosely based on Andrzej Sapkowski's Blood of Elves book, sees its titular warrior embracing his "paternal side" as he trains his Child of Surprise, Princess Cirilla (Freya Allan), to master the power within her.
"He's got this deep down White Knight Syndrome, even though every time he acts upon it, it gets him into some serious trouble — and puts him and everyone else in a worse position than initially intended," Cavill says. "But with Ciri, she's definitely bringing out the paternal side of Geralt. While he hasn't necessarily been someone who craved children, he does take quite naturally to being a protector."
In season 1 of The Witcher, as told through multiple timelines, Geralt came to the kingdom of Cintra and saved the knight Duny. As a reward, Geralt claimed Law of Surprise, an old custom in which a person saved by another must offer up that which is unknown to one or both parties. Queen Pavetta, as it happens, was unknowingly pregnant with Ciri at the time, making the unborn princess Geralt's boon.
Years later, after the invading Nilfgaard Empire washed over Cintra, forcing Ciri to go on the run, Geralt embarked on a journey to find her. They finally met in the season finale, and not a moment too soon. A mysterious power has awakened in Ciri and threatens to harm everyone around her if left unchecked.
Season 2 won't have all the varying timelines that made season 1 such a puzzle box, Cavill says, but he teases "multiple cliffhangers throughout a [single] episode."
Most of the characters, including sorceress Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), are spread out. So, the new episode arc for Cavill and Allan is "focused on Ciri's journey and her experience, and what she is feeling about this awakening of who she is and discovering these powers that she has."
In an effort to train his young adopted daughter — in some ways, she is just that — Geralt brings Ciri to Kaer Morhen, the mountain fortress where the witchers of the School of the Wolf train up youngins in the ways of the witcher. Since the castle's sacking, an event chronicled in the anime film Nightmare of the Wolf, it has become a sanctuary for witchers to rest up during the winter months to recoup their strength for more monster-hunting come spring.
Killing Eve's Kim Bodnia will debut in The Witcher season 2 as Vesemir, Geralt's father figure and mentor.
"Kim and I were discussing the emotionality of these characters, and Kim brings some powerful emotion to [the role] and a real sense of soul and heart and connection to the wild and connection to nature," Cavill remarks. "It's beautiful to watch and beautiful to be a part of. Some of my favorite scenes I got to perform with Kim. He does bring something really special to the character, and I think people are really going to enjoy it."
Becoming a zaddy... excuse us, daddy himself, changes things for Geralt. While the character was "a bit of a grumpy, dark, mysterious hero" in season 1, Cavill says he wanted to "bring [out] more of that intellectual, philosophical, wise Geralt" in season 2.
"I really wanted to avoid him being too one tunnel," he explains. "Even though he may be dark and mysterious at times, I wanted him to come across as this incredible character that [Sapkowski] wrote. Those are things that I really pushed for and tried very hard to get into the show."
That doesn't totally preclude classic grumpy Geralt — he's still in there.
The Witcher season 2 premieres on Netflix this Dec. 17.