The 28 Most Controversial Recasting Decisions in TV and Film History

“The Witcher” is saying goodbye to Henry Cavill and hello to Liam Hemsworth. Though the third season of Netflix’s hit fantasy series has yet to reach audiences (it’s expected on the service sometime in summer 2023), the streamer is getting ahead of news that Geralt of Rivia will be played by Hemsworth beginning in Season 4.

“My journey as Geralt of Rivia has been filled with both monsters and adventures, and alas, I will be laying down my medallion and my swords for Season 4,” Cavill said in a statement in late October. “In my stead, the fantastic Mr. Liam Hemsworth will be taking up the mantle of the White Wolf. As with the greatest of literary characters, I pass the torch with reverence for the time spent embodying Geralt and enthusiasm to see Liam’s take on this most fascinating and nuanced of men.”

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Cavill gave no explanation for his departure (though it comes on the heels of his return to the role of Superman, as seen in a post-credits scene of the profoundly underwhelming “Black Adam.”) Based on the books by Andrzej Sapkowski and further popularized by the video games of the same name, “The Witcher” saw Cavill infuse humor and charisma into a hulking monster hunter with a fondness for profanity and big bathtubs. His performance earned significant critical praise, but the actor’s departure is just the latest in a long-running list of controversial cast shake-ups.

Changes to a movie or series’ acting lineup take various forms and can happen at any point during the life of a project. Take “Don’t Worry Darling”: the Olivia Wilde-directed dystopian drama-turned-PR disaster and its notorious swapping of would-be star Shia LaBeouf for pop star Harry Styles during pre-production. Or consider TV shows such as “House of the Dragon,” which recast their most shining stars between episodes and seasons to more believably depict the passage of time. And finally, there are those most contentious partings, from the murky accusations and counter-accusations of “Batwoman” to the “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” schism that left Will with a new Aunt Viv.

To honor Cavill’s time as “The Witcher” and celebrate the return of the regal rotating door that is Netflix’s “The Crown,” IndieWire looks back at 28 of the most controversial recasting decisions on screens big and small, from Evie O’Connell in “The Mummy” franchise to Darrin Stephens of “Bewitched.”

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