Henry Cavill Reveals The Worst Part Of Playing The Witcher
Henry Cavill's fans aren't the only ones who are thirsty. The new face of Geralt of Rivia recently sat down with Graham Norton back in his native England to talk about his role on Netflix's The Witcher. The scene everyone was desperate for after the first Witcher trailer arrived - the monster-hunting Geralt sitting in that famous wooden bathtub, naked as the day he was born - was the big clip featured during Cavill's interview with Norton, and that naturally invited questions about how he prepared for The Witcher's most famous scene.
Fans are at least casually familiar in this age of Thors and Supermen that the diet required to maintain a perfectly sculpted brickhouse physique is punishing and mostly comprised of eating one's weight in boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Chatting with Norton about how he got ready to portray Geralt, Cavill revealed a new twist in the horror-show that putting perfect bodies on film necessitates: purposefully dehydrating himself over several days.
Cavill explained that the worst part about playing Geralt was the sharp decline in fluid intake he had to endure to get ready for all the shirtless scenes. He told Norton,
"On the first day, you'll have, like a liter and a half [of water], the second day a half-liter, and then the third day, no water, and you'll shoot on the fourth."
He went on to say that by the time he's done shooting on that fourth day, he's, quote, "the most miserable person on Earth."
But why, though? Isn't putting Cavill through an incredibly bland and utilitarian diet for months on end for the sake of vanity enough?
This method of purposeful dehydration is a common one for bodybuilders preparing for competition or photoshoots, boxers and MMA fighters trying to drop pounds before weigh-ins, and actors alike. Sure, Cavill is still massive in size and could probably crush a watermelon between his bicep and forearm, but the high-definition cut of his musculature requires tricking the body temporarily. Warning: We don't recommend trying any of this without medical supervision!
Dehydrating is the final step in the process towards a temporary period of maximum muscle definition, and bodybuilders refer to it as "peak day." The first stage, about two weeks before the target date, requires temporarily increasing your sodium consumption, which tricks the body's usual water retention ratio. At first, it will retain water, but eventually re-adapt and normalize. When sodium intake is severely cut a week later, water will rapidly exit the body along with it, meaning there's almost no added water weight or possible bloating because of it. Along with this process, consumption of carbs are cut to almost nothing. This temporarily supercharges burning the minuscule amount of excess fat left in the body.
It's a precarious balancing act to increasingly deprive yourself of water, and yet give your muscles enough hydration to handle those workouts that still have to get done. The skin thins for the lack of fluid within and underneath it, giving that last little bit of definition. At the end of all that, you get exactly one perfect day to get slicked over with baby oil and tossed into tastefully-opaque bathwater for five minutes of sexy footage.
For The Witcher, Cavill had to go through this grueling process repeatedly for every single one of the several scenes in which he's featured shirtless, because his super-cut physique can't be consistently maintained for the weeks and weeks it takes to film a TV series. You're hungry and thirsty, and when you're not working in front of a camera, you're still working off-site in a gym with an entire team of people monitoring you down to the finest, dehumanizing detail.
Cavill said in the interview that by the end of all those day-4 shoots, he had a peculiar sensation.
Sounds like one of Geralt's special skills …
Bless Henry Cavill for his dedication and patience, because this whole process sounds like the absolute worst. See the results for yourself on Netflix, where Season 1 of the The Witcher is now streaming in its entirety.