Henry Cavill’s girlfriend Natalie Viscuso has been forced to apologise after blacked-up pictures from 2008 Namibia trip resurfaced online.
The row the images caused was so fevered that there had been calls for Netflix to drop Cavill from his part in hit show The Witcher because of his association with her.
The 38-year-old actor, who plays the character Geralt of Rivia in the series, began dating reality TV star turned Hollywood producer Viscuso, 31, earlier this year.
EXCLUSIVE: Henry Cavill’s girlfriend Natalie Viscuso forced to apologise after blacked-up pictures from 2008 Namibia trip (pictured) resurface online
Cute couple: Cavill, 38 began dating reality TV star turned Hollywood producer Viscuso, 31, earlier this year
Yet since they became close both he and Viscuso have been engulfed in a growing row around the pictures taken when she was just 18 – despite it preceding Cavill’s relationship with her by well over a decade.
The pictures show Viscuso, from Roswell New Mexico, dressed in east African tribal attire and her skin coloured from the neck down in what appears to be Otjize, a pigment – made out of butterfat and ochre – used by the Himba community of Namibia to protect themselves from harsh climate.
They were taken when she was appearing in a 2008 MTV reality show where she spent time with an African tribe in Namibia who dressed her in native clothing as part of an initiation ceremony.
Outrage: In one of the most extreme examples of cancel culture yet, a petition was created in a bid to force Netflix to drop the Superman star
In one of the most extreme examples of cancel culture yet, a petition was created in a bid to force Netflix to drop the Superman star.
Now Viscuso has publicly apologised to try to draw a line under the ‘cultural appropriation’ row.
Viscuso told MailOnline on Friday: ‘Firstly, I’d like to say that I’m sorry if this image surfacing has caused any offense. It is a photo from 2008 for a TV show in Namibia.
‘The tribe I was living with painted my skin as part of an initiation ceremony and an acceptance into their culture.
‘Never in a million years did I think that this would be offensive, in fact, I felt honored that they would initiate me.
‘However, with the lessons that we are all learning in today’s climate, it is important that I recognize that this is potentially hurtful. My deepest and most sincere apologies.’
Despite her apology, industry insiders are branding the controversial campaign to remove Cavill from his role as ‘cancel culture gone mad’.
Jeopardy: Cavill plays the character Geralt of Rivia in Netflix series The Witcher, but there have been calls to have him axed
A source said: ‘It feels very extreme to punish Cavill for something his girlfriend did 13 years before they even met.
‘It’s likely Viscuso’s actions were led by a TV director and all very innocent at the time. She would have been following orders.
‘Obviously it hasn’t aged well, but to remove her boyfriend from a huge TV series as a result is cancel culture gone mad.’
A Change.Org petition was set up earlier this week to pressurise Netflix. Although it currently has just 42 signatures the row has received lots of attention among online fan communities.
In love: Cavill made his relationship with Viscuso ‘Instagram official’ in April and has kept his love life rather low-key save the odd picture together
In its bio, as well as detailing Viscuso’s 2008 picture, the campaign’s founder also claims ‘the N word is casually used by her group of friends’, plus details Cavill’s reaction to #OscarsSoWhite in a 2016 interview with Man of the World magazine in which he questioned whether the Oscars would be deemed racist if adding more black academy members resulted in more black nominations.
The final section of the petition bio reads: ‘I feel Henry Cavill should go to school and learn about racism.
‘What toll it takes on people when the people he associates with say the N word out loud or like his GF do a ‘blackface’.
‘His blatant disrespect for the Black community should not be tolerated. Please join hands with me in signing this petition if you feel the same. I request Netflix his removal from the show with immediate effect.’
Not impressed: Furious fans also voiced their outrage on social media as the images came to light 13 years after they were first taken
Furious fans also voiced their outrage on Twitter, penning: ‘It’s still racist no matter what her intentions were. I approve the message that she was trying to send but she’s still insensitive and racist for doing blackface. Stop f***ing defending her just because she’s b***ing Henry Cavill’;
‘girl she fully painted herself brown (minus her face) to do a commercial. stop trying to defend a grown woman’s racism so badly, it’s not going to make Henry pay attention to you.’
‘Yeah you know what I can fully critize his choice in girlfriends after seeing this photo of her in blackface. Not photoshopped. That chick really posed for this and see tried to bury it. Hooray Henry he picked a real winner.
‘I do not think Henry should be replaced but wish that they would address issue. I give Natalie Viscuso benefit of the doubt. But silence is not going to improve this. #thewitcher fans Want #Netflix To Replace #HenryCavill due to GF’s “blackface” Drama’
‘came online for the first time today to see evidence of henry cavill’s girlfriend literally being awful… yikes [sic]’
Lovebirds: Cavill made his relationship with Viscuso public in April, days earlier, they were pictured walking Cavill’s dog Kal in London
Cavill made his relationship with Viscuso public in April, posting a picture of the pair playing chess with the caption: ‘This is me looking quietly confident shortly before my beautiful and brilliant love Natalie, destroys me at chess.’
Days earlier, they were pictured walking Cavill’s dog Kal in London. MailOnline revealed the couple met years previously after ‘crossing paths’ while working in the same industry but romance finally blossomed during lockdown.
Viscuso flew over from LA to stay at Cavill’s Berkshire mansion while he filmed the second series of The Witcher.
A source close to the couple said: ‘Henry first connected with Natalie years ago, and while a romantic spark wasn’t instant between them, they always kept in touch’ an insider explained.
‘Despite strict travel restrictions in place, Natalie flew from the States to the UK so she could be with Henry, and they were able to go unnoticed from prying eyes in Berkshire as they visited local markets Together.
‘As a hugely famous actor, Henry is usually very discreet about his personal life and relationships but he’s smitten with Natalie.’
Decades before her romance with Cavill was revealed to the world, Viscuso earned fame for a very different reason, by welcoming MTV’s cameras into her incredibly expensive and over-the-top sixteenth birthday party where she hosted 1,000 guests.
All in all, Viscuso said that the party cost at least $450,000.
Flashback: Decades before her romance with Cavill was revealed, Viscuso earned fame for a very different reason, appearing in a 2005 episode of the MTV reality show My Super Sweet 16
‘Money really is not an object to me. I’m really spoiled,’ she said in the episode. ‘Sometimes I feel guilty for that, but I deserve everything that I have because I’ve always been just the nice girl, never the rich girl.’
In the episode, which aired during the first season of the show, Natalie lived in a $5 million house in La Jolla, California, and drove her dad’s Bentleys and Ferraris.
The opening clips show her flaunting her designer handbags and dining in expensive restaurants, before she reveals just how different her life was before her father brought her to live with him.
‘I came from the nothingness of Roswell, New Mexico,’ she explains. ‘I lived with my aunt and uncle. Life was difficult. The whole town is only 20 miles long.
‘You can cruise around for about 10 minutes and you’ve basically seen a Dairy Queen and a Walmart. Roswell is just… kind of lame.’
She continued: ‘When I lived in Roswell, there were a lot of people who were basically jealous of me and didn’t like me because I kind of stand out as being prettier than a lot of people.’
But Natalie’s life was transformed when her father, nightclub owner Mike Viscuso, brought her out to California to live with him.
At age 15, she moved to live with her dad and stepmom-to-be, Melissa, in their $5 million house Southern California home, where she had a closet packed with Gucci, Dior, and Louis Vuitton.
MTV later reported that Viscuso had moved to Austin, Texas for her senior year of high school, where she played soccer.
That’s rich: In the episode, Natalie (right) celebrated her birthday with a $450,000 party
The teen also revealed that she had been talking to Aaron Carter, who reached out to her after seeing her on the show.
‘He’s a nice guy,’ she said, but added: ‘Who wants to be a relationship during their senior year?!’
She also received a Audi A4 Turbo from her dad in high school. In 2021, the same car has an MSRP of $46,365.
She said she planned to attend USC — which she did, graduating in 2011 — and wanted to work with her dad in his nightclub business.
Viscuso is currently vice president of television and digital studios at Legendary Entertainment, one of the companies behind Cavill’s Superman movies Man of Steel and Enola Holmes.
She was previously a manager in scripted television for the Weinstein Company, a role she occupied for just over 12 months having joined from Tomorrow ITV Studios in Beverly Hills.
Viscuso has also worked for The Gersh Agency, a talent and literary specialist.
Cute couple: The couple have kept their romance rather low-key but Natalie previously shared a cute snap with her other half as she wished him a happy birthday