Man of Steel returns
THE first time Henry Cavill stepped into his Superman suit and looked in the mirror, something odd happened. “I didn’t recognise myself at all,” he says. “I just saw the character. I saw Superman.” Cavill is the latest in a long line of actors – Christopher Reeve and George Reeves, most famously, and Brandon Routh ( not so much) – to don the iconic red cape in Man of Steel, the new cinematic incarnation of Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster’s beloved comic- book superhero. For Cavill, it was not a moment to take lightly. “The suit is a very special thing to put on. It’s not just putting on a costume, it’s become something more than that, certainly for me, and putting it on every morning was an experience. It was incredibly special and it’s something that will stay with me.”
Still, even he admits there were a few drawbacks.
“It fitted like an alien body glove – that thing is tight,” the Brit says, smiling.
“Let’s just say it made going to the toilet interesting. I could’ve done with a fly.”
Directed by Zack Snyder ( the man behind the fairly decent Watchmen and the fairly ordinary Sucker Punch), Man Of Steel stays close to Superman’s roots.
As expected, the special effects are dazzling, but the film very much concentrates on the human element of the story, namely young Clark Kent/ Kal- El’s stark feelings of loneliness and displacement.
Snyder does a fine job in not allowing the bells and whistles to overshadow the emotional narrative.
Here, Clark Kent is not portrayed as a bumbling Daily Planet reporter, but rather an aimless drifter, jumping from one ill- advised job to the next, until fate intervenes and he crosses paths with Lois Lane, played this time around by four- time Academy Award- nominee Amy Adams.
“I felt very comfortable and relaxed with Henry,” says Adams, who also praises Cavill’s work ethic.
“He kept me laughing, and he’s very handsome, too, which doesn’t hurt. I giggled like a schoolgirl the first time I met him and I kept on giggling right through shooting. It can be a little distracting.”
It’s kind of apt that an outsider would play such an iconic American character.
“He’s a vulnerable alien from Krypton,” says Cavill. “So you can see the similarities right there.”
But in the flesh, 30- year- old Cavill still has something quintessentially all- American about him.
With his classic old- Hollywood looks, chiselled jaw and impressive physique, he resembles something of a Tom Brady- esque quarterback or prom king.
In reality, Cavill’s own school days were far from glorious.
He attended a stuffy boarding school in Buckinghamshire, suffering from acute homesickness and bullying at the hands of classmates, who, ungraciously, had anointed him “Fatty Cavill”. ( One can only wonder what they’re saying now.)
Cavill, who grew up with four brothers, was miserable and took refuge in theatre after a teacher suggested he give it a go.
“I dealt with my homesickness by doing drama and teachers responded well to it, so I did another one and I just loved it.
“I thought, ‘ I actually really like this, maybe this is something that I’m good at. Maybe I should keep on doing this’.”
Success, though, was a while coming. He bypassed university to give acting a serious crack and ended up doing what every British actor worth his salt does – nab a small part on Midsomer Murders.
Other bit parts followed until he found himself attended a casting call looking for a “posh English boarding school boy” for a role in The Count of Monte Cristo – not surprisingly, he got it.
But it’s the roles Cavill missed out on that defi ned his early career. Famously, he lost out on two major roles that ultimately went to fellow Brit Robert Pattinson, that of Edward Cullen in the Twilight series ( Stephanie Meyer initially wrote the character with Cavill in mind) and Cedric Diggory in the fourth Harry Potter instalment, Goblet of Fire.
Disheartened, Cavill decided that maybe an acting career just wasn’t on the cards, until, at 23, he was asked to audition for the role of James Bond. Ultimately, the role went to Daniel Craig, even though director Martin Campbell pushed for Cavill.
Still, the 007 near- miss gave Cavill the boost he needed.
“Just going through that process was a turning point for me. It felt like, ‘ Well, if I can even be remotely considered for James Bond, there must be something there’.”
MAN OF STEEL opens at Village Cinemas on Wednesday, June 27.