MAN FOR ALL SEASONS
Whether he’s paying Superman, a super spy or period drama, Henry Cavill is determined not to be typecast, as Tiffany Bakker discovers
Henry Cavill knows all about rejection. He is, after all, the guy who almost played James Bond, until age worked against him.
And he’s the actor who could have played Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter series. And the actor who very nearly played the vampire Edward in Twilight (losing both Potter and Twilight to “bloody Robert Pattinson”).
Then, when the actor finally did get his moment after nabbing the role of Superman in 2013’s Man Of Steel (the highest grossing Superman movie), he was set upon by online haters, furious at the fact that he — a Brit — was playing an iconic American character.
Sick of the vitriol, Cavill had to curb the urge to defend himself online.
“If I were to go on all of the internet forums and write something, that would be applying logic to an internet forum,” Cavill says with a grin.
“It’s funny when you read these things — the bitchy comment, then the bulls--- fact, the bulls--- fact continues ... Then one person writes a sensible comment and it gets completely brushed over. They don’t want logic; they just want someone to rant at. That’s how the internet works, isn’t it?”
Now he’s taking on another role that had its genesis elsewhere — as dashing American spy (“So not the dashing British spy, James Bond,” he clarifies) Napoleon Solo in Guy Ritchie’s movie reimagining of the 1960s series The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Cavill says he approached Solo in the same way he approached Superman — by ignoring what came before.
“I try not to draw from other things because you end up imitating,” he says, kicking back at The Grand Plaza Hotel in Rome, the city where U.N. C. L.E. was mainly filmed.
“And imitation, while it’s the greatest form of flattery, is not what I plan on doing. I plan on doing my own thing.”
Ironically, this particular role was originallyg y slated for Tom Cruise, who pulled out due to a scheduling conflict on Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation.
“Yes, it is bemusing,” says Cavill of his complicated work history. “I try not to think about who came before me, because that’s going to affect your performance.”
Still, he gets a little irritable if U.N.C.L.E. is mentioned in the same breath as 007. “Obviously there’s a big hang-up about Bond because everyone thinks every spy has to be like Bond,” Cavill says.y “I think it’s important wew bring some others to th the foreground — James B Bond doesn’t have to be the only spy on screen.”
Cavill says he signed on to do U.N. C. L. E. primarily for the chance to work with Ritchie.
“Guy was the draw, for sure. He’s got a particular style — he’s electric and very charismatic. He makes all actors better. You want to keep working with him.”
There was another, more strategic reason for taking on the role: he wanted mainstream movie audiences to see him as a character other than Superman.
“I definitely chose this role to be contrary to Superman,” Cavill says. “When you have a movie that size come out, it’s human inclination to categorise, to say, ‘I know who that person is’, but you have to fight against that.
“James Bond doesn’t have to be the only spy on screen” HENRY CAVILL ON MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.
“I don’t want to be crazy — I don’t all of a sudden want to play a meth-head transsexual — but I do want to show the audience I have range. The first time people saw me on a world scale was Superman. That’s not necessarily what I do. I’m a period guy, to be honest — that’s my jive.”
Indeed, Cavill got his big break playing an oft-naked duke in TV series The Tudors and his early career was made up of roles on very British crime series
such as Midsomer Murders and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.
Given this pedigree, Cavill finds it amusing most people “still think I’m American”.
“Which is funny, really, because I have such trouble with the accent ...”
He’s not joking. Cavill recalls how on the U.N. C. L. E. set, Ritchie pulled him aside and told him he needed to fix it up, because he sounded like “a bad Clark Gable”.
“I was hopeless. Guy said, ‘You just sound like an English guy who can’t do an American accent’. I sounded like an American who was trying to get rid of his accent.”
When Hit meets him, Cavill is still in the midst of filming Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice opposite Ben Affleck (“He’s getting the haters now,” Cavill laughs).
He works hard to ignore the pressure heaped on him merely by stepping into those very famous red boots.
“I’m aware of it, but if you start focusing on it then you’re going to screw yourself up. It’s like saying: What if I fail? What if I fail? What if I fail?
“Then you will fail, you will f--- it up.”
When it comes to work, Cavill has a very singular focus. He even admits his “obsession” with work means his private life has often suffered.
“I would like to find a wife and have kids,” says the 32-yearold. “I haven’t found the right girl yet, but I’m still looking.”
Despite all the near misses and intense superhero scrutiny, he’s pleased with his career.
“I couldn’t be happier right now, where I am,” Cavill says. “Things are fantastic. I’ve got so much opportunity. Life’s good and I can’t complain.” SEE THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. OPENS TODAY