The Courier-Mail

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

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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

 ?? The Man
From U.N.C.L.E. ?? Henry Cav­ill
avoids im­i­ta­tion as he steps into
big shoes; (above) with
Ar­mie Ham­mer in
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Henry Cav­ill avoids im­i­ta­tion as he steps into big shoes; (above) with Ar­mie Ham­mer in
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