Henry Cavill Interview – ‘Man of Steel’ – “My parents always raised me and my brother to be very proud of who we are. Not to the point of arrogance but to the point of just pride and confidence.”
Starring as Superman in Man of Steel, the handsome actor from The Channel Islands, Henry Cavill, 29, will star in this highly anticipated movie opposite Amy Adams, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane. In Los Angeles to promote the movie, he’s dressed conservatively in a pair of navy trousers and a dark grey shirt which brings out his blue eyes. Softly spoken, he measures his words carefully and seems a little out of his comfort zone doing interviews, although he’s friendly and charming.
As far as his personal life, which he keeps close to his (impressive) chest, he was engaged to English show-jumper Ellen Whitaker since May 2011 and they broke up last August. He has since been romantically linked to American actress and mixed martial artist, Gina Carano, who will next appear in the upcoming Fast and the Furious 6.
Do you feel super?
Do I feel super? Very funny (laughs). Very funny, I haven’t heard that one before.
According to your fellow co-stars, you’re very honest and don’t have a cynical bone in your body, is it true?
I’m certainly honest, not necessarily to a fault but honest when honesty is needed. Am I not cynical? I think everyone has a bit of cynicism in them but not to the point where it dominates my personality.
How much pressure did you feel going into this?
There’s obviously the opportunity to feel a lot of pressure. I try and avoid that because the one lesson I’ve learned is that I’ve done all the work now, already. And even before stepping into that work, focus on success because failure will take care of itself. There’s no need to do anything but just work hard and strive towards victory as opposed to anything else. And if I let pressure play a factor, then it would be a detriment to my work and my personality.
How badly did you want the role? Did you fight to get it?
How badly did I want the role? I wanted it really badly. I didn’t get it previously, which is fine. But when it came around again, it was kind of just the right time and I knew it was a very, very talented director attached and a very talented studio and production team attached as well. And so I thought, I want to be a part of this because it’s a great opportunity to tell a great story and it won’t be mis-told. And so yes, I wanted it very badly. Did I have to fight for it? I mean, you fight for every job you audition for. Normally the fight happens in places you don’t know it’s happening. Like, you will go in, audition, you’ll do your screen test, and then people will probably be fighting on your behalf, sort of who want either you or someone else to be in the role. But personally, you know, I just did my best to try and get the role and something right happened.
What’s your idea of Superman?
There’s an honesty to Superman and straightforwardness. And the want and will to do the right thing. And that’s all I tried to portray and project in my performance. I didn’t try to do anything too clever or too different. I just thought, go to the source material, read some stuff in time for the screen test and just provide an honest straightforward, humble character. I didn’t think there was any other point in trying to be too sneaky with it, because it doesn’t make sense.
So you tried to get the role they were making six or seven years ago?
Yeah, I screen tested for that role, yeah. When (director) McG was attached and there was a different script, I was strongly in the running. Whether I had got the role or not, I don’t know. There’s no official contract signed but for whatever reason McG stopped doing it. And then a new director came on and he had a new script and new ideas and a new vision for the movie, and I didn’t fit into that vision. And so this was my second chance to play a great character and tell a great story.
What did you do when you found out you got the part?
It’s kind of surreal when you get a part like that. You don’t really believe it. Yes, someone can say, ‘You’ve got the part!’ And you sit there thinking, ‘Ok, great, I’ve got the part.’ But the scope of what it is to get a role of this magnitude with such a great team attached, and again, the opportunity to tell such a wonderful story is difficult to kind of realize. Not to say I didn’t get very excited. I ran up and down the stairs of my house sort of roaring and shouting for a good fifteen minutes, while I was trying to call my family, because no one was picking up their phone.
Do you remember when you first watched a Superman movie?
I don’t because I wasn’t born when the first one came out. So I must have been very young I think. There was no conscious memory of saying, “Oh right, this is my first experience of watching a Superman movie.” So no, I don’t remember. Sorry.
How did you prepare for it?
My goodness, a lot of preparation went into this role. I chose which material I wanted to draw from and that was basically the source material. It was comic books. I didn’t want to draw from TV shows or movies previously done because those are other filmmaker’s interpretations of this character. So I went straight to the source material, brought up as much as I could, and just read through it. And there are different angles and ways of portraying this incredible character. And I wanted to find one particular base line which I could draw from because our interpretation is also different from everyone else’s. So I wanted to find one particular base line to draw from and then work off that base line as far as the character goes.
Physically a lot of hard work into it. There was for about a month and a half, two months of pre training my trainer set me up for. He gave me a list of stuff to do. And that was just getting me used to that kind of work. And then the hard work would start when I actually got together with him and we worked in a gym together. The first month, two months, was very, very difficult. He really put me through the ringer, really pushed me incredibly hard. And then we went into the bulking up kind of phase. But physically it was hours in the gym, every day of the week.
How many hours a day?
It was about two hours a day. And two hours of really crushing yourself. And yeah, pushing way beyond limits, which I certainly never perceived I had. And Mark, the trainer, helped me push past those and realize that my limits were actually far further than I initially realized.
And so yeah, would say the source material stuff and the physicality were the two things that I really, really focused on. And that took a long time and a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication.
There was a special meal plan set up and we were in different places all the time. And initially it was just trying to get it right. Because we didn’t know how many calories I should be taking in to achieve what we wanted to achieve. And then once we got that right, the calories went up or down depending on what we were doing training wise. At one stage, I was on 5,000 calories a day which people say is a lot but actually is really fantastic and pretty dam easy (laughs).
I mean, it’s not junk food. But after training I think we managed to get the post training shake up to 1,500 calories at one stage. So that’s you know, 2/3 of some people’s diet in one shake. And I loved it. I loved the eating side of it.
Have you always been athletic?
I’ve always enjoyed physical activity, but I haven’t necessarily been athletic. I was definitely chubbier in school and haven’t always been in great shape. I think Immortals helped me sort of get in good shape for the first time and then I had to get out of shape for the following role, Cold Light of Day. And then back into this. I think from now on I’m probably going to be more athletic in the true sense of the word but in the past, to answer your question, always physical but not necessarily athletic.
Following other British actors Andrew Garfield and Christian Bale playing American super heroes – did that worry you? They were criticised for that. Did you follow it?
Do I follow it? I mean, sure, every now and then I read stuff and see what people are saying. But I personally don’t think it matters. (Laughs). I mean, it’s an example I’ve used a lot but it still rings true. Superman is an invulnerable alien from Krypton. He’s not American. But the point being is that we’re all actors and we’re playing characters. And yes, I completely understand the concept and the feeling behind people saying an American should play this American icon. But hopefully we’ll put all fears to rest when people see the movie and they will believe.
How did you feel in the costume?
How did I feel with that costume? Well, after everything that went into it actually I loved wearing it every day. You put it on and sure there were sometimes where it got tricky or uncomfortable or too hot or too cold or whatever the case may be. But I loved it. I mean I got to be Superman every day. And it’s a really cool, modern version of Superman although sometimes it was tricky.
What do you (laughs) I’ll leave that to your imagination
Kids love to imagine they’re Superman. Who did you like to pretend to be?
Someone with special powers? I mean, I’m sure as a kid I had fantasies, but have I ever wished I was someone else? My parents always raised me and my brother to be very proud of who we are. Not to the point of arrogance but to the point of just pride and confidence. Even when I had a tricky time in school, you know, because kids are mean and that’s just the way it is, I never wished I was anyone but me. I just, thought, ‘Well this is pretty tough for the time being and let’s get through this.’ But yeah, the way that my parents raised me was always be proud of who I am and not to try and wish away.
What was the trouble? You being chubby?
Me being chubby? I mean, I think it doesn’t matter what I was. It could have been anything. It’s just kids learning about the way they interact with other kids. And it’s just learning life lessons and then flexing their emotional, intellectual, physical muscles, whatever it may be. Yeah, I mean, I could have been anything. And if I was chubby, it just happened to be the case. But if I stopped being chubby then there would be something else. It’s just the way kids are.
Have any of those kids tried to get in touch with you now?
No. We weren’t friends
Oh there’s no sort of apologizing or anything. No, I mean there’s no need to apologize. You weren’t friends after school so why would they be in touch with me now at this
Because you’re Superman?
I think these people sort of for one, they’re adults now. And they’re very different people from who they were and there’s no finger pointing. I have no hard feelings towards anyone. And if I bumped into the street, I’d go have a pint, sure.
What advice would you give kids going through that experience?
Just stay strong and be proud of who you are. And people can be as mean as they want. But as long as you believe in yourself, that’s all that really matters.
Are you aware of the Superman curse?
Are you superstitious?
No, I don’t think so. No. I’m not superstitious. I mean I won’t walk under a ladder just for sense’s sake. And if a black cat crossed my path, it’s not going to be a problem for me. But as far as the curse of Superman goes, I mean, Tom Welling, Brandon Ruth and Dean Cain, they all seem fine. So I’m not worried about anything.
What are some of your other interests?
Well I love computer games. I love watching rugby, hanging out with my friends, the most important thing are friends and family. I like reading. Reading I really do enjoy. It’s nice to escape into a good book every now and then or a good series of books. Yeah, I would say those are my interests. I can’t think of any others at the moment.
Do you read books or iPad?
Both. It’s tough to beat a book, because a book is just great. There’s something about holding a book and it being there and physical and real and you’re looking at a page as opposed to a light. But the iPad is really handy. I mean traveling with any kind of reader like that, whatever it is, any kind of tablet, it’s just easier as opposed to carrying 5 scripts and a book or a chunky book like that which you then have to carry as well as your hand luggage and your laptop or whatever the case may be. Tablets do become very convenient. But I do like a good book.