Stardom, as Henry Cavill knows, rarely happens in a single bound. Even when you’re the new Superman.
So while most people may not have heard of the 27-year-old British actor before he landed the lead in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, he’s hardly come out of nowhere.
In fact, he’s spent the past several years nearly getting — but ultimately been rejected for — such roles as James Bond (which Daniel Craig got), Batman (which went to Christian Bale) and, ironically enough, Superman (for 2006’s Superman Returns).
“You always feel a frustration when you don’t get a job, especially when you have no money, which was often the case in my career,” he says. “You try your best, everyone likes what you did, but you don’t get cast. It’s a very frustrating process to go through … I paid my dues, I’ve been through my baptism and I’ve been fortunate enough to be provided with the opportunities — and to be at the right time in my life — to play roles like this.”
Which explains why, when asked if he’s daunted by the prospect of stepping into the big red boots, he sounds anything but.
“(It’s) not scary. It’s fantastic — enjoyable. It’s an opportunity. It’s a chance to show what I’ve got, to enhance what I’ve got and entertain everyone and tell a good story.”
About just what that story involves, Cavill is understandably guarded — other than to declare, as he did at a panel at this past weekend’s Comic-Con, that the script is one of the best he’s ever read. Man of Steel, which also stars Russell Crowe, Amy Adams and Kevin Costner, begins shooting in August in Vancouver and Chicago and is scheduled for a June 2013 release.
Understandably, almost as thrilled as Cavill are the producers of Immortals, who hired him before he won the iconic role. The Greek mythological epic, which opens in November, casts Cavill as Theseus, a heroic stonemason chosen by the gods to battle Mickey Rourke’s tyrannical Hyperion.
“I look like the moron that turned into genius,” says Immortals director Tarsem Singh, who fought to cast Cavill. “They asked me about 10 times, ‘Are you sure Henry?’ And I said, ‘Not only sure, but only Henry.’ And just stuck by him. Now everybody says what a brilliant decision it was.”
As producer Mark Canton puts it, “It’s easier to say Superman than the guy who did The Tudors.”
“When we got Henry it was like “Henry who?’ ” remembers producer Gianni Nunnari. “Then when we were shooting it became ‘Henry Cavill.’ And now everyone says, ‘I need a movie with Henry Cavill.’ That’s always the process.”
Both Immortals and Man of Steel are highly physical roles, of course. Preparing for the former, Cavill recalls it “was the first time I’d ever worked that hard to get myself in shape.”
And while he slacked off following Immortals for another film, he says he’s now spent months putting muscle back on.
“I’m now in that kind of shape again, 25 pounds heavier, because it’s been a different kind of training it. I got it back and I plan on not losing it. I don’t care what they offer me.”
That said, Singh believes Cavill’s looks aren’t what make him the ideal hero — either human or Kryptonian.
“I think he has a lot more vulnerability. I said to him, ‘You’re Clark Kent, I don’t know if you’re Superman, but you’re Clark Kent.’ It’s so right. He has such a soft side to him.”