Henry Cavill – A Man of Many Substances
As soon as he donned the iconic suit of Superman in Man of Steel (2013), British actor Henry Cavill wasn’t a bird, wasn’t a plane, he was a superstar. Up until then, he’d enjoyed only moderate success, having appeared in relatively low-profile supporting roles in a handful of movies, including The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) and Stardust (2007), while also having a recurring role in The Tudors, a TV historical drama. With one bound, though, his take on Krypton’s favourite son saw his standing go stratospheric, while many subsequent roles – most notably his starring role in The Witcher, the smash hit Netflix series – only added to his legend.
As of October last year, it looked all but certain that he was about to resume his Superman duties, when he unexpectedly cameoed at the end of Black Adam (2022), his first appearance in the famous red and blue costume for five years. Although at the time, Warner Brothers, the company behind the DC movie slate appeared to confirm he was to return in all-new adventures for the hero, all such hopes were dashed in December. This followed the news that new creative heads would be steering the DC superheroes stable of future cinematic and TV appearances. As Cavill had just quit his $1 million-an-episode role in The Witcher, apparently in favour of his Superman duties, this must have been something of a blow.
Speaking just after it was confirmed DC was looking to recast the caped comic-strip hero, Cavill said: “This news isn’t the easiest, but that’s life. The changing of the guard is something that happens and I respect that.”
There is, however, way more to Cavill than just either wowing audiences in The Witcher or being Clark Kent’s alter ego. Here are eight unknown facts you probably never knew about Mr C.
1. The Real Deal
He’s unusually honest about what drives his career, saying: “I’m slightly wary of saying this, because it can be frowned upon, certainly by members of my community and people outside my community. Money is fantastic and that’s something which I deem – and again, it is frowned upon – very important. I’m spending it on nice stuff. Whether that be lavish holidays for me and my friends or just seeing something and going in a shop and saying, ‘Yeah, I want that for the house, I’m buying it.’”
2. An Animal Lover
More altruistically, however, Cavill serves as the spokesperson for the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey, as well as managing Cavill Conservation, a personal project dedicated to preventing the extinction of endangered species.
3. The First Brit Superman
The typical take on Superman as an all-American alien took something of a knock when Cavill landed the role in 2013. Despite having an accent that sounds straight out of the Midwest, Cavill was actually born in Jersey, the largest of the UK’s Channel Islands. Sharing his secret of sounding genuinely US-born, he said: “Doing an American accent is about working the muscles in your neck and your lips.”
4. Hollywood’s Unluckiest Lad
Before securing his big break, Cavill was known as the Unluckiest Man in Hollywood, largely on account of his habit of narrowly missing out on high-profile roles. Most famously, he was pipped to being James Bond by Daniel Craig and to make matters worse, he also failed to secure the starring role in an earlier take on Superman, with that particular honour falling to Brandon Routh. Most egregiously, he was overlooked for the role of Edward Cullen in the series of movies based on Twilight, Stephanie Meyer’s Young Adult vampire series. This was despite the fact that the author actually had him in mind for the part while she was writing the books. Ultimately though, he was deemed to look too old, with Robert Pattinson actually taking on the starring mantle. Adding insult to injury, Pattison is three years older than Cavill.
5. A man of many languages
In addition to English, Cavill can reputedly speak French, Spanish, Italian, German and Czech. Asked why he was so linguistically proficient, he said: “In school, I had an interest in languages, ancient history and Egyptology in particular. There was a historical fiction writer named Christian Jacq who wrote a series of books, sort of Egyptology-based, and I really enjoyed them.”
6. Grease was the word
When he first began acting in high school, he played the character of Sonny in the beloved musical Grease. He’s featured in the centre of the picture, wearing a white jacket, and is easily recognisable by his jet-black hair.
Despite now being renowned for his Adonislike looks and stature, Cavill wasn’t always the herculean figure he is today. Due to his puppy fat, while attending boarding school, he was rather derogatorily known as “Fat Cavill”. Recalling those days, he says: “I bawled on the phone to my mom four times a day and I became an easy target for bullies.” He put his fat days behind him after winning his role in The Count of Monte Cristo, promptly losing 21 pounds and becoming more – or, rather, less – the man we know today.
8. Man of the future
Not content with a life in front of the camera, Cavill also has ambitions to get behind the lens. To that end, he formed Promethean Productions in 2014 in collaboration with his brother Charlie and British producer Rex Glensy. At one time, Stratton, an action-packed thriller based on the Duncan Falconer book series, was set to be the company’s cinematic debut offering. Unfortunately, this fell through, with both Cavill and Promethean ultimately exiting the project. Despite that disappointment and his enforced bowing out of any future Superman project, things are far from downbeat for Mr Cavill. His next outing is tipped to be Warhammer 40,000, an Amazon series based on the miniature wargame of the same title. While he may be Krypton’s Last Son no more, it seems certain that we haven’t seen the end of his on-screen heroics.
(Text: Joseff Musa)