For a man who’s used to getting changed in a phone box, swapping clothes in the offices of a private air charter company must seem positively luxurious. Mind you, Henry Cavill needs the space.
Only weeks after he wrapped up filming the latest Superman film, with shoulders you could drive across and biceps like prize hams, he’s still sporting a superhero physique that can make us mortals feel simultaneously fat and skinny.
He’s also just wrapped MODE’s jet-setting cover shoot. His look, as he swaggers around an airfield just outside Exeter (giving rise to “Is it bird? Is it a plane? Yes, it’s a plane” gags), has a dash of Sixties styling, which is a nod to the next Cavill film to hit cinemas: Guy Ritchie’s take on the classic TV show The Man From UNCLE. Cavill, it transpires, loves clothes, loves dressing up, but thanks to those muscles, his passion has problems.
“It’s bloody expensive,” he says, now dressed down in a checked shirt and jeans, and digesting a sausage butty. “I’m buying new clothes every year. I’m bigger than I was in the first Superman film (Man Of Steel), so I don’t fit the same clothes I did then. And when I was doing The Man From UNCLE, I was smaller, so it’s a constant shift in body size and shape. It’s fun, but you’ve got to have a big closet, so you can leave stuff in there and go, ‘Oh, back to that size again – I can wear that sweater'.
“But I never throw stuff away because I’ve changed size. Things I’ve loved, I’ve worn so much I’ve had to get rid. I’ll love something so much, I still see it the way it initially was, and then a friend will say, ‘Why do you dress like a homeless person? Look at your f*cking clothes, mate.’ And then you realise that the T-shirt you adore has four holes in it. And that pair of jeans no longer has a fashionable rip, it’s just your knee hanging out."
Cavill’s character in The Man From UNCLE is Napoleon Solo. Or, ‘the one played by Robert Vaughn’ for those of us who spent childhood Saturday teatimes being entertained by TV repeats – always featuring men in roll necks – from this strange, colourful decade our parents banged on about. Solo, a postwar art thief-turned-Cold War agent, is the dapper playboy – who Cavill describes as “an arsehole with a heart” – working alongside Soviet spying machine Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer in the film, David McCallum when it was on TV). It’s Solo’s look that inspired the shoot. Cavill likes this.
“I really do,” he says. “I was looking at some photos of myself in The Man From UNCLE, and I thought, ‘Those are really great.' I love wearing classic suits. And the great thing about the Sixties is that they had a little bit of flair. You can go big flair, or just a little bit, and I like a little bit. I’m more of a classic guy; I’m not outspoken, so it’s nice to wear something that looks so sharp and has a bit of colour.”
And your feelings on polo necks?
“Polo necks are great! There’s this attitude towards polo necks, where if you wear one, then all of a sudden you’re a dickhead. And it’s not fair, because polo necks look really good. It’s just a matter of people opening their minds to it. We can wear all sorts of stuff these days, so why not a polo neck?"
Why not, indeed? And it wasn’t just the polo necks Cavill enjoyed about the film; he claims Ritchie is “the best person I’ve ever worked with. He makes great movies, but doesn’t sacrifice any fun or enjoyment in the making – if I could do every movie in the future with him, I would happily do it.” This, of course, won’t be the case. For example, Ritchie isn’t directing Stratton – the film for which Cavill’s currently preparing. Based on the John Stratton novels by ex-SBS commando Duncan Falconer, it’s something of a passion project for Cavill, whose brother Nik is in the Royal Marines, and he’s co-producing the film with another brother, Charlie.
“I’ve always been a huge supporter of the Royal Marines, and therefore the SBS is largely – not entirely – drawn from the Marines,” he says. “It’s my chance to be the Marine I never got to be, and draw some attention to them, hopefully raise some money. I’m an ambassador for the Royal Marines trust fund. And I like the guns and stuff. I do. It’s fun.”
Nor did Ritchie get his hands on the biggest film of Cavill’s career to date, the currently titled Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice. Next summer’s clashing of the capes – and cause of Cavill’s enormous wardrobe requirements – sees his Man Of Steel take on Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight. A major salvo from DC in the war with Marvel for comicfilmiverse supremacy, it’s a subject of anticipation and hope. What can he tell us about it?
“I can’t tell you anything.”
Not even from a fashion perspective? Surely there was some costume envy. With all that black, Batman has a much more chic look. And external underpants have never caught on.
“I’m incredibly loyal to my character,” says Cavill, with genuine conviction. “I love him. I’m protective of him. Superman’s the dude. He’s an absolute ledge. I’d never say, ‘I’d prefer to be that superhero.’ I’m Superman.”