By Meher Tatna
With his charismatic presence and leading man looks, it was just a matter of time before Henry Cavill became a movie star.
Though he was passed over for James Bond as he was too young, and then for Edward Cullen in The Twilight Saga movies because he was too old, the British hunk eventually landed Superman in 2013’s Man Of Steel, and was on his way. The 32-year-old’s latest film is The Man From U.N.C.L.E., based on the 60s television show. Cavill plays CIA agent Napoleon Solo, complete with American accent and vintage wardrobe.
The Guy Ritchie-directed spy actioner, which also stars Armie Hammer as his KGB counterpart, Illya Kuryakin, and Alicia Vikander as the female lead, sees the trio joining forces to battle a mysterious criminal organisation and save the world from nuclear disaster.
The movie, which opens here on Sept 3, is a fun romp made in beautiful locations and showcases everything that made that decade cool — the music, art and fashion.
We meet at the Claridge’s hotel in London to talk about the film and when he is asked to compare Napoleon Solo to Superman, Cavill laughs.
He says to M: “One thing which Guy said during shooting was, ‘Wow, Henry, I think people are going to actually like you in this movie’.
“There’s something about Superman, he is so perfect and so nice and so earnest that people don’t necessarily like that, and they want to see some flaws and they want to see some personal failure and they want to see some mischievousness or something which is a bit more like them.”
He adds: “Napoleon would be, like, where is my next suit and can I afford truffles next time and what operation am I going on and is it life-threatening?
“He does what he has to and enjoys every step of the way.”
Not that Cavill is complaining about being best known as the Man of Steel.
“Superman is like playing an icon. Because of playing him, people all of a sudden listen to me and all of a sudden, I have indie scripts coming to the door because they want to have their movie financed by having Superman in it. It definitely has changed my life and it’s wonderful to still be part of that franchise.”
Cavill is now part of another big-budget movie.
He had never heard of the original The Man From U.N.C.L.E. before getting the script and he still hasn’t watched the TV version because he wanted to create his own version of Napoleon Solo.
He bonded with his co-stars and Ritchie early on when they all got together to rehearse.
“We went down to Guy’s house in the country and there was a lot of firewood-chopping going on, with glasses of wine as well, which probably isn’t a good idea — to get drunk and chop firewood at the same time.”
He especially enjoyed wearing the period costumes and surprisingly confesses to a love for fashion — especially “a good three-piece suit”.
The new face of Dunhill Black fragrance says: “I recently discovered that Dunhill makes amazing suits.
“I wore one recently to the National Fundraising Awards and it is hands down one of the best things I have ever worn. I could probably live in it and sleep in it and so that is probably the one thing in my wardrobe that I could never do without…
“If I could wear a three-piece suit every day without looking like an idiot because I had no reason to, then I would, one hundred per cent.”