Is it true your director Tarsem Singh wanted photographic evidence of your eight-pack abs while you were training for this film?
He definitely wanted photographic evidence. So, my trainer put together some fight choreography and we sent it off to him with the odd photo here and there. He was happy.
Is Greek mythology your bag?
I do remember a book I had in my room, as a boy, of the various Greek mythology stories, the short abbreviated versions. I always liked it.
You’ve said this was your most exhausting job ever. Why?
You’re working 14 or 15-hour days, you’re on a diet and you’re just exhausted. You arrive early in the morning when it’s dark. You get changed, you go through the whole make-up process – from this colour to a deep brown. You spend all day on a sound stage, you come out and it’s dark again. Then you can’t sleep because you’re too wound up and when you do fall asleep, it’s time to get up again. That takes its toll.
I got a couple of stones wedged in my feet but nothing bad. Just bumps and bruises from people with axes and getting clipped by swords – fake ones, obviously.
Mickey Rourke is your nemesis in the film. Were you intimidated by him?
Not at all. I’m from a family of six men and my four brothers are pretty intimidating when they want to be. Plus, my character Theseus is intimidated by nothing, so you’re just in that frame of mind.
This isn’t the first time you’ve drawn attention to your rather fit body. Do you like getting in shape for a job?
Getting in shape and getting paid to do it? Are you kidding me? It’s fantastic. It’s very hard work. There’s nothing easy about it but it’s better being paid for it. This started about six months before we even started filming.
And it must have helped you get ready to be Superman too?
It really helped in a sense that I was prepared to push myself to even further physical limits. The problem was, I had to get out of shape for the job in between, The Cold Light Of Day. My brief for that was: ‘Look like a regular person, you look too fit. No push-ups, no sit-ups, just eat pizza and burgers and drink beer.’ Initially, that’s a fantastic thing but then as everything starts to soften up, you’re going: ‘Oh no, all that hard work I just wasted.’
You were meant to play Superman in 2004, then that film fell apart. Do you feel you were born to play him?
It’s all part and parcel of the acting world. You get a lot of disappointments and that’s the nature of it. It’s enormously gratifying to eventually get the job but also I now have far more experience under my belt and there’s a fantastic script, a fantastic director in Zack Snyder, and Chris Nolan as writer and producer. I consider myself really fortunate.
You really do look the part.
Well, thank you very much.
You also lost the role of Edward in the 'Twilight' series after writer/creator Stephenie Meyer called you her ‘perfect Edward’. Pretty unlucky.
But there are people who are far unluckier than me. And those are a few rejections among many.
You lost another role to Robert Pattinson – Cedric Diggory in 'Harry Potter'. Have you had words with him?
I’ve never even met the chap. I don’t generally hang around in actors’ circles – I go to the pub with my mates.
You went to posh boarding school Stowe. Is that where you started acting?
Officially, I started acting at St Michael’s Prep School in Jersey but I started taking it a little more seriously when I went to Stowe. And I really loved it. Then the casting group for the 2002 film The Count Of Monte Cristo came round. They went to all the English boarding schools because the role was the son of a count. I happened to look right, had a bit of acting experience and the director liked me, so it was wham bam, thank you ma’am.
Was Stowe super strict?
Boarding school was as rough as it can be but it was a wonderful, fantastic education, which really prepped me for my acting career. You’ve got to have a lot of self-discipline and not get down on yourself. School gave me that preparation of being away from home and having no immediate support base.
You’re in LA for a while filming 'Man Of Steel'. What stuff from home must you have?
I don’t fear being in a strange place, so I don’t necessarily need my familiar things. I try to immerse myself in the culture wherever I am, learn the language, enjoy the newness of it. So I don’t really have anything like that with me. I love Bovril but, don’t get me wrong, I don’t need to bring it with me to LA.