Is it true you were nearly in Twilight, you were nearly Batman, and you were nearly James Bond?
With Twilight, I had heard about it before it all happened, but I was never sent the script. Apparently, I heard that [author] Stephenie Meyer wanted me initially, but by the time it actually went into production, I was too old. Batman, I think I was spoken about it a room, but I never auditioned for it. Bond came very close, though.
When did it fully dawn on you that you were Superman? When you put the suit on?
Over a period of months, we were trying out different things and I was training the entire time, so it wasn’t right up until the very end where I put on the suit, the finished piece — on my first day — and that was an incredible feeling. There is nothing quite like it because it stops being a training camp and a dream, and you see yourself standing there in the suit, with the cape, with the ‘S’ shield on your chest, and you are looking at yourself going, “Wow! I’m Superman!” There’s no other feeling like it. It’s unique and something I will carry with me till the day I die.
How do you feel about the inevitable action figure?
That is going to be pretty cool, actually, yeah.
Do you pay any attention to Internet forums? They aren’t nice places.
We all know what Internet forums are like — there are different ones in different places that have different strengths of opinions — but it’s entertaining. When I read it, I take everything with a pinch of salt. It’s really nice to see people supporting me and getting behind me. Every now and then I would have a friend go, “Dude, you’re on the Internet! Look at this! You need to do some weights!” So I would check it out.
You went from Immortals to playing Superman, so it can’t have been hard getting in shape.
When I finished Immortals, I then went on to do Cold Light of Day, and the director specifically said, “I want you to drink beer, eat burgers, and not do a single press-up or a sit-up. I want you to look like—”
Yeah, initially I was like, “This is awesome!” Coming off a job where I was five per cent body fat and not allowed to eat anything, it was fantastic. But then as I started to fall away and feel sick every day and just heavy and weighty, it wasn’t such a good feeling. But that’s why I was out of shape. And Man Of Steel pushed me beyond all limits I knew I had. I think to put on as much mass as I did for Superman, that is a very difficult thing to do, because you are literally creating something new. There was a good 25Ib [11kg] of muscle added from Immortals - that’s a lot!
You got to do a scene or two with Russell Crowe. Was that cool, as we hear you’re a bit of a Rusty fan?
Yes, big fan of Gladiator, big fan of Russell. He is a really, really quality actor and has a lot of experience, so you can quiz him and he’ll pass on knowledge and stuff. I met Russell while I was still at school, when I was 17, when he was shooting Proof Of Life. I was an extra in the back.
Did you have a chat with him?
During one of the setups, Russell was standing there just relaxing by himself, so I walked up and I just put my hand out and said, “Hi, very nice to meet you. I’m thinking of trying out acting — what do you think? What’s it like? Is it good? Is it hard to get into?” And he said, “Sometimes it’s great, other times it’s not. Sometimes you’re treated badly, sometimes you’re treated great.” And I was like, “OK, cool.” Two days later I received a picture of him from Gladiator that said: Dear Henry, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, Russell.
Nawww. Are you ready to have kids around you pointing and yelling, “Hey, that’s Superman!”
I think that’s going to be the most difficult thing. I was just hanging out with my friend in Florida, who has two kids, and the Man Of Steel trailer came out, so we put it on, obviously, because we were excited about it and totally geeking out, and then he tells his son, “Look, look, that’s Uncle Henry! He’s Superman!” And the kid’s like, “OK, cool.” Then a few days later, the kid’s giving me sideways glances — he’s not quite looking at me straight. He met me before he saw any of this, and he was like, “OK, cool, it’s Uncle Henry, big person, bit weird, don’t quite know how to deal with you yet, because you’re strange, and you’re in my house.” But now he’s looking at me like Superman.
How exciting was it to see yourself fly for the first time?
It was pretty awesome. I’m not going to lie. It was one of those experiences where you go, “I’m flying! I’m Superman!”
Do you own any Superman underwear?
That’s a silly question! But surely any underwear is Superman underwear if I’m wearing it.