Henry Cavill is the new Superman in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel
On January 30, 2011, it was announced that Henry Cavill had been cast in the role of Clark Kent/Superman in director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel.
Technically, Man of Steel isn’t his first time wearing Superman’s cape. In 2004 Henry was cast as Clark Kent (and alter ego) in McG’s Superman: Flyby. However, shuffling of filmmakers resulted in McG’s version of the film never came to pass and Henry missed out on the opportunity to play Superman in the project, which eventually became the 2006 flick Superman Returns directed by Brian Singer. “[The McG and Singer versions] were two different movies,” Henry explained. “So it wasn’t so much of a sting because it was like, ‘Oh, I got [the role],’ and then the movie just didn't happen.”
It took Henry Cavill far longer than expected to complete his journey from Krypton to Earth. Years after the British actor first circled the role of Superman, he finally landed the part of the Man of Steel in Zack Snyder’s reboot of the storied comic franchise. At long, long last, Henry Cavill who missed out on playing some of pop culture's best known characters officially signs on to play Superman.
“Thank God it’s happening now, because I have much more experience and can do the role justice,” he said of the coveted Superman part. “It was wonderful to have a second stab at a job — and as a wiser, older, more experienced actor.”
That experience came in handy during his two-part audition. In October 2010, Henry was asked to read some scenes written specifically for the tryout. He came back in January for a screen test and proved he could sell the suit and an American accent.
To become Hollywood’s new Man of Steel, Henry Cavill had to pass the Laugh Test. To wit: Could he wear the Superman suit without anyone giggling? And not just any Superman suit. To shoot his screen test, Henry donned a replica of the costume Christopher Reeve wore in director Richard Donner’s classic 1978 film.
As an assistant helped him into the suit, Henry was feeling less than super. But he had recently lost the muscle tone he gained to play a loincloth warrior in the mythic fantasy Immortals. “All I could think was, Oh, God, they’re going to look at me and go, ‘He’s not Superman. Not a chance,’” Henry recalls. “The actor inside me was going, ‘You’re not ready! You’re not ready!’”
Zack Snyder saw something different. “He walked out and no one laughed,” says the director. “Other actors put that suit on and it’s a joke, even if they’re great actors. Henry put it on, and he exuded this kind of crazy-calm confidence that just made me go, ‘Wow. Okay, this is Superman.’”
Two weeks after Henry’s screen test, Snyder gave him the life-changing call. “I told him that I had some good and bad news: He needed to start working out.” Henry was home alone in his London apartment at the time. “I was trying very, very hard to play it cool on the phone with Zack Snyder when he called me. I thought, ‘Okay, play it cool. Not too cool, obviously. But, play it cool.’” And he admits that when he was told, he was very un-Supermanlike in his reaction. He laughs: “As soon as I hung up, I was leaping up and down and running up and down the stairs and roaring and shouting, and then trying to call everyone. No one picked up their phones, believe it or not! Apart from my assistant. I eventually got through. I was trying to tell the news to everyone and no one was answering their phones!”
Which explains why, when asked if he’s daunted by the prospect of stepping into the big red boots, he sounds anything but, “[It’s] not scary. It’s fantastic – enjoyable. It’s an opportunity. It’s a chance to show what I’ve got, to enhance what I’ve got and entertain everyone and tell a good story.”
New Superman’s look
“I got to see it through various prototypes and stages of development,” Henry reveals. “But still, the first time I had it all on with the cape, I deliberately didn’t look in the mirror as it was going on. I wanted to have that sort of turnaround moment. Probably one of the best moments of my life, to turn around and realize that I’m Superman. There’s no other feeling like it. That still hasn’t gone, either. Still, when I’m in the trailer, I’m going, ‘this is so cool!’”
And, eventually, on set of Man of Steel, Henry Cavill showed Superman’s look fans have never seen on the caped hero – no trademark red underpants, a beard and he appears to go shirtless in at least one scene. Speaking about the comic book character’s new updated look Henry appeared to be a bit intimidated by the revealing attire. “Why wear underpants when you can be far more revealing?” he says with a laugh.
A year before Man of Steel Henry was starred in Tarsem Singh’s fantasy epic Immortals playing legendary Greek hero Theseus. Both Immortals and Man of Steel are highly physical roles, of course. Preparing for the former, Henry recalls, “it was the first time I’d ever worked that hard to get myself in shape.”
And while he slacked off following Immortals for another film, he says he spent months putting muscle back on. Henry’s punishing prep saw him mainlining 5,000 calories daily and training for two and a half hours a day. For Man of Steel, he got Super-ripped at Gym Jones, a fitness boutique specializing in building action-hero physiques. “I’m now in that kind of shape again, 25 pounds heavier, because it’s been a different kind of training it. I got it back and I plan on not losing it. I don’t care what they offer me.”
Henry didn’t go back over the old films and TV shows. “I went straight to the comic books and had stacks of them and just read and read and read and read and read. I enjoyed so much learning about the character in such a dense manner. The comic books were my source of material; the TV shows and movies were someone else’s interpretation and so I left that to them,” he admitted. “I didn’t want them to influence my interpretation and my performance of the character.”
As Superman, Henry Cavill becomes the third British actor to play the lead role of a comic book superhero (once again, Christian Bale is Batman and Andrew Garfield is the new Spider-Man). He also becomes the first non-American to play Superman. Although he’s turned it around big time, the critics who once felt sorry for him now have the knives out, saying a Brit shouldn’t be playing the all-American Clark Kent and his stars and stripes hero alter-ego.
But Henry is unfazed. He explains: “He is from the planet Krypton. He doesn’t have to be an American,” Henry says. “If we were really true to the story, I would be an invulnerable alien. But I’m not, I’m an actor. Superman is an American icon. Whether it’s an American role or not, I can’t be sure... Superman stands for something very universal. He was certainly raised in America but he himself is not necessarily an American, because he’s come from a place very far away... He is very different and therefore all the more beautiful when he tries to do so much for all of us, who are totally different from him.”
Modern incarnation of Superman
At the Man of Steel panel at Comic-con 2012 Henry Cavill said on what he plans to bring to the Superman legend: “I just wanted to bring as much of the modern Superman into the world. You, guys, know everything about him, but it’s for everyone out there as well who hasn’t experienced what Superman can be. With this, hopefully I bring a modern version which everyone can associate with.”
“It is pretty intense, I’m not gonna lie,” Henry said when talked to the responsibilities which come with the role. “I’ve just been looking at the trailer and... I get to wear that on my chest. I just really, really hope I've done everything I need to do to please you, guys, because this is 100% for you, guys. Thanks for the support.”
Man of Steel is due in cinemas June 14th, 2013. The film co-stars: Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russel Crowe and Kevin Kostner.