The Men's Health 2008 photoshoot was one of Henry Cavill's first few shoots (fourth or fifth of what we know). Henry was not a very famous actor in June 2008, so what was it like to work with him back then as a budding actor?
He was great in every way, very relaxed and open to doing a great story set in Ireland where he was filming (Ed note: Cavill was filming 'The Tudors' at the time). We wanted to turn an outdoors country gentleman story and he was very receptive to this idea and the clothes. Also quite often it’s great when the talent is newer to the game of shoots as they tend to be enthusiastic and willing to try ideas. Sometimes the longer people do things the more complacent they become, but not our Henry.
Photographing him seven years later, how has he changed?
I guess he's changed and certainly a great deal more experienced and confident in himself. He has this great quality of being calm and collected which I find rare in my work. He also has a lot more experience in how to project himself and what angles and clothes suit him.
What is the difference between a "regular" photoshoot (Men's Health) vs. a "promo" photoshoot (Man from U.N.C.L.E.) for a movie?
With a shoot like Men’s Health the idea is more specific in concept and the fashion element is more of a story look whereas with a shoot like for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. I am not shooting for one publication but many and in different countries so the brief is more open and looks and styles vary massively.
We know that the first promo photo of Napoleon Solo was published in the fall of 2013 (a fan shared a signed headshot of Henry as Solo with us). That photo was the first image anybody saw of the Napoleon Solo character, and it appeared before anyone saw any film scene. How do you feel about this responsibility?
As a photographer working for a publication or film company one has to be very aware of the press and how eager they are to get their hands on an exclusive shot or look of a character. The film companies tend to try and control what is released so as not to spoil the press and marketing campaign. Magazines are the same as they don't want to kill a shoot that they have worked hard to secure and have an exclusive with. This is why there is so much security and secrecy on many film sets.
Does the director or the movie studio set up and approve such promotional photos?
Sometimes the studio may intentionally leak an image to the press, and generally this will be with the director’s and talent’s approval.
Can you give us some insight into how you got some of the photos of Henry Cavill that we've seen from the Men's Health and U.N.C.L.E. shoots?
With Men's Health we had a conversation with the magazine about what we would like to do and obviously this is based on many factors — where he would be shooting, outside/studio. Men's Health liked the idea of being outside as it’s a health magazine and from that point we talked clothes etc. With a film, one would want to give the shoot a taste of the film but not too much as fashion magazines aren't always interested in shots that look like they were shot on set.
Do you have full discretion for the themes of your photoshoots? (where to go for shooting, what gear the actor should wear, hairstyle, makeup, etc.)
Yes this is always thought out well before the shoot happens. Often the magazine may want to do a specific idea but it’s normally open for discussion (location, story idea, clothes, props, etc.).
In what role (character/appearance/image) would you like to shoot Henry if you get another opportunity?
To me Henry has a very unusual classic movie star quality to him. His features are very classic which is what made him so perfect for the role in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. He's very debonair and handsome and that’s rare so I would love to go a classic Hollywood style shoot with beautifully elegant and tailored clothes. A modern version of style and class.
It has been said that Henry Cavill does not take a bad picture. What does that mean from a photographer's perspective?
Everyone takes a bad picture, but Henry takes far less. It has a lot to do with lighting and dressing and confidence and knowing oneself. He understands this so there’s always a greater success rate.
Please share with us your favourite picture of Henry from the Men's Health shoot and tell us why?
I love the shots of him close up and very classic. There is one particular shot in Black and White where he's wearing a hat that looks like it was taken 40 years ago…very classy and classic and very easy.
What's next for you in terms of new projects?
Shooting in Vancouver this week for NBC’s The Magicians and next week for HBO, FDR TV show and working on an exhibition and book to celebrate 20 years of the film Trainspotting that I shot all the publicity and posters for. Also, a retrospective book of the last 25 years of work.
Thank you, Lorenzo, for answering our questions!