On getting the role of Superman Henry said, "For a guy, it's pretty much the most awesome moment you can imagine."
On rumours he will be in the Fifty Shades of Grey film: "Put it this way, I've not read a script, spoken to a producer or a director."
On nudity: "I'm not a big fan of getting naked for the sake of it. I wouldn't use a body double, because I'm particular about the physicality of acting, but I won't just get my arse out because people are insisting I do."
Read the complete article in the scans below for more.
Hello, hot Super Man
For the past decade, Henry Cavill has been on the verge of something big. And it doesn’t get much bigger than everyone’s favourite caped crusader. So, is he ready to take off? Hell, yes, says Celia Walden.
“Laugh?” Henry Cavill is staring at me incredulously. “Of course I didn’t laugh. For a guy, it’s pretty much the most awesome moment you can possibly imagine.” Not many men would describe pulling on a blue unitard that way. Then again, not many men get to play Superman. The 30-year-old Channel Islander landed the coveted role in this summer’s predicted blockbuster, Man Of Steel, after a decade of near misses. Having lost the role of Harry Potter’s Cedric Diggory to Robert Pattinson, Twilight’s Edward Cullen once again to Pattinson, and James Bond to Daniel Craig, Henry was beginning to be known as “the unluckiest man in Hollywood”.
On the day we meet, in a beachside fish bar on a sunny LA afternoon, Henry looks anything but unlucky. He doesn’t much look like a bridesmaid (another nickname the industry press lumbered him with) either, although with his chiselled jaw, cleft chin and mass of dark curls, he’s pretty enough to be one. No, today, Henry is definitely the bride — Vera Wang gown, eight-tiered wedding cake and all. “It would have to be an alternative wedding,” he chuckles. “A blue-tights-wearing wedding.”
The secrecy shrouding the film is such that Henry is unable to say much about the Man of Steel’s new incarnation (he wasn’t even allowed to send pictures of himself in costume to his parents), but early promotional trailers have shocked fans, revealing, as they do, two crucial omissions: the kiss curl and the red trunks. “It’s a new take on him,” laughs Henry. “Nobody has a kiss curl any more, and those shorts were derived from turn-of-the-century strong men, so we decided he could do without them.”
He still laughs about the moment the call came in from director Zack Snyder. “I was playing an online computer game, which you couldn’t pause or save, so I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll let it ring.’ Then I look down at the last minute and see Zack’s name, so I dive for it — and I just miss it.” When Henry did finally reach the director, and Zack casually asked him whether he fancied “doing a little movie with me”, Henry “wanted to explode. But you have to play it cool, you know? Although not so cool that you seem unappreciative. Then I put the phone down and there was this moment of surreal silence while I stood there and thought: ‘Did I just get a call saying, ‘You’re now Superman’?”
Henry had waited 11 years for a phone call of that magnitude. Sure, his CV may be impressive and varied. After his first role in The Count Of Monte Cristo in 2002, he went on to star in I Capture The Castle, Red Riding Hood, Hellraiser: Hellworld, Stardust, Woody Allen’s Whatever Works and Immortals. And his portrayal of Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, in the hit TV series The Tudors, won him international acclaim. That said, time and time again he’d get the same knockback: “You’re not a name.” “It was so frustrating, because then how do you become one, right?”
It was never about fame for the Stowe-educated son of a stockbroker, the fourth of five boys. “I realized that there were benefits to being famous in terms of the jobs and the money you get, but it wasn’t about the fame itself.” Sweetly, Henry seems to be less concerned about the downsides of his new celebrity (the loss of privacy and inability to quietly endure a bad hangover in public) than disappointing his fans. “You have to be able to switch yourself on, because even though something awful may just have happened to one of your friends or family members, this may be the only time that they get to meet you, and you don’t want them walking away thinking you’re not a nice person.”
It’s hard to imagine that anyone could walk away from Henry thinking that. In many ways, he’s a traditional British public schoolboy: gently spoken and conservative minded, with just enough mischief in his eyes to give him edge. Of course, he’s a vault on all things personal, adamant that “it’s important to keep your private life separate from your professional life when you’re in the public eye, otherwise the two get horribly blended together and it bites you in the ass one day,” and l wonder whether a broken engagement last summer, to 27-year-old British showjumper Ellen Whitaker, has made him wary. He concedes that celebrity makes relationships harder (“It takes a lot of understanding from the other person, because there’s a lot of time apart, but l’ve always been a monogamous man”), but refuses to discuss his current relationship, with 30-year-old actress Gina Carano, a martial arts expert and the star of Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire.
It forces me to go to increasingly ludicrous lengths in order to get any insight into his taste in women. “Look,” he chuckles, as my questions get ever more farcical. “What’s important to me is that a woman has confidence in what she is, as opposed to trying to conform to someone else’s type.” We establish that he dislikes aggressive women “because they’re always on the defensive” and that romantically, he’s “old-school, but still very much of the times”. He doesn’t mind a lush (“l like a good drinking buddy,” he laughs, “and l can drink a lot”), and he prefers subtly dressed women to overtly provocative ones: “There’s something incredibly sexy about a dress that leaves you guessing.” But he clams up when I demand physical specifics. What, for example, is his favourite female body part? “Pardon?” Henry blinks twice. His favourite female body part? The part he’d rip off and gnaw on if he could? After a stuttering start, the man becomes a poet. “Well, what’s great is a woman’s shape as a whole,” he says earnestly. “I mean, no artist could imagine a more beautiful shape. It’s incredible. A man can look attractive, beautiful even, but nothing like a woman naked. That’s why women would rather look at other naked women than at men.”
That may sometimes be the case, but if absolutely forced, we’re also able to endure a little male nudity. “I’m not a big fan of getting naked for the sake of it,” Henry says, disappointingly. “I wouldn’t use a body double, because I’m particular about the physicality of acting, but I won’t just get my arse out because people are insisting I do.” It seems a shame not to flaunt a body that has undergone nine months of intensive physical training to resemble Superman’s. “The ‘major bulking’ phase came first and that was fun,” explains Henry. “That meant eating 5,000 calories a day. The best thing about that phase is that you’re really strong and even though you don’t look great, because you’re carrying a lot of extra fat, you’re always in a really good mood. The leaning down phase is the hardest, because although you’re looking great, you’re always in a bad mood because you’re so hungry.” Welcome to the world of the Hollywood starlet. “I know,” he nods grimly. “When I got my first role, in The Count Of Monte Cristo, I was told to lose a stone and a half. It was a lot, but I was a chubby kid, and if you have to play a physically attractive role in Hollywood then maybe you have to pull your socks up. Still, I’m aware that women are sometimes horribly mistreated in terms of weight. They mistreat themselves too, though, because they often think they’re overweight when they’re not. I hate it when women starve themselves…”
We haven’t discussed masking tape or kitchen implements, but given Henry’s views on gratuitous nudity, I’m guessing the rumours about him playing Christian Grey in EL James’s rompathon, Fifty Shades Of Grey, are baseless. “Put it this way,” he says. “I’ve not read a script, spoken to a producer or a director...” He has, however, read a few opening chapters. “Not exactly chaste writing, is it?” he smirks. “I’ve always preferred the implied sex scene anyway, because having it spelt out always seems a bit tacky. Sex is so readily available to us in every form of media now, so it’s no longer that exciting on screen.”
There’s something surprisingly cool-headed about Henry, given what’s happening to him. He’s not a playboy, capitalising on his success with every hot young actress in town, and he’s not a sycophant, preferring to keep himself to himself on set. Ask him who he’d feel star-struck by now, and he’ll tell you that he’s “never really been star-struck by anyone. I’ve always looked at things realistically and thought, ‘Just because you make a lot of money and you’re famous, it doesn’t mean that you deserve to be worshipped.’ Even when I was at school, my heroes were always my brothers and my mum and dad.” When Russell Crowe (who incidentally now plays Henry’s dad, Jor-El, in Man Of Steel) came to Stowe to film scenes for his 2000 film Proof Of Life, Henry remembers sauntering up to him in front of his astonished classmates.
“All these people were whispering and I just thought, ‘I’m going to ask him a serious question about the acting industry,’ which I did.” A few days later, Crowe sent Henry a package, which included a CD of his band, a T-shirt, a jar of Vegemite and a note that read: “Dear Henry, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Henry, it seems, is now well on his way.