In the shoes of Superman, he has already saved the world on the big screen, but he still has to sell. By playing in the new Mission Impossible, Henry Cavill puts a foot in another franchise. We met him in the heart of California to talk about his career and the turn he hopes to take.
Mission Impossible: Henry Cavill as you’ve never seen
Henry Cavill, 1m85 for a little more than 90 kilos, thinks of the pace he once mounted on the bike he is devouring the eye. “Sexy. Very sexy “. “For someone big enough like me, it’s nice to have a big bike so you do not look like an adult riding a toy.”
Humility, motorcycle and mustache
In the showroom of the brand in Beverly Hills, his eyes are on a Ducati Multistrada Enduro Pro, a coveted object of 1200cc and 152 horses. As he walks between motorcycles, Henry Cavill, relatively novice rider, goes into details.
“Why is it only 1200cc while they are 1260cc? He asks the seller. After getting a thorough explanation of how the extra torque could drag the bike off the road, Cavill nods. ” Okay. Ah, by the way, Henry, “he answers, extending his hand.
This is a Cavill classic, a small gesture so detached that it may not be noticed, but which, performed several times a day, depicts a 35-year-old actor without pretension. He introduces himself to the salesmen (“Daniel, delighted, I’m Henry,” “How are you, I’m Henry,” etc.) and taking selfies with Superman fans (be they tourists Israeli twenties or a couple in their fifties who also asks when they can see on the big screen). That’s when he mentions “Mission: Impossible-Fallout” for the first time.
«It’s worth going to see him, he says raising an eyebrow. I have a mustache.»
This is the Henry Cavill of 2018: still the same sculptural physique and well-managed behavior. Anyone who thought that the British actor known to have played Superman would simply wear a cloak and save the world did not know that Cavill had other strings to his bow. He is determined to make his career take an unexpected turn. The mustache is part of the plan. Cavill plays Tom Cruise’s opponent in “Fallout”.
“You can not be a hero with that kind of facial hair,” he said with a smile. It’s like the new black hat, the new scar on the face, the new English accent. ” He highlights the last part with a cockney accent and a sneer. It’s not exactly the world of Bizarro, but it’s clear that Henry Cavill is clearly no longer in Smallville … and he likes that.
In the new Mission Impossible, Henry Cavill wanders around Paris with his strange mustache and tries something new on a motorcycle. “They asked me if I had the motorcycle license,” he recalls. At the time, his only vehicle was a Bentley Bentayga. “I did not have the motorcycle license.” The production managed and rolled it into closed streets. He immediately took a liking and an obsession developed. “I felt this incredible feeling of freedom that I had never experienced elsewhere.”
Once the shooting was over, Cavill passed his motorcycle license in one day. He then bought his first motorcycle: a Ducati XDiavel S. It hit him in the eye as soon as he entered a dealership in London whose name was obvious: Metropolis Motorcycles. “I know, I know, we would have liked to imagine we would not have done better.”
Among the powers of Superman, the one that is most often forgotten is probably his ability to control an actor’s career. Even though Cavill has moved on, he knows that Kal El’s role will follow him all his life, for the better (“Man of Steel” was a great success) and for the worst (“Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice “and” Justice League “). A price he is more than happy to pay.
Nicknamed “Fat Cavill” by his classmates
Cavill grew up on the island of Jersey, the largest of the British Channel Islands, where his father worked as a stockbroker. He was the fourth of the five brothers who filled the family home with a frenetic activity and who were his definition of heroism in terms beyond those of the comics.
Piers, Cavill’s eldest brother, was a British Army officer for ten years. Nik, the second brother, is a highly decorated Royal Marines lieutenant colonel who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. He led an operation to capture a Taliban commander and received a medal for his service to the Queen and his country. In England, newspaper headlines referred to him as Henry Cavill’s brother or Superman’s brother and devoted an equivalent part of their article to the brother who played the hero and to the one who really was one. It never pleased Cavill who frowns and shakes his head thinking back.
In real life, Henry Cavill supports his brother. “Of course, we are scared for his life, but we do not make a fuss about it. It will not help him. I make sure his family is fine. It’s my job “. Cavill also dedicates time and money to the Royal Marines Charity, which helps staff and veterans return to civilian life. “If I can raise money and help, then I did what I had to do. It helps me feel less guilty about not joining them. ”
Cavill compares to his brothers who served and if he does not consider himself a model, Charlie, the younger brother, is not his opinion. One day, he and Cavill found themselves stranded on a reserve while they were playing. After shouting for help, Henry, then 7 years old, broke the door window, climbed up and managed to free his little brother. “Henry took the role of big brother seriously, as if it was his solemn duty, says Charlie. He has always watched over me. If someone tried to hurt me, he put it back in his place. ”
Jersey, which is just over 119 square kilometers, ended up being too small for Cavill. “At the age of 13, I really wanted to leave the island.” He continued his studies in England in the prestigious Stowe School which Richard Branson also rubbed shoulders with. “It’s cliché, but it helped me build and prepare for life,” he shrugged. Translation: the boarding school was really brutal. His comrades had given him a nickname, “Fat Cavill,” and he was harassed. “I was not a popular student. I was chubby and had ambition. So I was naturally an easy target. It’s not like I have significant emotional scars, but it was not the best experience. ”
Cavill was already taking drama classes at his school when it was chosen as the location for several scenes of “L’Échange”, a film released in 2000. One day, Cavill crossed a muddy rugby field in shorts, took his courage in both hands and asked Russell Crowe, the star of the movie, to talk to him about acting: “Hello, my name is Henry. I would like to become an actor What does the cinema environment look like? “. A few days later, Cavill received a package containing a pot of Vegemite, a rugby jersey, a CD of Russell Crowe’s group and a picture autographed by the Australian star of “Gladiator” with a message: “Dear Henry, a trip thousands of kilometers begins with a step forward. ”
“It helped me,” says Henry Cavill. I’m not saying that my career is based on that, but it encourages you when you doubt. We must always try.
More often, when seeking motivation, Cavill reflects on his doubts and flaws. Being chubby at the time, he was (and still is) very attentive to image problems. ” I’am aware. I have big goals for myself that I do not always achieve. Sometimes it’s unhealthy. ”
He says, however, that his obsession with his image brings water to his mill. “I am hypercritical and I want to be because I still have a lot of room to grow and improve.”
Work always ends up paying
This desire to improve, diagnose and correct each defect or failure was just as intense before the internship as afterwards. “Henry has always been very critical of himself,” says Charlie who followed Henry to Stowe. I do not like to say that he is a perfectionist, but he is. He wants to get ready and do his best, no matter what he does. ”
Two paths appeared in Cavill in his adolescence: one was the world of cinema and the other that of following his brothers in the military world. He is said to have studied Egyptology in Oxford and then entered the Royal Marines. “I think I would have liked it a lot, but I do not know if we know if we can take a ball before we really get one.” Before he could find an answer to this question and even before graduating from Stowe, he was chosen to play in the movie “The Count of Monte Cristo”. “It was shoulder to shoulder. The cinema has gained a short head in front of the army. He left school at 17 years old.
Since his debut in the film business, Cavill has demonstrated organization, dedication and focus. “It’s fun to work hard. I think I hold that on the military side of my brain. I hate to say “I would have liked to work harder”. It’s not cool “.
Guided by a very strong work ethic, he had some successes as his role as Charles, Duke of Suffolk in the Tudors, a sexually provocative drama series produced by Showtime. There was also a series of missed opportunities. Long before “Man of Steel“, Cavill was almost chosen to play Kal El, but the reboot in question never saw the light of day. When another version of the cartoon superhero’s story was created (“Superman Returns”), Brandon Routh took the role. Cavill missed a role in “Harry Potter and the Cup of Fire” (Robert Pattinson was finally chosen and then became famous thanks to Twilight). Cavill was the choice of author Stephenie Meyer to play Edward Cullen in the Twilight saga, but the adaptation was delayed and he was too old for the role. At just 22, he was almost chosen to play James Bond but the role was given to Daniel Craig.
“I was disgusted, but I had and I will have other plans. They will be as incredible as the ones I wanted. ” And sometimes, the past comes back. “I discovered that things never went away forever. Superman for example. I did not get the role of Bond when I was very young, but today Daniel is thinking of giving up the character. The opportunity comes again.
When asked if he intends to show the producers that he would like to become the next James Bond, Cavill laughs. “I think they know it.”
Superman is someone very human
After a tour of the Ducati showroom, Cavill exposes his goal: he is looking for a second motorcycle for his home in South Florida where he spends most of his free time. He returns to the Enduro. “I like this one, even if I’m not really going off-road, she’s very sexy.”
“That’s right,” says the seller before listing the features that make it ideal for long road trips from Baja to Alaska.
“I could buy it right away and go back to Miami with it. Cancel the plane guys! Actually no. I have to bring the dog back.
Some people put their dog on the tank the seller points out. “Yeah, no. I have a big akita. Do you sell sidecars? “.
There’s Kal El, Superman on the big screen, and then there’s Kal, Superman’s best friend and four-legged Cavill mate. The dog Kal is not just a star on social networks, he also has his own profile on BuzzFeed titled “OK, But Have You Seen Henry Cavill’s Dog?”
Privately private, Cavill has gradually stopped sharing his daily life on social networks. Most of the time, Kal is his muse, but the facial hair of the actor allowed him to compete with him. “Kal has more experience, but the mustache got a lot of attention because of” Justice League “. When Cavill was called in to refill certain scenes from the DC superhero movie, his mustache had to be digitally erased because he had not finished shooting “Mission Impossible Fallout”. It is said that the operation would have cost millions of dollars. Naturally, the mustache has become a meme.
Cavill adopted the mustache and used it to help shape CIA agent August Walker, his character in “Fallout.” “He’s not a bad guy. It’s just the antagonist of the protagonist. If you wanted to be saved, you called the wrong person. I do not save people. ”
This moral ambiguity is new to Cavill, but the director of “Fallout” was able to detect it. “I’ve only heard good things about him and it’s all worked out: he works hard, he’s involved and positive,” says Chris McQuarrie, who also wrote the film. I also felt he had not used all his potential. I wanted to explore his dark side.
I would hate to say “I would have liked to work more”
Cavill enjoyed playing a tinker and it shows. “There’s a fight scene in the movie … it’s all in the trailers,” McQuarrie says. Henry is preparing to fight. He improvised this scene, but this is the moment when everyone reacts most viscerally. You spend months filming dangerous and complicated sequences to pack people and the scene where Henry punches becomes the best scene in the film. It says a lot about him.
Another thing you need to know is that Cavill is obsessed with the veracity of the facts. For the mustache, he states that it is inspired by a comic strip of Superman. “We were looking for ideas and I found this character, Elias Orr, in” Superman: for tomorrow “or” Superman: tomorrow “? …”.
“Yes, it’s” Superman: for tomorrow, “he says after checking on the Internet with his cell phone. One of my favorite comics. This guy, Orr, has a questionable morality and a stylish look. ”
And it does not stop there. Henry Cavill releases his Google Pixel 2 XL every time he has a doubt: what was the name of the character he played in high school in “Grease”? The first film for which he auditioned (“I Dream of Africa”, not “Out of Africa”)? And the destination of his next motorcycle trip to visit Nik. “My brother lives in Plymouth. Or unless it’s Portsmouth. Let me verify “.
After several searches, he finally finds the answer: “Ah. Yes, it’s Plymouth, England. Well. I always mix the two while I am English.
He could have managed because he comes from the Channel Islands and not from England itself. “It’s not an excuse,” he answers me.
“I managed to check several points in my to-do list before I die”
Shortly after, we arrive at the Beverly Hills Hotel. As we head to the Polo Lounge for lunch, Cavill agrees to pose for several photos (“Nice to meet you, I’m Henry”), holds the door to a group of women and then asks for a table at the table. outside.
We go through the restaurant where there are executive producers, agents and producers who finish their meal. When Cavill passes, they exchange nods, a form of recognition that he has not lost.
Now that Cavill has won a place at the Hollywood table, he is determined to use it. In addition to playing in a second blockbuster, Cavill is considering a new movie about Superman. He realizes more than ever his goal of leading the projects in which he is involved. Several years ago, Cavill launched Promethean Productions with his friend Ben Blankenship and his brother Charlie, an adventure that is beginning to bear fruit.
When we sit on a bench next to an arbor, Cavill avoids the bread basket and asks for sparkling water and an Americano. He does not order any entry or anything to eat. He is thoughtful and appreciates what he sees. “I did Superman. I am in “Mission: Impossible”, I managed to check several points in my list of things to do before dying.
It was not easy. “I got a lot of bad advice, but the best I got was to enjoy and smile more often because it only happens once.”
Cavill’s face lights up when he talks about the house he is building (a sun-drenched solitude fortress in South Florida), his dive plans and motorcycle tours that he will do in England and, when he gets his new bike, in the United States.
Still thinking about advice after signing the bill for our long meal without food, Cavill remembers the words of one of his friends in the US Special Forces. “When he joined the unit, he volunteered for everything. That’s what I try to do. Try. Test. To fear. To appreciate this prolongation of oneself and to adopt it “.
When he gets up, he hits the table with the palm of his hands. “Say yes to everything. Absolutely everything. Apart from crappy stuff like drugs or boy bands.