The thought of a British Superman had never occurred to me before hearing the eloquent voice of Henry Cavil on the other end of the telephone. Cavill, who just turned 30, was born on the island of Jersey, a British Crown Dependency, but his Superman in Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel" is not descended from British origins. Cavill's man of steel, like Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh before him, is from Kansas by way of Krypton. The difference is that Cavill plays his version with a little more weary bravado than what we've seen in the past.
The thing about Cavill is that I actually believe him when he says he didn't think he'd be cast as Superman in "Man of Steel." He had lost the role nine years earlier when plans for a version of Superman directed by McG fell through. The near-misses didn't stop there: among the iconic characters Cavill almost starred as were James Bond in "Casino Royale" and Edward Cullen in "Twilight." Empire magazine even labeled him "the unluckiest man in Hollywood." With that in mind, it's easy to understand Cavill's trepidation about "Man of Steel."
Here, Cavill -- who endearingly refers to himself as a "geek" (and if you don't believe him, wait until he starts talking about the Superman villain Brainiac or discussing "World of Warcraft") -- looks ahead to his future as Superman, both as a character (ahem, Justice League) and what it will mean to his own personal fame and, more importantly, his personal privacy.
I read that after getting the role that you stared into a mirror repeating "I'm Superman!" I have a hard time believing that expletives weren't involved.
Well, I may have censored the statement for the sake of the interview.
What's the uncensored version?
[Laughs] As I said it in Details is exactly how I said it, of course.
You lost roles in "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" to Robert Pattinson. Were you worried at all Zack Snyder was going to call and say, "So, we decided to cast Robert Pattinson as Superman."
[Laughs] I wasn't worried about any particular actor getting the role -- I was prepared, and expecting, "no." I mean, of course I wanted a "yes," but as soon as he told me "yes," I wasn't ready for it. I really wasn't prepared for the answer to be "yes." So, it was a bit of a like "I don't know how to feel" moment. But, yeah, it wasn't like I was there going, "Oh, someone else is going to get the role."
Was there any hesitation? In the sense that for the rest of your career, this will be mentioned as something that you did.
Not for a second was there hesitation. Not for a split second. It was such an opportunity to tell the story of this amazing character -- and with amazing people like Snyder, [producer Christopher] Nolan ... and what turned out to be an absolutely epic cast.
Have you seen all of the other Superman movies?
I have seen them. But, I didn't use them for research.
I was thinking that you might want to watch them for the opposite reason. In that this is such a different interpretation, you might want to watch them in an effort not to do what they did. Does that make sense?
It makes total sense. Because the important thing for me was to go to the source material and with other movies or live action stuff that's happened, that's another actor's interpretation of the source material -- which are the comic books. And I wouldn't want someone else's interpretation influencing my own. I wanted this interpretation to be purely mine and just pure -- and not sort of hints of someone else's performance in there. Because it would make the thing more disjointed and it was special to me that I do this direct from the source material and as me.
You even watched "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace"?
No. I didn't. I didn't.
You were going to play Superman in McG's version, then you were dropped when Bryan Singer came aboard. I'm sure that was heartbreaking then, but do you feel it's better to play this character now, rather than then?
I couldn't agree more. And not to say anything about the script or anything that was going on then with anyone else, but, just personally, I've got more experience now. I've acted for that much longer -- it's like two-thirds of my career, almost, I've acted now, on top of what I had already done. I've lived more of a life. I have experience more in the way of ups and downs and goods and bads -- so I could more accurately represent this incredible character.
But also, you were closer to 20 then, now you're 30. Do you think that back then you could have handled the fame that comes along with this role?
I haven't thought about that. But, I don't know, to be honest. I don't know how it's going to happen now, to be honest. Because when the movie comes out, I've been told that everything is going to change -- and I have no idea what to expect, really.
Have you noticed any differences so far?
Yeah, there's definitely a difference. You know, people will stop me and ask for a photo. Going to Starbucks, I definitely feel that thing of "any minute now someone is going to say something" -- then it will be photo bedlam. But it hasn't quite hit with its full force yet, but it's definitely changing.
Are you dreading that? Perhaps that's too strong of a word.
You know, it's a tough one to say whether I'm looking forward to it or not looking forward to it. Of course it's nice to have a movie which everyone enjoys and loves -- absolutely, because that's the whole point. I love telling stories and if everyone loves the story, then I've done my job right and that's a great feeling. But, at the same time, sometimes you don't want to have someone put a picture of you on Facebook for the world to see -- you're not feeling great or you've got a cold or something or you just had a fight with your family and you're in a bad mood. You know, just the normal stuff, which we generally take for granted. You know, if you're in a bad mood walking down the street, people are like, "Oh, wow, he's in a bad mood." But if you're in a bad mood and you're in the public eye, then you're almost not allowed to be in a bad mood.
I like that you've already been theorizing on a Justice League movie.
Yeah, it's important to me that this thing -- I mean -- I love telling this story: I loved working with the guys and it was an amazing job to work on. And I'd be very happy to do many more movies with all of those people again. And, you know, we were so excited about stuff, you did start thinking about future movies and what the storylines would be. And, also, this is the kind of stuff I like to read! So, it's a story which I'm going to keep on imagining how it may continue.
When you were filming "Man of Steel," were the words "Justice League" ever mentioned?
Not officially. Not like a producer saying, "Oh, by the way, this could lead into 'Justice League.'" It was always us fanboys or geeks saying, "Oh, I wonder if they'll make a Justice League out of this," and what that might involve. It was just people geeking out basically.
You seem to like Brainiac. If someone let you decide, is that who you'd go with next?
I think Brainiac is a great character. [Pauses] I'm not going to answer that because I would need to think about it more seriously to give an official answer in an interview.
I think Doomsday is an awesome character as well. There are plenty of awesome characters, but I like the idea of Brainiac because he's got the city of Kandor in everything, so that's an exciting prospect -- to reintroduce an idea of Krypton back to Earth. And that opens up a whole bunch of new possibilities.
Who would you cast to play the Bizarro Henry Cavill Superman?
Ideally it would be me -- just with a whole bunch of prosthetics and CGI.
Are you contracted for more Superman movies?
How Hollywood works with these kind of things, when you are doing a screen test, before the screen test, you will sign a contract saying, "OK, yes, I'll do the movie if you guys want me." And, in that, it's standard procedure to do two options beyond the movie.
And I think with Justice League, people look at what Marvel did with "The Avengers" and get excited about the possibilities on DC Comics side.
Yes. I'm sure it does and it's a development to the story, which is interesting -- the combining of different worlds. Whether it happens or not, I just don't know. I just don't know.
You're a big fan of "World of Warcraft." If you could pick a character to play in the movie, who would you play?
Oh, oh! Well, there are so many stories. There are so many different stories it would be tough to choose one character. And I haven't played "World of Warcraft" in so long now, you've caught me slightly off guard.
I got you with a hard hitting question.
It is a hard hitting one! I mean, Varian Wrynn would be a great character to play. And the name completely escapes me, but the guy who is the Lich King would be awesome -- Arthas Menethil.
Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.