Henry Cavill is having the year of his career between the release of the epic The Immortals and filming Man of Steel. Cavill spoke to Movie Fanatic and takes us inside the filming of The Immortals and how the discipline for making that film has more than readied him for portraying Superman.
Cavill portrays Theseus in The Immortals, the man chosen by the gods to battle the evil King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke). Cavill stars alongside Stephen Dorff, Freida Pinto and Isabel Lucas in director Tarsem Singh’s visual marvel that lands in theaters in 3D on November 11.
Movie Fanatic: What did you take away from the experience of filming the epic The Immortals?
Henry Cavill: Friendship and any experience on an acting job is good experience because you can take it to the next one. The physical experience was obviously wonderful because it's prepped me for this physical experience. Which I've learned that when you go to this kind of level, it's no longer about the physical. It's more about the mental. It's about the will power to push yourself into that very dark place. You're standing next to the precipice and you've got that weight on your shoulders and you're only halfway through the workout and you need to push yourself off and just go into that big black hole and keep on pushing. And Immortals prepped me for that emotionally and mentally in the physical sense -- if that makes sense. So, I'm very grateful for that. But besides that, friendship, acting experience and [it was] great working with Tarsem.
Movie Fanatic: You had to do some serious training for The Immortals. Take us through the process.
Henry Cavill: It was six months of work. Due to the nature of the training, which was from a very talented martial artist called Roger Yuan, with all the fight sequences and everything, it was essential to do all the stretching beforehand. So, part of the training was about flexibility as well because due to the nature of martial arts, you’re going to need flexibility. Otherwise you would have ended up pulling stuff and doing damage to muscles. So therefore, during shooting, I was prepared. If I did sustain any minor injuries, they healed quickly and I did not sustain any major injuries.
Movie Fanatic: How did being so fit influence your actual performance?
Henry Cavill: Before work when you look in the mirror, or even before looking in the mirror, you do feel different. A part of the character is more expressive in you and so when you’re in that kind of shape, I essentially was wearing my costume because I barely had a costume. Yeah, it certainly does help.
Movie Fanatic: What inspired you by playing Theseus?
Henry Cavill: Throughout history, there are stories of epic battles where men have dug very deeply and women have dug very deeply into their willpower to continue fighting. But the only reason why they’re there in the first place is the years of training to get to that place and to be told a story about. I think like anything which involves fighting, it’s not the actual fight which is the hard work. It’s all the prep that goes into it. Anything physical, it’s all about the prep anyway. You may see the guy in the UFC ring fighting and it may seem effortless, his abilities, his kicks, his punches, whatever, but it’s actually the years of training beforehand where the real work is.
Movie Fanatic: What was it like working with Mickey Rourke?
Henry Cavill: Working with any actor that has that kind of experience is good because you can learn as much as you possibly can from him.
Movie Fanatic: Did you learn anything from the veteran actor?
Henry Cavill: Goodness, I learned that there's a certain gravitas you can have by doing the smallest things. And things you do in your everyday life you often don't do when you're acting because you're concentrating so hard on doing something that you're actually not doing the natural things. Mickey is pretty good at that.
Movie Fanatic: What first appealed to you about The Immortals story?
Henry Cavill: Tarsem. When I first read the script myself, I read it and wasn’t that convinced initially. The producer said, “I’ve spoken to Tarsem, you’ve got to go meet this guy.” And I did, and after I walked out of that room, I said, “I want to do this movie. I really, really want it.”
Movie Fanatic: How did Tarsem convince you to do the film?
Henry Cavill: He had his visuals all set. He had his passion. He basically had an idea of what he wanted and that in itself, when you walk into a room and you have a director who’s actually genuinely in charge of what he wants, you feel safe. You think, "Okay, great, I want to be a part of this because I know no matter what, I’m going to get to do my bit, and you’re going to do your bit and we’re going to work together," as opposed to it being “Well, we don’t really know what we’re doing but it’s kind of like this and therefore you’ll fit in here somewhere but we might change a lot of stuff up.”
Movie Fanatic: Is it difficult to wrap your head around playing such mythic characters, whether it’s Theseus or Superman?
Henry Cavill: You can't look at it from the external viewpoint because it can be crushing. You've got to go, "Okay, I'm playing a role.” And if you approach it any differently from playing any other role -- and I'm talking from the place of we approach any role with the same kind of dedication no matter what -- if you approach it any differently than any other role then you're not going to do a good enough job. Because you'll be worried about what everyone is thinking about everything, as opposed to just acting -- which is what it is.
Movie Fanatic: How has filming Man of Steel met your expectations?
Henry Cavill: It's been wonderful. It’s very hard work, exciting and fun, all of those things. I can't really say any more [laughs].
Movie Fanatic: How are you handling the transition between being a working actor on projects to being the star of these films that have such intense curiosity and excitement around them? Between The Immortals and Man of Steel, there are quite a lot of expectations.
Henry Cavill: We're still working actors. Is it any different? No. There is no difference, you're still doing a job. You're turning up to work, it's still a horrible time in the morning. It's dark when you turn up to work, it's dark when you leave work and you're tired and you're hungry. It's like any job. The fact that there is more public attention towards them certainly doesn't make a difference. There might be more money in the job and so therefore there are a few more luxuries here and there -- which does make a difference. It's nice when you turn up and you've got a proper trailer as opposed to a sort of small, very cold box to get dressed in. But it's still a job. You're still doing the acting stuff. Just because it's bigger doesn't make it any different. And it shouldn't either.