Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Henry Cavill joins an elite group of actors who have played “Superman” since the superhero character was first created for a comic book in 1938 and subsequently adapted for TV and movies.
The buff and handsome 30-year-old Brit, however, had to put those other characterizations out of his mind when it came down to depicting the alien superhero in the all-new “Man of Steel,” directed by “300’s” Zack Snyder and written by “The Dark Knight” trilogy co-writer David S. Goyer.
Having played a god in “The Immortals,” Cavill had to put on roughly 20 pounds of muscle to play the quintessential superhero.
Tall, handsome and lantern-jawed, the blue-eyed Cavill recently spoke at a press conference about putting on the suit, flying faster than a speeding bullet and playing an iconic character not as an icon, but as a man.
Playing an Iconic Character
“First I don’t think it’s about finding my way into an icon. Playing an icon, you don’t try to be an icon because that defeats the purpose. The responsibility attached is enormous and the realization that it actually really really matters meant that I wanted to put the most amount of work into representing the character properly. That especially applied when I was working out in the gym. When you feel you can’t push any harder and you can’t lift any more weight, you think, “Hold on a second, you’ve got to look like Superman.” I knew there was a bunch of people out there relying on me to be that superhero. It really helped to push up a few more of those reps, and just become that character.”
Drawing from Within
“As far as the conflict that (Kal-El/Clark Kent) went through or the journey, it wasn’t about classic Superman material. So when you see Clark traveling through the world trying to work out what and who and why he is, I didn’t go to the source material for that, I just applied my own life to that. As actors, it’s quite a lonely existence unless you have someone traveling with you the entire time. You spend a lot of time by yourself and you meet new people and you make temporary families and you love them and then you never see them again, potentially, apart from the occasional press conference. You just apply that to the character and that’s exactly what he experiences. New groups of people constantly and then they disappear again. He has to introduce himself to these other people and prove to them he’s a nice guy, trying to do all the right stuff, and all of a sudden they disappear again. So it’s just that lonely aspect that I applied to it as opposed to any classic Superman material.”
Following in the Footsteps of Other Clark Kent/Superman Iterations
“I did not take anything from the other (actors) that played Superman before. As an actor, the way I do it and the way I viewed all the actors that have come before, it’s their interpretation of the source material—the source material being the comic books. I wanted to do my own interpretation not out of a sense of ego but out of a sense of it might be a disjointed performance if I have someone else’s personality and their influence affecting my interpretation of the character. So I went straight to the comic books. I’ve watched the older movies but I did not apply those performances to mine.”
What Superman Represents
“I don’t necessarily think that he speaks to the outsider alone. He speaks to everyone. Or that ideal of Superman speaks to everyone. We all need hope no matter what century we are in, whatever state of life we are in, whether we are going through tragedy or not. Its just hope that everything will be OK and if tragedy and disaster happen, I hope we can overcome it. I don’t believe (Superman) is solely for those who are outsiders and those who think they’re alone. It’s for everyone.”
“There was a lot of rehearsal involved. When it came to actual super speed flight, it was mostly belly pan work. Belly pan is the mold for the front of a person’s body and you lie in it and a special Gimbal (a mechanical device that rocks and pivots and allows the rotation of a person or object) moves you. There’s a guy in a green suit moving it on Zack’s direction. I just have to imagine what it’s like to fly. We had lots of help from Zack’s imagination attached to it. It was his direction. There was also a lot of wirework, which we did during the whole stunt process. That was incredibly complex and the (stunt) guys tested it amazingly. A guy called Jim Churchman just did a fantastic job on the wires. The most fun part for me as far as the flying goes was that I got to be 40 feet up in the air and sort of just completely out of control. Well, I actually was in someone else’s control, thank goodness. That was the stuff that made me feel like Superman.”
Would he play Superman in the “Justice League” Movie in Development
“Of course. I’m very much open to it, but I have no idea what the plans are. I’m not privy to that information.”