The British actor with a soldier’s discipline, a gentleman’s demeanor and a high tolerance for “extreme punishment” opens up about ‘The Witcher’ season 2, ‘Highlander,’ his Superman and ‘Mission Impossible’ futures — and the elusive spy role directors insist he was “born to play.”
Henry Cavill stands in a Miami hotel room looking like a comic book drawing made real. He’s 6-foot-2 but seems taller because he’s so broad. His muscles stretch an ordinary camel-colored knit shirt into a bulky superhero outfit. “I’m amazed how many people recognize me with a mask on,” the actor says, and it’s unclear if he’s being modest or truly doesn’t know how cinematic he looks — even his wavy jet-black hair with its jagged widow’s peak would give him away (you may recognize this hairline from films such as Mission Impossible: Fallout).
Yet as we sit down for the first of our two interviews, Cavill’s brawn is quickly contrasted by his genteel demeanor that his colleagues say is typical of the 38-year-old Englishman. Take the way the Witcher actor typically starts his days on set: Cavill will select a crewmember, say hello, shake their hand and ask how their day is going. Then he’ll approach another crewmember and do the same — then another and another and …
“It’s to the point where sometimes our ADs are like, ‘OK, we have a huge crew, you can’t ask everyone,’ ” says The Witcher showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich.
Explains Cavill: “A set is often rush-rush-rush, and we forget the basic human decencies. I want people to know I respect everything they do and they’re just doing a job like I am. To me, it’s just respect and good manners.”
It’s a characteristically nonchalant answer from somebody whose approach to his work is anything but casual. From Cavill’s recent selection of roles to his work ethic to his social media engagement, his strategic deliberation reflects the hard-core gamer that he is.
He’s played Superman in a trio of DC films (which have grossed more than $2 billion), launched The Witcher franchise (Netflix’s most watched original series until Bridgerton came along) and had a scene-stealing turn in 2018’s Mission Impossible: Fallout (which brought in $800 million worldwide as the highest-grossing film in the franchise). All of this has positioned Cavill as arguably the biggest action hero in the world who isn’t a household name — yet.
Zack Snyder calls Cavill “a warrior monk.” Fallout director Christopher McQuarrie sees Cavill a bit differently: In a town full of celebrities, “Henry is a classic movie star.”
“It’s not like there was something in the water in the 1930s and ’40s that there isn’t today,” McQuarrie says. “Movie stars are not as abundant now for two simple reasons: The industry wanted and cultivated stars, and there were people ready to do the work required to be stars. Henry is in the category of somebody hell-bent on doing the work, and that work is hard.”
Cavill is certainly working more than ever, set to star in John Wick director Chad Stahelski’s reboot of the action-fantasy Highlander, reprise his role as Sherlock Holmes in the Netflix sequel movie Enola Holmes 2, and head the all-star cast of Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn’s spy thriller Argylle. And Dec. 17, The Witcher returns for season two (with Cavill having just signed a new deal paying more than $1 million per episode, sources say). There’s also never-ending speculation that Cavill might be in line to play the most highly coveted character in action cinema — James Bond.
For his part, Cavill acts vaguely perplexed by all this. “Something has changed, something has shifted,” he says of his busy coming slate. “After 21 years of hard work, I have three jobs lined up. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s my approach, maybe my value as a commodity increases being attached to things like The Witcher. Now I can really focus on the storytelling and grow from here.”
Head over to The Hollywood Reporter to read the full article!