Superman isn’t exactly an easy character to pull off. With the strength to lift two billion tons, the speed to turn back time and the laser vision to melt the toughest material, he is a character without physical flaw. The nuance to a great Superman is in the mind, where the psychology of a man who merely wants to be human lies, despite the reality of him being an all-powerful alien outsider.
After the likes of Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh have taken up the spandex and red cape, it is Henry Cavill’s depiction of the character in contemporary cinema that may well be the best cinematic version of all time. Starring for the very first time in Man of Steel in 2013, Cavill later appeared as Clark Kent in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice as well as the beloved Zack Snyder re-release of Justice League in 2021.
Though his role as Superman remains his most iconic, Cavill has also appeared in such films as The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible – Fallout and Enola Holmes, with his legacy in the industry sure to grow year by year.
Long before his time in the Justice League, however, Henry Cavill almost became Britain’s greatest spy, auditioning to be James Bond in 2006 where he came remarkably close to landing the lead role at just the age of 22.
Auditioning for the film in the US and the UK, Cavill describes to GQ how he had to perform two scenes from Sean Connery’s Bond movies, stating that the decision came down to the wire between him and Daniel Craig. “I waited to hear, and sadly it was a no. I mean, it was crazy, considering my age,” Cavill commented, understandably disappointed at missing out on the role of a lifetime.
“People say, ‘You must be so depressed that you didn’t get Bond,’” the actor adds, explaining, “Well, no, because I got as far as the screen test for Bond. There’s a lot of other people out there who are far less fortunate than me, who don’t even get through the door with their agent”.
Expressing his interest in playing Bond in the future, Cavill didn’t rule out returning to the franchise, though understood that people would simply see him as Superman and not Bond. Looking back at the situation with fondness, the actor added, “I never thought of myself as unlucky. When you aim high, it’s tough to get there unless something really fortunate happens”.
In the very same interview, Cavill described a story in which he met the New Zealand actor Russell Crowe as an extra in the movie Proof of Life. Holding a great deal of adoration for the acting icon, Cavill added that Crowe remains his favourite actor, and the 2000 movie Gladiator is his favourite film of all time.
Directed by Ridley Scott, the epic historical drama stars Crowe as a former Roman General who exacts revenge against the emperor who murders his family and sends him into slavery to be a gladiator. Also featuring the likes of Joaquin Phoenix, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris and Djimon Hounsou, Gladiator remains an iconic 21st century classic that acts as an exemplary example of a historical epic done right.