From Man Of Steel to Man From U.N.C.L.E
Henry Cavill sheds his 'perfect' Superman image to play cheeky spy Napoleon Solo. M meets the leading man in the latest thriller
With his charismatic presence and leading man looks, it was just a matter of time before Henry Cavill became a movie star.
Though he was passed over for James Bond as he was too young, and then for Edward Cullen in The Twilight Saga movies because he was too old, the British hunk eventually landed Superman in 2013's Man Of Steel, and was on his way.
The 32-year-old's latest film is The Man From U.N.C.L.E., based on the 60s television show.
Cavill plays CIA agent Napoleon Solo, complete with American accent and vintage wardrobe.
The Guy Ritchie-directed spy actioner, which also stars Armie Hammer as his KGB counterpart, Illya Kuryakin, and Alicia Vikander as the female lead, sees the trio joining forces to battle a mysterious criminal organisation and save the world from nuclear disaster.
The movie, which opens here on Sept 3, is a fun romp made in beautiful locations and showcases everything that made that decade cool - the music, art and fashion.
We meet at the Claridge's hotel in London to talk about the film and when he is asked to compare Napoleon Solo to Superman, Cavill laughs.
He says to M: "One thing which Guy said during shooting was, 'Wow, Henry, I think people are going to actually like you in this movie'.
"There's something about Superman, he is so perfect and so nice and so earnest that people don't necessarily like that, and they want to see some flaws and they want to see some personal failure and they want to see some mischievousness or something which is a bit more like them."
He adds: "Napoleon would be, like, where is my next suit and can I afford truffles next time and what operation am I going on and is it life-threatening?
"He does what he has to and enjoys every step of the way."
Not that Cavill is complaining about being best known as the Man of Steel.
"Superman is like playing an icon. Because of playing him, people all of a sudden listen to me and all of a sudden, I have indie scripts coming to the door because they want to have their movie financed by having Superman in it. It definitely has changed my life and it's wonderful to still be part of that franchise."
Cavill is now part of another big-budget movie.
He had never heard of the original The Man From U.N.C.L.E. before getting the script and he still hasn't watched the TV version because he wanted to create his own version of Napoleon Solo.
He bonded with his co-stars and Ritchie early on when they all got together to rehearse.
"We went down to Guy's house in the country and there was a lot of firewood-chopping going on, with glasses of wine as well, which probably isn't a good idea - to get drunk and chop firewood at the same time."
He especially enjoyed wearing the period costumes and surprisingly confesses to a love for fashion - especially "a good three-piece suit".
The new face of Dunhill Black fragrance says: "I recently discovered that Dunhill makes amazing suits.
"I wore one recently to the National Fundraising Awards and it is hands down one of the best things I have ever worn. I could probably live in it and sleep in it and so that is probably the one thing in my wardrobe that I could never do without...
"If I could wear a three-piece suit every day without looking like an idiot because I had no reason to, then I would, one hundred per cent."
He had never heard of this 60s TV show until now
If you had to name an actor born with a silver spoon in his mouth, it would probably be Armie Hammer, great-grandson of US oil tycoon Armand Hammer.
Add to that good looks, a healthy movie career and a beautiful family and the 28-year-old Los Angeles native seems to have it all.
Since his scene-stealing turn as the Winklevoss twins in 2010's The Social Network, he has appeared in several high-profile movies, including J. Edgar (2011) opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and The Lone Ranger (2013) alongside Johnny Depp.
The thoroughly likeable heart-throb had his wife and nine-month-old baby girl with him at the Claridge's hotel in London, where we learnt five things about the leading man from The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Like Henry Cavill, Hammer had never heard of the TV show
"I thought The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was the craziest name for a movie I had ever heard and I was, like, that doesn't even make sense grammatically and how is a man from uncle?"
Hammer enthusiastically did all the stunts he was allowed to
"We got to do a lot of stuff with motorcycles and cars from the 1960s. I felt bad for Henry in those suits trying to do all the stuff. But we had a great stunt team and they did some things that even if I had five years of training I probably couldn't do. One guy drove a car on water. There was no special effects and they really just drove a car across a lake. I did quite a bit of my own motorcycle stunts because I have been riding motorcycles my whole life."
His Russian accent came from YouTube
"You can find so many videos of native Russian speakers speaking English. And you can listen and go, that vowel, he said it the same way that she said it, so I should probably say it like that. And then that consonant, the way they say the letter T, it sounds pretty ubiquitous in a Russian sort of accent so I will use that as well."
He would make "s*****" spy
"I am not a very good secret keeper and I am probably way too tall to blend into a crowd.
Movie spies are fun and they get the girl and they get the motorcycle and they get the cars, and they get the suits and the guns and the whole thing.
But I think real spies probably sit in a room eating cold food, waiting for their little shortwave radio to give them a secret message so that they can go take a picture of one thing and then go back to their room. And they sit there for another couple of weeks and that sounds awful. I would hate that."
He shuns the limelight whenever he can
"I don't live a very public life. I rarely leave my house unless I have to, and it's with my family. I have never, ever had my picture taken by the paparazzi because - I will be perfectly honest with you - they are waiting for people to call them and go 'hey, I am going to be here' or 'hey, I will be at the beach, so come take my picture'. And if you don't do that, they don't follow you.
"I am not cheating on my wife with a co-star and I am not going to the coolest clubs, so I am not very exciting to take pictures of. I am not here because I want to be famous. I am here because I honestly love making movies more than anything in the world."