Henry Cavill on Training for Immortals and His 'Superman' Research for Man of Steel
11.09.11 by BJSprecher
How do you prepare yourself to portray a "strange visitor from another planet" with the powers of a god? Well, if you're British actor Henry Cavill — who is currently shooting Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, in which he plays the first and greatest superhero, Superman — you first train for months on end to play a steely-sinewed mythic mortal who fights for the gods. Then you read a lot of comic books.
In a recent interview, Cavill discussed why he worked out so long and hard to play Theseus in director Tarsem Singh's Immortals, and why he didn't study Christopher Reeve's portrayal of Superman when prepping for Man of Steel.
Cavill revealed to Collider that he ended up training much longer than he had originally anticipated for Immortals because the start date kept getting pushed back, but that the extra time "helped an enormous amount."
I was cast in, I think it was 2008 and we were supposed to start shooting in 2009. It got pushed back from spring through to starting the middle of summer which couldn’t happen, because I was on Tudors, and then to after that, to after Tudors. I started training just before I finished Tudors and then the movie got pushed back again and I thought, "Well, I’m training at this stage so I’ll keep on going." It was about six months later that we actually started shooting.
I think it helps an awful lot because the type of training which I was doing, the training which Roger Yuan, the guy who was training me, had me doing was initially circuit training type stuff, physical aesthetic type training. Then he had me learning the basics of martial arts and doing boxing training and doing knife fighting and stuff, anything sort of cardiovascular, but fun and martial-based. So, that I could apply to learning all my sword choreography when it came to the time to actually start learning it when we were there a month beforehand, before we started shooting. It really helped, it helped an enormous amount.
Already in excellent shape to play Theseus when it came time to prepare for Man of Steel, Cavill only had to have his body "fine-tuned and tweaked...to be a different sort of shape" to look the part of Superman. As for portraying Superman's personality and developing his mannerisms, Cavill said that he didn't want to be influenced by any other actors' portrayals so he stuck with the source material for inspiration: the Superman comic books.
I avoided watching anything which was someone else’s interpretation of the source material. I didn’t go back to the movies and watch them. I didn’t go back to the TV series and watch them. I didn’t want to take that and have that influence my interpretation and my performance of the character. Where the character truly belongs and where the character truly comes from is not from the movies or the TV shows; it’s from the comic books. So I went straight to the comic books and had stacks of them and just read and read and read and read and read. I enjoyed so much learning about the character in such a dense manner. The comic books were my source of material; the TV shows and movies were someone else’s interpretation and so I left that to them.
You're going to have to wait until June 14, 2013, when Man of Steel opens, to see how Cavill's body tweaks and comic book research paid off for him, but you can see how his six months of training for Immortals worked out when the movie opens this Friday.