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What Henry Cavill was like before all the fame

Henry Cavill is, in the simplest possible terms, a movie star. Maybe one of the biggest in the world right now. He's got the look, he's got the physique, he's got the roles. He's played Superman, he's Napoleon Solo in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and he's Geralt in The Witcher on Netflix. He's been in a Mission: Impossible movie, he's played Greek gods, and soon he'll even be playing Sherlock Holmes.

Of course, Cavill wasn't always a star, or even much of a public figure. He spent years as a struggling actor, just one handsome man in an industry full of them. Even before that, he was a normal teenager, like many of us were (or still are). It took a long time for him to get the parts he wanted, or to even get any parts at all. Here's what Henry Cavill was like before all the fame.

Henry Cavill was almost James Bond

Let's start with the big one: Henry Cavill narrowly missed his big break in 2005 when he lost out on the chance to play James Bond. Several actors auditioned to succeed outgoing franchise star Pierce Brosnan, including Sam Worthington, Dominic West, and Rupert Friend, but in the end Cavill came in second.

The choice came down to Daniel Craig and Cavill. While the producers and director Martin Campbell saw a lot of potential in Cavill, they decided to go with Craig. Campbell in particular thought that Cavill — age 23 at the time — was too young to play the role. Cavill seems to agree with this, and openly admits that Craig was a better fit for the role and has done a great job with it.

Cavill is still open to playing James Bond, and with Craig begrudgingly returning to the role for what looks like one last time in 2020's No Time to Die, he might get his chance. He's a far more likely choice now than David Niven ever was, and he eventually got to (kind of sort of) play Bond.

Henry Cavill attended boarding school and got homesick

Henry Cavill grew up in Jersey, an island and British territory known for its beaches. It was too small for an adventurous young man like him, and he wanted to get out. He eventually both got his wish and learned to be careful what you wish for.

His parents sent him and his four brothers to Stowe School, a prestigious boarding school, at great expense. Part of him was happy to get away from home, but another part hated the distance. He suffered from homesickness, and by his own admission "bawled on the phone to my mom four times a day." Every three weeks he'd get to go home, but "When you're 13 years old and you're emotional and you miss home, three weeks feels like a very long time — especially if you haven't got loads of mates."

This sense of isolation later informed some of Cavill's most memorable performances. His version of Superman "is essentially of a guy who has spent his whole life alone."

Henry Cavill was overweight growing up

It's hard to imagine Henry Cavill as anything but ripped. He's Superman, after all — he came to this planet perfect. Of course, Cavill's own origin story is a bit different. In his own words, "I was a chubby kid." Cavill spent much of his youth overweight. Students at his school would mock him by calling him "Fat Cavill." He blamed it on eating a lot of potato chips. Playing sports — specifically rugby, field hockey, and cricket — eventually helped him get some weight down.

In retrospect, Cavill notes two moments that saw him lose weight and get fit. The first was getting cast in The Count Of Monte Cristo in 2002 at age 17. He lost 21 pounds for the role and "wasn't Fat Cavill anymore."

The second was his audition for Bond, during which director Martin Campbell said "Looking a little chubby there, Henry," as Cavill wore a towel for a scene. Cavill acknowledged he was unprepared and knew nothing about training or dieting, and it inspired him to get better.

As a teenager, Henry Cavill met Russell Crowe

When he was 16 years old, Henry Cavill's boarding school was host to a scene from the movie Proof of Life, starring Russell Crowe fresh off Gladiator. Students at the school were excited by the prospect of a major movie star shooting a scene on their campus. Some were extras. Between takes, Cavill — who was considering a career in acting — walked over to Crowe and introduced himself.

He asked Crowe what it was like being an actor. Crowe told him about the good and the bad before adding, "But if you want to go for it, then really go for it. Commit." Cavill then protected Crowe from a crowd of autograph seekers.

Two days later, Cavill got a package in the mail from Crowe. The package included some candies from Jersey, where Cavill grew up, a CD of Crowe's band, and an autographed picture of Crowe, stating "Dear Henry, a journey of 1,000 miles begins in a single step. Russell." Cavill never asked for this and was so delighted he kept the whole package intact and kept it as a memento.

Eleven years later, the two were cast as Kal-El and Jor-El in Man of Steel and assigned the same trainer. Crowe only faintly remembered Cavill, but Cavill had the hardest time biting his tongue as to where they first met before spilling. "It's one of those moments," Crowe mused, "where you think to yourself — just what are the chances?"

Acting helped Henry Cavill value himself

Henry Cavill was once something unthinkable — unpopular. Between his weight issues and a chivalrous streak that didn't sit well with his classmates, he didn't make a lot of friends at school. He acknowledges that he could have just given up and accepted that he wasn't going to go anywhere in life. That's just not in his DNA, though, because he found what worked for him.

He earned the respect of those around him — even though they relished mocking him — through acting. He loved acting in stage plays, and it helped that he was good at it. Speaking of his early acting experiences, he stated: "Even the kids who were nasty to me at times and took pleasure in squashing me—when I finished a play, they'd say, 'Wow, you're really good.' And I was like, 'Okay, this is where I draw my strength from.' "

Henry Cavill loved sci-fi and fantasy books

Henry Cavill never read comic books growing up, though he's certainly made up for that by playing Superman. In his early years, he "read mostly historical fiction — lots of stuff set in ancient Rome and ancient Greece." He was also a fan of sci-fi and fantasy, mentioning David Gemmell and Raymond E. Feist as favorites. During his time on The Tudors, he read Robert Jordan's high fantasy Wheel of Time series. "I'd stay up until five, six in the morning reading. I couldn't put them down."

He also doesn't like reading nonfiction or stories too grounded in reality. He describes himself as a very empathetic person, and reading about realistic stressful events often takes away his escape. "As much as I do love real-life stories, they can often make you hurt in a way I'd rather not hurt."

He's still a big reader to this day. To prepare for the role of Geralt on The Witcher, he read all of the books in the series. When asked about his favorite installments, he said, "The Last Wish, because it hooked me, broke my heart, put it together, and then broke it again. And Lady of the Lake, because all its events are unbelievable. There is real magic in it."

Henry Cavill was always a gamer

It's a common misconception that Netflix's adaptation of The Witcher is based on the video game series — the show, like the games, is based on the long-running fantasy book series. Cavill also made this same mistake as well — after all, as long as he can remember, he's been a gamer.

Cavill had LAN parties with his brothers growing up, often playing against them in games like Delta Force. Half-Life was another favorite growing up. To this day, he primarily considers himself a PC gamer instead of a console guy.

He also nearly missed the call from Zack Snyder confirming he'd be Superman. Question: what could possibly be more important to Cavill than that? Answer: he was busy playing World of Warcraft. "It's cool now," he deadpanned, "that I'm Superman."

So what kind of game room does Henry Cavill, Movie Star have today? A gamer chair? Multiple monitors? Nope, it's bare bones as ever. As he said on the Rich Eisen Show, "My computer desk is in my very small living room, and it's just at the end there. That's it. Nothing special."

Henry Cavill was a restaurant host and dog walker

Like many actors, Henry Cavill needed work while waiting for his big break. He spent some time as a restaurant host in the early aughts. It was during this time he got acquainted with journalist Giana Mucci, who shared a cute story about his time before the fame.

She met Cavill in 2005 while walking her dog past the restaurant where he worked. She almost immediately nicknamed him "Hot Henry." She recalled him being both extremely kind and extremely handsome. He also took a liking to her dog, and offered his services as a dog walker on one occasion.

Mucci had a hard time getting in contact with him again when she needed a walker. Turns out he was busy overseas auditioning for the role of James Bond. For Cavill it was the result of years of work, but from Mucci's perspective, it felt like he had just become a star overnight.

Years later, Mucci met Cavill again at a press junket for Immortals — and he remembered her, asking how her dog was.

Henry Cavill was an awful bartender

Henry Cavill was a struggling actor before he was a successful actor, and he struggled in a country far from his own. There were times he couldn't afford to stay in America, and had to fly back to London. He'd save up there and fly back to Los Angeles. On one such occasion, he took up a job as a bartender in a cocktail bar by Trafalgar Square.

There was just one problem: he had no earthly clue how to make a cocktail.

He lied about it to get the job, because he needed the money that badly. In his own words: "I was awful. I said I could make them to get the job but then when it came down to it, hadn't a clue." Not so great for the regular customers, but at least some tourists were likely served a subpar cocktail by a future movie star.

Henry Cavill almost met Peter O'Toole on set

One of Henry Cavill's first notable roles was as Charles Brandon on Showtime's The Tudors. Based on the reign of Henry VIII, the show was a success for the network and saw Cavill work alongside Jonathan Rhys Meyers and a pre-Game of Thrones Natalie Dormer. The show also had many major guest stars, including Max von Sydow and Sam Neill. There was, however, one bigger guest star — and Cavill narrowly missed him.

Season two saw Henry VIII go toe-to-toe with Pope Paul III, as played by legendary actor Peter O'Toole. Working on set with one of the most legendary actors in Hollywood was certainly a feather in Cavill's proverbial cap. After O'Toole's death, some fans of both men noted that they worked on The Tudors together.

Cavill, however, never got to actually work with him, much less meet him. He told Interview Magazine, "No, never got a chance. They had what they called the 'pope unit,' which was like a separate unit for shooting Peter. So no chance."

His parents wanted him to get a "proper degree"

Henry Cavill had an agent by the time he was 18 — and a lot of promise. That didn't stop his parents from worrying about him. A lot of actors never make it far even with an agent, and his parents had concerns about him supporting himself if this whole "movie star" thing didn't work out.

In an interview with F*** Magazine — which is improbably the name of the actual magazine, including the asterisks — Cavill said that he originally entertained going to drama school before his father said no. He told his son "go to a university, get a proper degree, and if you want to go to drama school after university, that's fine. But get a real degree so you have something to fill back on, rather than chasing the acting dream without going anywhere."

Ultimately it didn't matter. He made a career out of acting, no fallback plan needed. But it's a good sentiment, and Cavill acknowledges that. "From my father's perspective, he wanted to make sure that his son had a livelihood and can take care of himself and his own when the time comes." Either way, it's good advice — not everyone is going to be the next Henry Cavill.

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