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The Untold Truth Of Henry Cavill

Comic book movie fans are likely familiar with Henry Cavill. Born in the British territory of Saint Helier, Jersey, the aspiring actor appeared in films such as 2002's The Count of Monte Cristo and 2007's Stardust before he landed a lead role on the Showtime series The Tudors

Of course, Cavill gained international stardom when he played Superman in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, the first film in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). While Cavill's performance as the Last Son of Krypton received a mixed reception from critics, he would reprise the role for 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and both versions of Justice League (the 2017 theatrical cut and the 2021 Snyder Cut).

Cavill continues to receive many movie and TV roles, including the title role in Netflix's ongoing television adaptation of the Polish book series The Witcher, but there is still much about him that many people may not know. We're here to break down little-known facts and tidbits about Henry Cavill, from his adoration of animals to some of the big roles he missed out on. 

Bullied as a kid

Shockingly enough, Henry Cavill was bullied as a child because he didn't have the dashingly good looks and chiseled features he has today. The actor told Men's Health in 2019 that classmates at his boarding school picked on him because of his weight and often called him "Fat Cavill." Cavill elaborated, "I was a chubby kid. I could've very well gone down the route of just accepting my lot in life and being like, 'I guess I'm not going to do anything.'"

Eventually, Cavill would slim down and gain more self esteem. He played sports such as rugby and began acting in school stage productions, the latter of which he credits as helping him feel more comfortable in front of others. "It actually helped me survive," said Cavill. "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.'" Who knew that the solution to Cavill's bullying would later become his profession?

Initially wanted to study ancient history

Cavill starred in a 2011 film loosely based on Greek mythology called Immortals, but he also told SFGate that he initially wanted to study ancient history. "In school I had an interest in ancient history and Egyptology in particular," said Cavill. "There was a historical fiction writer named Christian Jacq who wrote a series of books, sort of Egyptology-based, and I really enjoyed them. I thought, 'If I'm going to study something, why not make it something I really enjoy?' The idea was to get a degree in ancient history or Egyptology and have the armed forces sponsor me through university. And join the armed forces afterward."

While we all know what career path Cavill would choose, seeing him as a historian (and a handsome one at that) rather than an actor is interesting to say the least. This passion for ancient history may explain why Cavill chose to appear in Immortals, even if the film isn't entirely accurate to what is told in Greek myths. Still, this pre-existing knowledge may have helped him get into character for Theseus.

Animal advocate and bat father

The Man of Steel is also an avid supporter of animals and endangered species. In 2014, Cavill became an ambassador for the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, which created a zoo in Jersey that he visited as a kid. "What they do is close to my heart and something that deserves close attention," Cavill told the BBC. "I feel that saving the diversity of life on our planet will be seen as increasingly important in the not-too-distant future." Cavill visits the organization's 50 conservation projects around the world and frequently participates in the Durrell Challenge, a 13K run to raise money for the trust.

To further support wildlife conservation, Cavill adopted a baby fruit bat in 2015 and named him Ben after his Batman v Superman co-star. According to the trust's Cavill Conservation initiative (per Entertainment Weekly), fruit bats are on the brink of extinction, which is why this adoption is important. They also mention that adopting Ben will raise funds to protect endangered species. Ultimately, Cavill seems like he's Superman with or without the cape.

Has support dog for...fear of flying

Although flying is one of Superman's many abilities, the actor portraying him needs a support dog because he is ironically afraid of flying. TMZ shared a video in January 2015 of Cavill arriving at LAX with an Akita dog that just so happened to be wearing a service dog vest. He revealed to Good Morning Britain in July of that year the explanation behind this vest: "I like to take my dog with me as it makes things nicer." Cavill told Cosmopolitan a couple of months later that the dog's name is Kal and does not share Superman's Kryptonian name Kal-El.

Kal also appears in a video from Cavill's Men's Journal shoot in 2018 and even posed with him on a motorcycle during the shoot. "What's not great about Kal? He's my best buddy. He's stubborn. He drags a lot of attention away from me, which is excellent," Cavill explained. "He comes to set as well, and it's just having that little bit of light there for me, personally, I love it." A dog is a man's best friend, after all.

Almost played Superman in another movie

Most people may not know that Cavill could have starred in a very different Superman movie if certain events hadn't transpired. Back in 2002, J.J. Abrams turned in a draft to Warner Bros. for a movie called Superman: Flyby. Keep in mind that Abrams's most famous work at the time was the TV series Alias, so he wasn't a household name like he is now. As for directors, several were involved at one time or another, with the last one being McG, who directed the first two Charlie's Angels movies and the first two Babysitter movies.

Believe it or not, Cavill was one of the actors considered for the lead in this film and tested for the part wearing the movie's Superman costume, which was photographed and eventually leaked online. Unfortunately, Superman: Flyby never got off the ground for multiple reasons, one of which being that McG didn't want to fly to Australia, where the picture would be filmed, because he was afraid of flying. Warner Bros. instead released Superman Returns in 2006, which starred another possible Flyby lead: Brandon Routh.

When Cavill was confirmed in 2011 to play the Man of Steel in Zack Snyder's film, the actor told Entertainment Weekly, "It was wonderful to have a second stab at a job — and as a wiser, older, more experienced actor." Not everyone may not like Cavill's Superman, but at least he received another chance to prove himself as the Man of Steel.

Loves video games (sometime to a detriment)

While he may not look like it, Cavill is an avid gamer and loves to play a number of video games, such as SkyrimWorld of Warcraft, and of course the third Witcher game. While the actor has spoken multiple times about his love for video games, he elaborated on it in a 2019 interview with the British version of the men's magazine Gentlemen's Quarterly (GQ): "At home, I get to sit playing games for ridiculous amounts of hours and escape there, because going outside has the opposite effect."

Ironically, Cavill's gaming habits almost cost him the Superman gig. Conan O'Brien asked the actor in 2016 about getting the call to play the Man of Tomorrow. Cavill responded that he missed the call because he was playing World of Warcraft. "I looked across it last moment and saw Zack Snyder's name on the phone," he explained. "So I grabbed the phone and then missed it. So I called him back immediately and said, 'I'm really sorry. I was saving someone's life, and I missed your call.'...Then he gave me the news." At least Cavill still got the role.

He struggled with his American accent

Although Cavill has played several American characters throughout his career, the British actor has often struggled with an American accent. Speaking with Total Film magazine (via ComicBookMovie.com) in 2011, Cavill explained the difficulties of pulling off an American accent for a character such as Superman, who was raised as an American (even though he's from outer space). "Doing an American accent is about exercising the muscles in your throat and your mouth. Sometimes it can sound great for a long period of time, sometimes your inflection is wrong. It all depends," said Cavill. "As long as you've got a professional watching over you saying, 'You did this wrong, you did that wrong...', it can be made to seem effortless. But you still get days when it just seems to stick in your mouth."

Unfortunately, Cavill has continued to struggle with an American accent in other films such as 2015's The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. The actor admitted on the British daytime show This Morning (via The Mirror) that his American accent constantly changed throughout the first quarter of filming. At one point, he tried a Clark Gable-esque accent, but director Guy Ritchie was not a fan. Cavill still settled on some sort of American accent in the end and hopefully struggled with it less in future movies.

His brother is a Royal Marine

Henry Cavill may been played Superman, but he considers his brother Niki the real hero. The Sunday People (via The Mirror) reported in 2013 that Niki is a Royal Marine who "showed awesome bravery" during his two tours of Afghanistan where he captured a Taliban commander. Three years later, The Sun proclaimed that Niki had taken command of 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group. Formed by James Bond author Ian Fleming, this elite Royal Marine unit "conducts reconnaissance spy missions behind enemy lines and uses ­electronic warfare to confuse the other side and sap morale." 

Henry honored his brother in 2020 when he wished a happy birthday to the Royal Marines on Instagram. "Some of you may know that one of my brothers is a Royal Marine. So, I've long had a relationship with them, of sorts. Its also what I would probably be doing if the film industry hadn't got me first," wrote Cavill. "Both of these things led to me becoming an Ambassador for the Royal Marines charity quite a few years ago. An ambassadorship of which I am enormously proud." Although Henry is not a Marine, he still finds ways to help both his brother and his country.

He's a big fan of the Kansas City Chiefs

Superman was always raised in Kansas and while that American state doesn't have its own NFL team, the British actor that plays him is a big fan of the Missouri-based Kansas City Chiefs. 

While on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in 2019, Cavill explained why he liked American football and the Chiefs in particular. "So I spent a lot of time over here, obviously, and I've been watching some American football. I started to like the sport and I realized I had to choose a team, and the only way I could choose a team was with something that was never gonna change. It wasn't going to be 'my buddy likes this team or whatever it may be,'" said Cavill. "So I figured the thing which won't ever change in my life is the Superman aspect, and I figured Superman's from Kansas, people in Kansas support the Chiefs. It just all added up."

Regardless of whether Superman is actually a Chiefs fans, Cavill often supports the team on social media. When the Chiefs advanced to the Super Bowl in 2020, a Change.org petition was created for "Toss a Coin to Your Witcher," a memed song from Netflix's The Witcher, to play during the game. Although that never happened, the Chiefs did win their first Super Bowl in fifty years.

Cavill lost many major roles...including Nolan's Batman

Cavill is a successful actor today, but he had to overcome many obstacles before he could reach that point. While Cavill had two opportunities to play Superman, he was supposedly one of several actors who was shortlisted for the title role in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. Cavill clarified in a 2009 interview on Good Day, New York, however, that while he may have been considered for Batman, he never auditioned or screen-tested for the role. Cavill's name was also in the mix for Green Lantern in the 2011 film, but he obviously didn't get that part either.

Funnily enough, Cavill lost two roles to future Batman actor Robert Pattinson. He told ABC News in 2013 that he auditioned for Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire but didn't get it. Additionally, Twilight author Stephanie Meyer considered Cavill her top choice for Edward Cullen, but he was too old when production on the film began.

Although Cavill has starred in several spy movies throughout his career, he was a major contender for James Bond in Casino Royale. He even turned down a leading role in 300 because he was holding out for Bond. Unfortunately, the Casino Royale producers thought Cavill was too young for this Bond, so Daniel Craig got the part. Nevertheless, Cavill could still play Bond someday.