It took Henry Cavill far longer than expected to complete his journey from Krypton to Earth. Years after the British actor first circled the role of Superman, he finally landed the part of the Man of Steel in Zack Snyder’s reboot of the storied comic franchise.
It was, indeed, a circuitous path for Cavill, involving brushes with other heroes and the planet’s most swoon-worthy vampire. He’s been this close to becoming a breakout Hollywood star a staggering number of times, but until now he was unable to seal the deal. Now his life is about to change in a big way. As we applaud Cavill for winning the part, let’s take a look back at the ups and downs he endured before signing on to play the world’s most iconic man in tights.
Though he was mostly known as a stage actor, Cavill’s name cropped up in “Superman” conversations following director Brett Ratner’s stated desire to cast an unknown in the title role of his in-the-works reboot. Ratner also had a strong interest in future “White Collar” star Matthew Bomer, but the studio pushed him in the direction of established talent like Jude Law and Josh Hartnett. It didn’t matter, though: Ratner left the project early the next year.
McG came aboard to replace Ratner and began to search, like Ratner, for an unknown actor to play Superman. Cavill actually ended up landing the role.
“I was attached to the McG ’Superman’ movie,” he explained to MTV News in 2009. But McG’s version of the film never came to pass and Cavill once again missed out on the opportunity to play the Man of Steel.
That same year, following rumors that Cavill was being considered for the role of Batman in Christopher Nolan’s reboot, Christian Bale won the role of the Caped Crusader.
After McG’s departure from “Superman,” Bryan Singer hopped into the director’s chair and targeted an unknown actor. But the actor wasn’t Cavill. Instead, Brandon Routh won the lead role.
“[The McG and Singer versions] were two different movies,” Cavill explained in ’09. “So it wasn’t so much of a sting because it was like, ’Oh, I got [the role],’ and then the movie just didn’t happen.”
Cavill wouldn’t have been faulted for avoiding any contact with iconic film characters, but he kept pushing. In ’05, he screen-tested for the role of James Bond in “Casino Royale.” But the part went instead to Daniel Craig, and Cavill, perhaps, was left with his confidence shaken, not stirred.
By this point, Cavill had mostly appeared in low-profile films like the direct-to-video “Hellraiser: Hellworld” and in supporting roles in higher-profile fare like “Tristan & Isolde.” But the guy got a break when he was cast in the Showtime series “The Tudors,” opposite Jonathan Rhys Meyers. The series enjoyed a successful run, lasting four seasons and earning a Golden Globe nomination in 2007 for best drama.
Cavill had also reportedly been “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer’s top pick to play Edward Cullen, but at the end of ’07, the role went to Robert Pattinson. A few years later, we asked Cavill how close he had actually come to playing the vampire. “I’ve heard this, but I haven’t heard from Stephenie,” Cavill told us . “I haven’t spoken to her personally, and I haven’t spoken to the producers.”
Rumor has it that Cavill was competing for the role of Hal Jordan in the long-gestating big-screen adaptation of “Green Lantern.” And — surprise, surprise — after losing out on Batman and Superman, Cavill failed to land the role. Instead, Ryan Reynolds signed on to play Jordan.
At long, long last, the guy who missed out on playing some of pop culture’s best known characters officially signs on to play Superman.
“In the pantheon of superheroes, Superman is the most recognized and revered character of all time, and I am honored to be a part of his return to the big screen,” Snyder said in a statement. “I also join Warner Bros., Legendary and the producers in saying how excited we are about the casting of Henry. He is the perfect choice to don the cape and S shield.”