By Zachary Sosland | Looper via PrideNation
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.