It’s been a long, hard road for Henry Cavill to becoming the next actor to don the tights for the iconic “Superman.” While Hollywood tests many young actors for upcoming franchises, no one has been put through the the audition process more rigorously and for as many high profile gigs as Cavill. He’s been on the radar for several major league tentpoles over the years always losing out to another name or having the project fall apart. However, it looks the stars have finally aligned for the young actor as he’s netted the part of Clark Kent/Superman in the Zack Snyder directed, Christopher Nolan produced reboot of Warner Bros.‘ cornerstone comic pic.
While Cavill may be new name to most, for Warner Bros., he’s an actor they’ve long had an eye on with his name cropping up for numerous projects under the WB banner (and elsewhere too). Clearly, they’ve seen blockbuster potential in the actor for a long time and now he’ll finally get to step up to the plate and show us what he’s got. But we’ll have to wait until we see if the instincts of the suits over at the studio were right. For now, we look back on the almost-there franchise Cavill flirted with and imagine what-could-have-been if he was cast.
1. “Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire“: In late 2003, following Cavill’s performance in “The Count of Monte Cristo,” the actor was met with a huge online push — petitions and all — for him to be cast as Cedric Diggory in the developing ‘Harry Potter‘ franchise. While not exactly a reputable crowd, the whole movement is indicative of the actor’s potential to draw followers even at a young age. The role eventually went to Robert Pattinson as Cavill returned to relative obscurity.
2. “Batman Begins“: Days before the eventual casting, the shortlist was revealed for the lead of the then little known British director Christopher Nolan‘s franchise reboot “Batman Begins.” Of course, Christian Bale led the pack but actors who were reportedly up for the role included Jake Gyllenhaal, Joshua Jackson, Cillian Murphy, Eion Bailey, Hugh Dancy and — you guessed it — our boy, Cavill. All the shortlisted apparently went as far as screen testing for the role. Making a shortlist isn’t too grand an accomplishment but, in this case, we have to take in to account that then 20-year-old Cavill was shortlisted up against the 29-year-old Bale, the already big names of 22-year-old Gyllenhaal and 25-year-old Jackson and Dancy, Murphy and Bailey who were all in their late 20s. To be a decade younger than most of his competition (and presumably the casting process’ ideal candidate) and still be among the last half a dozen, he clearly made an impression on Nolan and company.
3. McG‘s aborted “Superman“: Cavill’s Batman saga was then followed by what is probably the actor’s closest shave with stardom: playing the Man of Steel. “I was attached to the McG ‘Superman’ movie,” Cavill revealed. “Then Bryan Singer came on and took the helm and he made his movie.” The actor admitted he went as far as wearing a version of the iconic Superman costume reportedly designed and created by special effects legend Stan Winston. The actor put on a brave face though noting that “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.”
4. “Casino Royale“: The next year saw another one of the most iconic roles in franchise cinema up for grabs: Bond, James Bond. And guess what? Yep. Cavill screentested for Bond and was in the running against Daniel Craig and Sam Worthington for the 007 role. But the studio ultimately thought Cavill too young for the part, and Craig got the job. You can’t say they were wrong as Craig has proved to be one of the best men to carry the numbers 007 ever, but yet another indication of Cavill’s leading man looks and chops getting him close to the finish line.
5. “Twilight“: Robert Pattinson strikes again. The novel’s scribe Stephanie Meyer advocated Cavill for the lead role of Edward early on — a role eventually taken by his old nemesis Robert Pattinson. “My favorite actor for Edward is Henry Cavill. I feel really passionately about him getting the role, and, should I ever get a chance to talk to anyone about any aspect of the movie, his name will be the first words off my tongue,” Meyer had said. Cavill later admitted to never hearing from Meyer or the film’s producers but the author later noted that the five year gap between her quote and the film’s production would have yielded him too old for the role anyway. While missing out on “Twilight” probably isn’t a bad thing, the fact Cavill was too young for Bond yet too old for “Twilight” ultimately personifies the actor’s career at the time.
6. “Green Lantern“: Had things played out differently, Cavill’s tights — CGI or otherwise — may have been green instead of blue. The actor was once again shortlisted for another big time franchise, this time, Martin Campbell‘s “Green Lantern” where he was up against Bradley Cooper and Ryan Reynolds. And again, he didn’t make the cut, with Reynolds suiting up and Cavill once again taking to the sidelines.
While Cavill has waited for his break, he hasn’t been sitting idle. He suited up for big screen outings like Matthew Vaughn‘s “Stardust” and Kevin Reynolds‘ “Tristan + Isolde.” He notched some time with Woody Allen in the helmer’s underrated and quite charming “Whatever Works” and most cable drama hounds will know Cavill best from his role as Charles Brandon in “The Tudors.” Coming up, he’ll get his biggest exposure yet before “Superman” with a leading role in Tarsem‘s sword, sandals and VFX epic “Immortals” and he’ll star opposite Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver in “JCVD” director Mabrouk El Mechri‘s thriller “The Cold Light of Day.”
Lots on the horizon from Cavill, a nearly-there actor who is finally getting his due. We can’t wait see how he looks in blue. Zack Snyder’s still-to-be-titled “Superman” will fly into theaters in December 2012.