Henry Cavill: portrait of a wannabe killer

The pop psychology behind Superman’s desire to be a marine.

Henry Cavill dreamed of being a marine after he was bullied
Soldier boy Cavill would have followed his brothers into the army if it hadn’t been for Superman. Image Portrait Cindy Ord/GettyImages

Lifting cars off crushed bodies and shooting spies to the sound of clunky one-liners – a piece of piss for Henry Cavill when he’s Superman or a bloke from UNCLE.

But the actor would have chased a life of bloodshed for real if the Man Of Steel role hadn’t cemented his place in Hollywood.

His older brother Niki has an MBE for his service as a Lieutenant Colonel in the British army, while another of his three brothers, Piers, was an army captain.

Cavill – now signed to play Superman in a further three films – told Loaded, “My brother Niki is a bit of a ninja and I probably would have joined the Royal Marines if acting hadn’t worked out. That would have been my target.”

“I was bullied, but no-one could make fun of me when I was in character on stage”

Pop psychology also lies behind Cavill’s wish to be a soldier: army life would have allowed him to work out the anger he had for schoolyard tormentors who bullied him as a kid.

He’s told before he was taunted at Stowe School in Buckinghamshire for being “a fat kid with tits”. Bullies also nicknamed him a “lemon” because he couldn’t get a girlfriend.

Ironically, Cavill owes his life as a millionaire actor to his tormentors.

He said he started acting to escape his attackers, then gained their grudging acceptance by being a stand-out in school plays.

Cavill added, “I was bullied, but no-one could make fun of me when I was playing a character on stage, because it was what I was told to do. The bullies told me, ‘Actually, you were quite good in that’. It felt so good that I thought acting was probably something I should pursue.”

Henry Cavill with his ex-girlfriend Gina Carano
Changed man On the red carpet with ex-girlfriend Gina Carano, a long way from being the “fat kid with tits”. Image Picture Ian Gavan/Getty Images

British-born Cavill, who played CIA agent Napoleon Solo in Guy Ritchie’s The Man From UNCLE, has obviously had the last laugh – girlfriends have included horse rider Ellen Whitaker and actress Gina Carano and he’s worth an estimated £10million.

Russell Crowe famously helped Cavill on his path to stardom when the Gladiator star visited Stowe School to film his movie Proof Of Life in 2000.

The 16-year-old Cavill asked Crowe for advice on breaking into acting and later received a parcel containing sweets, Vegemite and a note from Crowe that read, ‘Dear Henry – every journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step’.

Cavill, 32, who will soon be on multiplex screens as Clark Kent in Batman V Superman said, “I think I’m probably creeping up towards the 2,000-mile mark of that journey now. I’m on the next portion of the journey now… to the mountain range.”

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Loaded freelance reporter Ian Wade writes about music and TV for newspapers and websites. He is also a music publicist. Follow him on Twitter at @WadeyWade