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.”
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.”
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