Man of Steel: Henry Cavill on the “daunting” experience of playing Superman

"I didn’t want to focus on any external pressure because if I did, it may have crushed me and had a negative effect on my performance"

He’s at the centre of a hectic promotional tour for his summer blockbuster, Man of Steel, but it turns out actor Henry Cavill has always been a fan of the superhero he plays on the silver screen. “Pretty much every kid’s a fan of Superman at one stage or another and I was no different,” he revealed at last night’s Leicester Square premiere.

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Although portraying a character with such a dedicated following certainly has its pitfalls, especially dealing with the weight of expectation that comes with any Superman adaptation. “I didn’t want to focus on any external pressure,” explained Cavill, “because if I did, it may have crushed me and had a negative effect on my performance.”

So was the experience a positive one? “It was very exciting and a wonderful opportunity. Daunting only in the sense that it was going to involve so much work.”

And while Cavill is, of course, following in the footsteps of Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain and Brandon Routh, he is the first Britsh actor to take on the role of Clark Kent. “It’s an honour to be the first at anything, especially something positive,” he said, before admitting, “but it’s not about being British, really. It’s just about being an actor and having a great opportunity and a great story.”

Speaking of great stories, the young actor went on to recall the moment he met his co-star Russell Crowe (who plays Superman’s father Jor-El) as a schoolboy back when he was studying at Stowe School:

“He was filming a scene from Proof of Life and I was an extra – I walked up to say hello, asked him for some tips and whether it was worthwhile being an actor and he said, ‘Yeah, they pay you well and sometimes they don’t treat you so well,’ and then two days later I got a picture of him in Gladiator saying, ‘Dear Henry, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, Russell.’ It’s been quite a journey.”

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Man of Steel is released in UK cinemas on Friday 14 June