The entertainment industry is filled to the brim with actors. We often hear about Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Scarlett Johansson or Tom Cruise: Actors praised either for their talent, public image, or looks. However, for every Tom Cruise or Hanks, there are people like Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill: Good actors who haven't found the right vehicle for their careers and get easily lost in the constant stream of entertainers.
Specifically, Henry Cavill has had a really tough time becoming a proper movie star. He's acted alongside Bruce Willis, starred in The Man from U.C.L.E. and is playing Superman in DC's ambitious cinematic universe. That sounds good when you put it like that but the reality is The Cold Light of Day (the movie where he plays Bruce Willis' son) was a critical and commercial flop, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. received an above-average rating and Cavill's performance was received positively, but it was barely a blip on the radar for general audiences. And, to top it all off, his version of the Man of Steel is one of the most controversial ones in an already not-well-received movie universe.
A few months ago, Dany Garcia (the manager responsible for turning Dwayne Johnson into an absolute star in Hollywood) announced she would be representing Cavill through Instagram:
And recently, during an interview with Newsweek, Garcia talked about Henry and his future in the ever-evolving world of movies:
“Henry has a big appetite. We’ve been in a five-month period of time where he’s re-strategizing, acquiring property [for his production company Promethean], he’s filming [Justice League] now, he’s in development for the Superman standalone… he’s beginning to expand that world. It’s beautifully teed up. In a year from now, or two years from now, he’s going to be a force globally.”
So, now that things are expected to be better for Henry, working with Dany Garcia, let's take a look at what Henry Cavill's challenges and what he needs to finally shine on the big screen:
The Face Gets You In The Door But It Also Keeps You In A Box
Cavill is an excellent actor with loads of talent. Which is why watching his career has been frustrating, as it always feels like he's scared to allow his talent to take him all the way — or he's been cast in roles where he's been told that the focus has to remain on his face as much as his skill. It seems counterintuitive to say, but part of the problem is that he's so classically handsome and good-looking that he's almost too good-looking.
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It's similar to the problem Brad Pitt experienced early on in his career, when his stunning, golden god looks kept getting him cast in pretty boy roles. He and his team quickly realized that he needed to break far out of that box and allow his acting to shine rather than his face or risk being typecast forever. Hence him taking weird, grungy roles like Kalifornia, Twelve Monkeys, and Se7en in between roles where his looks were front and center with A River Runs Through It, Interview with the Vampire, and Legends of the Fall.
Henry Cavill is a good actor. His charisma shines, even when having the unenviable task of portraying a Superman that looks like he got his lunch money stolen every day. He's shown us his potential in movies like The Cold Light of Day and Man from U.N.C.L.E. In the latter, he brings to life one of the most likable and charming spies in recent memory.
With this movie, Cavill finally seemed to become more confident with his acting. Unfortunately, he seemed to take a step backward with Batman V Superman. This fluctuation in his work has been the cause of him being disregarded as just another pretty face in Hollywood. But he can change that.
He Must Stop Taking A Back Seat And Being So Polite
Henry Cavill's most criticized aspect of his portrayals in general is that he looks wooden. The problem is that in the majority of his roles, he doesn't seem to be in control of his portrayal. Cavill's problem is his fear of taking charge of what he wants to bring to the screen. Some of the most celebrated actors are celebrated because they aren't afraid to portray what they want. For example, if it weren't for Jack Nicholson, we wouldn't have the iconic "Here's Johnny!" scene in The Shining. If it weren't for Heath Ledger knowing what he wanted for his version of the Clown Prince of Crime and executing it in The Dark Knight, we wouldn't have the amazing, seminal version we now hold in such high regard.
It certainly didn't help that he ended up taking a backseat to Ben Affleck's Batman in what was supposed to be Cavill's own sequel. Being perpetually dogged with the rumor that it was because Affleck shone on screen while Cavill fell flat also hurt. He needs to be a stand-out, not forgettable. It's all well and good to be polished and perfect, but putting it bluntly, Cavill needs to stop being so damn polite and start getting a little messy. Messy is memorable. We may laugh at anecdotes like this, but it's not actually a good thing for him that he went unrecognized:
And while it is a challenge, Henry has the talent to pull it off. The man was almost cast as James Bond instead of Daniel Craig: That tells me the people in charge saw he could play the most sophisticated, engaging, and charming spy of them all. The best place to start for him is with Superman. He's portrayed the superhero in two movies already and, going by Dany Garcia's reputation and her time already working with him, I wouldn't be surprised if we see a much more confident and likable Clark Kent than before as Cavill continues to grow more comfortable in the role and carve out a measure of power for himself in Hollywood. This should be a jumping off point for other roles with his new confidence, however...
Even If He Becomes Comfortable With Superman, He Shouldn't Depend Entirely On Him
Depending entirely on a superhero role can be a big mistake for actors that want a healthy career. Now amp it up times ten with actors playing Superman. This is one of the most iconic roles you can portray. Richard Donner, director of Superman (1978) stated that he didn't want a known actor as the Man of Steel, as audiences would just point and say, "That's Robert Redford flying around."
The same applies to someone that's already been Superman: We've seen great actors like Brandon Routh and Tom Welling have an exceptionally hard time establishing a post-Superman career because they were largely unknown before the role but became identified so strongly with it after.
Fortunately, the movie business is changing and audiences are much more acceptable of actors that have taken on iconic characters to portray other individuals on the big screen. Cavill and his team should take advantage of the times we're living in and get him in roles where he can embrace his talent and charisma by gaining more mainstream exposure as an actor outside of comic book movies while interspersing those roles with some solid indie flicks or awards season-bait films.
Yes, not relaxing after landing a once-in-a-lifetime role like Superman is a difficult thing to do: It's a successful part that will get you recognized and get your face on a lunchbox. However, the majority of the regular moviegoing audience have shown us something over the years: They are not loyal.
In the future, people will move on to the next big movie genre and superheroes will, sadly, most likely not be the monster hits they are today; they will be a thing of the past (at least until they come back into style again). For proof, we only have to look back ten years ago to when liking superheroes would get you branded as a weirdo and people thought of them as childish.
Henry should therefore not feel safe by having Superman as his biggest role. Being an icon for children and people around the world is great, but he should balance that by having a more active career. That would prevent a hard fall into cinematic obscurity by being known mostly as the Man of Steel.
If Utilized Correctly, His Talent Can Get Him Far
Being a famous actor boils down to public acceptance: How interesting are you to your audience? It's fair to say that most of us have gone to watch a movie solely because our favorite star was in it. These are celebrities that are being constantly sold to us through their daily lives, relationships and families — if "star power" truly were dead, celebrities would not have carefully orchestrated PR plans for their career. However, if the celebrity or actor in question is talented and charismatic, boosting their public perception isn't hard at all. Fortunately, Henry isn't lacking in any of the aforementioned departments.
Have you seen Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson lately? I'm sure you have, he's everywhere. With over 60 million followers on Instagram and exactly a gazillion movies with him as the lead coming out in the next five years, it's proof of how far the right manager and the right game plan for your career can get you.
So, yes, Henry Cavill is an amazing actor. He has everything to succeed in Hollywood. Now hopefully, Dany Garcia's new management will help him to finally embrace his talent and get him as far as he deserves.