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Russell Crowe Changed Henry Cavill’s Life Before Man of Steel

Russell Crowe Changed Henry Cavill's Life Before Man of Steel


  • Missed opportunities shaped Henry Cavill’s career, from being considered too young for Bond to missing out on Edward Cullen.
  • Russell Crowe’s role as Jor-El in
    Man of Steel
    reunited him with Cavill after a chance encounter that changed Cavill’s life.
  • Cavill’s admiration for Crowe dates back to the Oscar-winning
    , inspiring him to pursue a career in acting.

Henry Cavill has had an extremely eventful career, in which he has received as much publicity for roles that he missed out on as he has for the roles that he’s played. In 2004, the actor was selected by director McG to play Superman in McG’s planned Superman film, titled Superman: Flyby. However, after McG left the project, Superman: Flyby was canceled altogether and eventually transformed into the 2006 film Superman Returns with Brandon Routh in the title role.

In 2005, Cavill became the prime candidate to replace Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in the 2006 film Casino Royale. However, while Casino Royale director Martin Campbell was keen on having him play Bond, the producers of the James Bond film series felt that Cavill, who was 23 when Casino Royale was released, was too young to play Bond and went with Daniel Craig, who is approximately 15 years older.

In 2007, Cavill was considered too old to play Edward Cullen in The Twilight Saga despite the fact that Stephenie Meyer, the author of the series, described the actor in her blog, who was 25 when the first Twilight film was released in 2008 with Robert Pattinson as the lead, as her perfect Edward. The prominent role that fate has played in the actor’s career originated in 2000 when a fateful encounter between a teenage Cavill and one of his acting idols, Russell Crowe, altered his destiny. In fact, the actor has proclaimed to GQ that the epic Ridley Scott film Gladiator is his favorite movie of all time, but the history between Crowe and Cavill goes way back.

Russell Crowe Gave Henry Cavill Career Advice

In the spring of 2000, Henry Cavill was a 16-year-old student at the Stowe School, a boarding school in Stowe, England, when Russell Crowe arrived to film a scene from the action thriller Proof of Life, in which Cavill was employed as a background extra. During a break in filming at the school, Crowe took notice of the young student, who was playing rugby outside the school with several of his fellow students. In 2013, Crowe told CNN:

“There was a rugby match being played in the background, and there was one kid on that film who was quite dominant and fluid, and so he caught my eye. In between shots, that kid came over and talked to me. All his questions were about acting.”

When Cavill approached Crowe outside the boarding school, he told him that he was considering becoming an actor and asked Crowe what the life of an actor and star was like. Recalling this meeting in 2013, Cavill said:

“I walked up to him, stuck my hand out, and said, ‘Hi. My name’s Henry. I am considering becoming an actor. Any tips? What’s it like? He said, ‘Well, you know, the pay is great, but sometimes they don’t treat you so good.”

Crowe’s Oscar-Winning Performance in Gladiator Changed Cavill’s Life

The brief first meeting between Henry Cavill and Russell Crowe happened around the time of the release of the 2000 epic historical drama film Gladiator, for which Crowe received his first and only Academy Award. A couple of days after Crowe left the boarding school, he sent the actor a package, which included an Australian rugby jersey, a CD from the Crowe-led Australian rock group 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, and a picture of Crowe in Gladiator with an inscription: “Dear Henry, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Russell.”

Cavill turned 17 on May 5, 2000, when Gladiator was released in North America. One week later, Gladiator was released in England, where he saw the film for the first time in a theater with his English class. He was captivated by the film’s craftsmanship and Crowe’s powerful titular performance as Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius. While Cavill had decided to pursue a career in acting before the release of Gladiator, his first viewing of Gladiator was a formative experience for the actor, who made his screen acting debut in the 2001 thriller film Laguna. Cavill said that Gladiator made him appreciate cinema’s extraordinary potential and power and realize how much he wanted to be a part of cinema. In a 2022 interview, he told Deadline:

“I was watching [
] with other students, rather than going by myself, and we got to discuss the movie afterward. There was more of a breakdown as to what was happening and why we liked the movie. I love that period of history anyway, and the way
presented it was engaging and fun, and it made me think ‘That’s the kind of stuff I want to do.’”

Man of Steel Reunited Cavill and Crowe

Following their initial meeting in 2000, Henry Cavill and Russell Crowe had no further contact with each other for approximately 12 years. Their reunion occurred in 2012 while filming the 2013 superhero film Man of Steel, in which Crowe plays Jor-El, the biological father of Cavill’s Superman.

Needless to say, neither Cavill nor Crowe could have predicted in 2000 that fate would have brought them together for the making of a blockbuster film in which they would play father and son. The reunion between the actors took place in a gym in Illinois, where Man of Steel was partially filmed. Said Crowe:

“He [Cavill] said, ‘Do you remember [who] came and talked to you [about acting]?’ I said, ‘Yes. I do remember that. What did I say? He said, ‘Well, they pay you pretty well but treat you like s**t. I said, ‘Yes, Henry, I did say that. Good to see you.’”

Moreover, while neither actor will appear in the upcoming Gladiator sequel, Gladiator 2, the pair are linked by their shared relationship with the film, which brought Crowe screen immortality and inspired Cavill to follow in Crowe’s footsteps. Man of Steel is streaming on Max, while Gladiator is streaming now on Paramount+.

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