Henry Cavill on Playing Hard and Staying Sharp
We didn’t think it was possible, but Henry Cavill is somehow more perfect than we could have even dreamed. BALANCE recently spent an afternoon in the company of the Hollywood superstar and came away spellbound. We knew the 36-year-old had a lot going for him – A-lister, physique of a Greek god and now, a businessman, having become a shareholder in No1 Rosemary Water (more on that later) – yet what really shines through is Henry’s decency and integrity.
“I love to make people feel good, to bring a smile to someone’s face,” he says. “Or to see somebody dry their eyes, see them perk up and take on the world – that is a gift to me.”
It may sound like he’s selling the American dream, but this Briton is as genuine as they come. Think of your brainy best mate; the calm and collected member of your pals to whom you all turn for advice and inspiration. The sort of chum who will pick you up, dust you down and set you on your way. “If I can have a positive influence on someone’s day, great,” he continues. “They can pass it on and someone else can have a positive day on top of that.”
BALANCE has long admired Cavill, not just because he’s a bona fide movie star, but also thanks to his life-affirming Instagram account, the fact that his colleagues praise his work ethic and likeability, and he has never let a setback define him. Rather, he has seen every knock on his career path as a chance for growth. We might not all be Henry Cavill, but his positivity is something we can all be inspired by.
“I try not to think of negatives, or what someone else may consider a failure or a miss professionally speaking,” he explains. “I just think of them as another stepping stone or a part of the journey, because it can’t all be sunshine and gloriousness; there have to be darker days for you to appreciate the better days. And I’ve been very fortunate to have good people around me: people I can trust.
“Even when things are bad, you can make good out of them. It’s a matter of trying to find the goodness there, and reminding yourself that it’s about being happy. It’s not necessarily about achieving this or that, because the goalposts will always change. Years ago it was all about being [James] Bond, and I didn’t get that. Then I became Superman. And now I’m the Witcher, and The Witcher is the biggest streaming show on the planet. It’s like, oh, OK, so…”
Henry picks up a spoon and moves it three inches while adding: “I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, apart from the very obvious, like this spoon ended up there because I moved it. That was the reason, not because the universe dictated it so.
I do believe that just because one door closes, it doesn’t mean that five doors didn’t open up in the process. It’s about keeping your eyes open and sharp so that when you do get kicked in the head by life you go, ‘All right, then. What else am I missing that has just happened as an opportunity?’ That has always been my approach. It’s easier said than done because you will be down in the dumps sometimes. So it’s about dragging yourself out of there and trying to find the positive.”
He adds: “I don’t let things I’ve achieved define me. I define me in whichever way I wish. When I get married one day and hopefully have kids, they aren’t going to give a flip about me having played Superman! They’re going to be a baby which needs my input to make it into a fully formed human. That’s all that really matters, not: ‘He did that and that and that.’ You go to places around the world and it’s refreshing and rewarding when people don’t give a…” Henry deliberately doesn’t swear (we told you he was perfect). He goes on, “People look at you and go, ‘You were Superman? Oh. Cool. Can you drive a tractor?’ It’s all relative. I bring it back to happiness. It’s about making this define you. Not anything else.”
BALANCING THE MIND AND BODY
Henry’s incredible workout routines have been well-documented, so BALANCE would love to know what he does for mental wellbeing.
“Sometimes working out can help,” he says. “And I do find – this sounds silly – but going for a walk makes a massive difference. My mother would always swear by this and still walks for miles. It’s a great way of building a rhythm for the body so the brain can start working. If you have a problem, something you’re trying to work out or something that is really getting to you, instead of sitting on the sofa or screaming into the bathwater, go for a walk. A rhythm will be created and you will be able to work out what the problem is and be more at peace. It is to do with the rhythm you create from walking, I believe.”
Henry describes his mum as “extraordinary” and says from her he learned “integrity, honesty and happiness within yourself is very important. She has always advocated: ‘Do what makes you happy because you only live once.’
“When I was a young boy in school, acting and considering drama school instead of university, she was the first person to say, ‘Absolutely, do it! Yes. If that’s what you love doing, be happy.’ You can spend your life with all the degrees under the sun and be unhappy because you didn’t do what you wanted to do. If you’re going to be happy running a bar in the Caribbean, then great, that’s all you need to do. She has always been an advocate of happiness first, everything else second.”
Videogames – specifically, the Total War series on PC – also play a key role in helping Henry escape. “It’s a double-edged blade, that one,” he says. “There are times when it is a great switch-off from the world. As soon as I step foot out of the door, I am working. So for me, at home, rather than sitting twiddling my thumbs thinking, ‘Man, I wish I could go outside,’ I lock into a game on my PC, play that and switch off.
“At the same time, I am very competitive and play everything on the hardest level I possibly can because I do like the challenge. So I get frustrated as well; there have been times when I’ve been up at 3am or 4am going, ‘I’m not going to beat it today. I need to go to sleep and stop winding myself up because it’s having the exact opposite effect of what I wanted.’ It works both ways.”
HE’S NO 1
Another form of escapism has come in the form of No1 Rosemary Water. Rather than be a brand ambassador, such was his voracious thirst for the product that he’s become a shareholder, having met founders Bonita and David Spencer-Percival.
“I was planning on making my own water,” Henry explains. “I was researching springs around the UK, pH values and what that means for the body, and wanted this water to be environmentally responsible and ethical. Then I heard about David and Bonita and No1 Rosemary Water. I tried it and aside from the unique taste, which I really liked, I found myself craving it. I became genuinely addicted, to the point of being quite possessive.
“Then I had the opportunity to meet David and Bonita. I wanted to know that it was what it was claiming to be and wasn’t just a flavoured water. David answered all the questions – I really grilled him and wanted to know all the science behind everything. He answered everything at length. It was then that I realised what my body had been responding to. I do tend to keep myself healthy and fit, and so everything I put into my body responds very quickly. With rosemary water I felt a certain sharpness, so we started our partnership.”
Henry explains how trials show that “if you take the extract – which is the stronger, concentrated version of what the water is – 20 minutes later the cognitive part of the brain is 15 per cent more active.” He continues, “I found myself in The Witcher season one, working crazy hours, getting up at 3.30am. The only time I’d have to learn my lines was in the trailer in the morning during my two-hour make-up. That, under normal circumstances, could be difficult because we’re not talking movies where you might shoot up to three pages a day. We’re talking TV, where you’re shooting six to 12 pages a day. I’m also writing up plans to take to set, or changing stunt stuff or redesigning ideas. And that was all made possible because I felt sharper. It wasn’t that heavy fog you have when you’re knackered. Rosemary water really did have that effect. Lines were sticking in my head.”
It sounds as though No1 will continue to serve Henry well. After all, this is an actor at the peak of his powers and there’s no let-up in the schedule. Work on The Witcher season two is underway and Enola Holmes is out later this year, with Henry playing Sherlock to Millie Bobby Brown’s Enola, the great detective’s child sister.
“It was such an opportunity to play a supporting character like that to Millie, who is an extraordinary actor,” he says. “The people – Sam Claflin [as Mycroft Holmes] and director Harry Bradbeer – were wonderful to work with. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
“Otherwise everything else is more of a watch-this-space moment. My problem is, every job I’m doing tends to be top-secret and I can’t talk about it until it comes out. I end up being very boring in interviews because I can’t talk about anything.”
It’s the only time BALANCE will disagree with him. We’ve been privileged to meet some of the most fascinating people on the planet, and Henry is a strong contender – pun intended – for No1.
You can order No1 Rosemary Water at no1botanicals.com
Photography Michael Schwartz