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"I had no idea it would create such a ruckus": Henry Cavill on owning (and then losing) the world's most famous facial hair

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Bobby Palmer
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Henry Cavill

We spoke to the Mission: Impossible - Fallout actor about big muscles, big beards and James Bond

Hi Henry. Tell us about your character in Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

He’s the guy the CIA call if they want a target absolutely smashed. You know that if you call August Walker, your target is going to die.

You played Napoleon Solo in The Man From U.N.C.L.E., now you’re playing August Walker. Do spies ever have normal names?

In real life, they probably have very average names. Real-life spies can’t afford to have names like Napoleon Solo and bushy moustaches that make them stand out in crowds.

Let’s talk about that moustache, which had to be CGI-ed out for the Justice League reshoots. How did you feel about all the attention?

It was fun to watch it unfold and to poke the bear sometimes. At the beginning of it all, I had no idea that it was going to create such a ruckus. But we couldn’t shave it off – a fake one wouldn’t have worked. You’ll see why, when you see the movie.

Are you talking about the helicopter scene in the trailer where the wind is ruffling your ’tache?

That is exactly what we were shooting immediately after the [Justice League] reshoots. A fake one would have blown off.

Playing a secret agent with a fake moustache might have been a bit of a cliché, anyway.

I would have needed a big nose and some glasses, too.

If they can CGI off your moustache, did you ever consider quitting the gym and asking the studio to CGI on your muscles?

[Laughs] No. I actually take quite a lot of pride in trying to do the physical stuff. Anything that I can, I will try to do. It’s really good motivation. If you have a goal, you grind that much harder.

Presumably, with Justice League sequels in the works, you have to maintain your Superman body all the time anyway…

I definitely try to. It can be really hard sometimes. Once you’re in shape, though, it’s a good idea to stay that way because it can suck, looking back at being in shape and thinking, “Aw, man, I used to look good.”

Do you feel pressured to be in that kind of shape, even when you’re not playing Superman?

Yeah, I feel a lot of pressure. I think the trick is to half listen to that pressure and half ignore it. I can’t be constantly listening to the drumbeat of what the world expects of me, but I definitely can use it to keep me moving when I’m feeling slow.

Henry Cavill moustache

Just take a look at that beauty

You post a lot of Instagram pictures with your dog Kal. Does he get to accompany you wherever you go?

It’s difficult on tour – unless you’re travelling by private jet everywhere, which is very unlikely. If someone can look after him at home for a couple of weeks, where he’s comfortable, it’s probably not worth bringing him.

A lot of emotional goodbyes, then?

I try to keep everything as normal as possible. I read somewhere that if you start changing stuff just before you leave, they pick up on different energy vibes. It creates separation anxiety. Dogs have a different way of recalling things; they live more in the now than we do.

So dogs don’t get nostalgic?

I don’t think so. I’ve not spoken to a dog, so I don’t know how they feel.

After a recent Instagram post of you and Kal sharing a motorbike, a lot of people were commenting, “God, I wish I was that dog.” Do you find that weird?

I don’t know if they would wish they were that dog. It was mightily uncomfortable. There wasn’t that much space on the motorbike.

A post shared by Henry Cavill (@henrycavill) on

I think that’s what they were getting at. Do you ever Google your own name?

Not typically, but if I’m incredibly bored I may. If you do that sort of thing, though, you’re always going to find a headline that is, let’s say, exciting to read. The kind of stuff that makes you go, “Hold on a second, why? Is that what people think of me?”

According to one such Daily Express headline, you are “READY” to replace Daniel Craig as James Bond.

Well, that makes it sound like I shouted “READY”, which would be weird. Good for them, though. I hope they got a lot of people to read the article. Ready is an interesting word. I feel I’m the right age. I’ve got the physical capacity to do it; I have the stunt experience. So yeah, I’d love to play the role. But good for them, boiling it down to one word.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is at cinemas nationwide now

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