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Henry Cavill: The Man of Steel Dons a Sexy Suit


Henry Cavill transforms from the dorky Clark Kent into the dashing Napoleon Solo in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Suave, cheeky, handsome, funny, even slightly goofy, Cavill as CIA agent Napoleon Solo excels...

Who knew that Henry Cavill not only had a steely eight-pack but also timely comedic chops, and could give fashion advice?

Englishman Cavill’s preternaturally good looks work perfectly as square-jawed Clark Kent in Superman movies (Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice). Except that Superman’s a bit of a boy scout on dates and Clark’s a wet blanket at parties. But in the surprisingly engaging The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Cavill is unleashed.

Suave, cheeky, handsome, funny, even slightly goofy, Cavill as CIA agent Napoleon Solo excels alongside the equally impressive Armie Hammer as KGB operative Illya Kuryakin — opposing spies forced to team up to save the world from a criminal organization, while offering competing ideas on matters ranging from spy craft to high fashion.

When Napoleon and Illya clash on how to dress Gaby, fabulously and feistily played by Alicia Vikander – the third player in their mission’s sexy ménage à trois — Solo mockingly suggests to Illya: “You can’t put a Paco Rabanne belt on a Patou.” Early on, Gaby calls out Napoleon as “Mr. Important Suit,” but it doesn’t stop him from later commenting on Illya’s sartorial choices: “A bow tie doesn’t work with that suit.”

Being dapper may be the new sexy.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is director Guy Ritchie’s swinging homage to the legendary 1960s TV series, with Cavill, Hammer, and Oscar winner Vikander (The Danish Girl) hamming it up in stylish splendour. With Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Sherlock Holmes) directing and co-writing the script, the wry laughs come fast and furious.

Cavill, whose character has an arched eyebrow and mischievous smirk in his repertoire of killer spy looks, explains: “Guy is really a master of comedy and very collaborative. We had a solid script and did a lot of hard work, building our characters up with his direction. But whatever, we laughed at ourselves, and if it felt good. We then tried to put that into our characters. And Guy works with texture. He’d try to put humour into every scene in some way. So even when we did things off-script or accidentally, he’d crack up. He’s got a really good ear and eye for humour.”

Vikander concurs, saying it was great discovering “new ways of finding Guy’s unique sense of humour.”

 In 2013, the year that Man of Steel came out, British Glamour magazine named him “World’s Sexiest Man.” Oh, he’s also fluent in French.

A former English boarding school student known as “fat Cavill” for being a little chubby, Cavill’s American breakthrough came while working on Showtime’s costume drama The Tudors, from 2007-10. As a favourite of Henry VIII, Cavill’s handsome Duke of Suffolk caught the eye of viewers. It was during The Tudors run that Cavill became the face of Dunhill fragrances. In 2013, the year that Man of Steel came out, British Glamour magazine named him “World’s Sexiest Man.” Oh, he’s also fluent in French.

Cavill jokes that while fans might “love actors having six packs, it’s really hard work. It means you’re always starving and slowly dying.” The first non-American to play Superman on screen says that while “superheroes are a lot of fun to play,” he’d also like to play “a super villain ... now that would be fun.”

TMFUs fashion sense and martini-dry repartee aren’t its only highlights. There’s a lot of fun action. Ritchie, known for his kinetic movie openings, kicks off this movie with one of his trademark chase scenes as Illya doggedly pursues Napoleon and Gaby in a car and on foot. Partway through and stuck in their car, driver Gaby asks, “Now what?” To which Napoleon dryly replies, “Take another left through the window ... after you.”

Cavill relishes Napoleon’s sardonic sense of humour as he can be sarcastic,  unlike the taciturn Superman.

As for the fight scenes, Cavill says they were like learning “a dance routine.” In the fight before the two spies team up, they face off in a public bathroom: “The walls kept breaking down, and the set wasn’t quite working out. But Guy kept us going, and we were scrambling, trying to our choreography going. So we sort of winged it through the fight and he kept clapping, saying it’s great! Somehow, we got it right, while having a lot of fun.”

In the end, the movie is a hilariously stylish thrill ride. Says Cavill: “We wanted to pay homage to the original, but also wanted to create our own take for a new audience. It’s a cool, sexy Cold War spy thriller with a Guy Ritchie twist. And we’d absolutely be up for a sequel.”

Ashley Jude Collie is a Canadian entertainment writer based in Los Angeles.