British 'Superman' in "Man of Steel"

Intense body-building and mastering American English were two of the challenges Briton Henry Cavill had to take on for his lead role in "Man of Steel."

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Henry Cavill shows off his sculpted physique in this Warner Bros photo.

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British 'Superman' in "Man of Steel"


Briton Henry Cavill becomes the latest actor to don Superman's famous red cape as "Man of Steel" hits theaters this week.

The heart-throb actor co-stars with Amy Adams as plucky reporter Lois Lane and Australian Russell Crowe as his other-worldly father Jor-El in the $225 million film.

Co-stars Amy Adams and Henry Cavill. AFP

Kevin Costner and Diane Lane play the couple who raise Superman as Clark Kent after he lands in their backyard in a space pod ejected by his real parents from the dying planet Krypton.

Cavill recalled being a Superman fan as a child growing up on Jersey, in the British Channel Islands.

"I was a kid running round the garden with a tea towel round his neck, beating up his brothers and stuff," he told AFP ahead of the film's release in the United States this week and around the world over the rest of June.

The 30-year-old was once dubbed "the most unlucky man in Hollywood" after losing out to Daniel Craig to become James Bond in 2005, and just failing to be cast in 2006's "Superman Returns".

But he finally got the call from seasoned action/sci-fi director Zach Snyder to play a character famously portrayed by Christopher Reeve in four movies from 1978 to 1987, before he was paralysed in a horse-riding accident.

Preparing for the role involved five months of gruelling physical training and specialised diets to build muscle mass while maintaining a lean physique, fully on display in the movie.

"Throughout the movie we did some fine-tuning, some sculpting, and then one very intense leaning period six weeks during the movie for the shirtless stuff," he said, referring to scenes before he dons the famous Superman suit.

Perfecting the US accent also took weeks of work with a voice coach to transform his English public school vowels into Midwest twang.

His Oscar-nominated co-star Adams, making her first major blockbuster movie, was impressed both with his accent – "it's pretty close to perfect" – and his acting skills.

"He has a physical presence as Superman... but then has this beautiful vulnerability and gentleness to him," she told AFP – while admitting that kissing Superman, near the film's climax, was less fun than some might think.

"People are always so disappointed when they find out the truth (that) kissing scenes are always so technical. But you know, it's all in a day's work, for a working lady," she joked coyly.

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