Superman Meets Picard: Henry Cavill and Patrick Stewart on Their Life-Changing Roles
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In "The Witcher" Henry Cavill takes off Superman's suit in favor of heavy armor and a blonde wig to fight monsters as Geralt of Rivia, adapted from the fantasy books by the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The call to save humanity is nothing new to Patrick Stewart. In "Star Trek: Picard" Stewart returns to the captain's chair of the USS Enterprise. He played Picard for the first time in 1987 when "Star Trek: The Next Generation" was released. And years before Cavill Superman was on the big screen, he met his own hero - Stewart - at a theater audition that he would never forget. They talked to each other through a video chat to discuss Variety's Actors on Actors.
Henry Cavill: Sir Patrick, how are you?
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Patrick Stewart: I did a 90-minute interview with Fresh Air yesterday and talked too much. That's why I speak now because my voice got very tired.
Cavill: I thought you were just giving an impression of my character from "The Witcher". You and I met many years ago - I think it was 2003 when you cast for "The Lion in Winter". I played for three years. I was incredibly nervous to play in front of an actor of your caliber. I had spent weeks learning my lines, and when I got there I was so furious that I completely confused the audition. I forgot to act and then walked with my cock between my legs.
When I was walking down a street in London, I suddenly thought I knew I could do better. So I went back - you said it was okay - and I did another audition. It wasn't good enough to get the job, but it was far better. They said, "I'm so glad you came back," and it has given me so much strength throughout my career, and I have never forgotten it.
Stewart: Oh, Henry, it's a delightful story. I've had some bad experiences with auditions in my career - directors who phoned during my audition.
I started hearing auditions when we were shooting Star Trek: The Next Generation. I was shocked at how gruff and casual my colleagues, producers, and directors were with actors. And I would always make sure to get up from behind the table, shake hands and ask how they're doing. Until my producer said to me, "Are you going to stop? You mustn't befriend these people! "
Cavill: I grew up watching you with my father in "The Next Generation". Can I ask a question because I'm interested? In the laudatory speech by Brent Spiner and Data, you said: "Such things / How dreams are made." Was that your influence?
Stewart: No, I never suggested these Shakespeare references. They always came out of the authors' room because I didn't want it to look like I was driving my own acting story in the middle of this science fiction. But we all love it. I think we made a scene from "Hamlet". Data was Hamlet and I was one of the gravediggers in disguise.
Cavill: Was there something you wanted to bring to this character with "Picard" that would be particularly different from "The Next Generation"? What were your goals for character development?
Stewart: During the seven years we shot Next Generation and the four films that followed, Picard came closer and closer to me, Patrick. After a while, there was no place where I could tell where Jean-Luc left off and Patrick Stewart started.
What I wanted - for the authors, I quoted the film "Logan" that I made with Hugh Jackman, the last of the "X-Men" films. This film found us both in conditions that were completely different from anything we had experienced before, and it was exciting for both of us because we were constantly challenged. I said to my fellow producers, "I want the same thing." The contrast between the Picard I had in "Next Generation" and how the years that had changed it had changed. He was angry, moody, guilty, sad, lonely now, which he had never been before.
Cavill: You almost described my character.
Stewart: I didn't recognize you when you first appeared as Geralt. Was it your idea that he should have that mane of hair in front of his face? And you look massive on the screen, seven feet tall and wide.
Cavill: The wonders of good camera work. When it comes to character and appearance, there are descriptions in the books and a very popular video game series. I wanted to use elements of all of these things. It took about an hour and a half to two hours every morning before rehearsals. And when I was in my full Geralt Rig, as I call it, it was like looking at another person, and I felt halfway to character through physicality. I would move a little differently, and as soon as the contact lenses went in, everything shifted. And my interactions
were completely different, and the only time they really became Henry again was when I fell asleep on a chair in my trailer for 20 minutes.
Stewart: You did a lot of your own stunts, right?
Cavill: Yes, I did it. When it comes to things like stunts, I've always enjoyed doing the physical things. Working with Tom Cruise [on "Mission: Impossible - Fallout"] really helped - or in the eyes of the producers made my enjoyment of stunts even worse. I really want to do it now and I think it's an essential piece for the character. When an audience sees Geralt on the screen, they have to believe it's me. When I'm not, I feel like I've betrayed the character in some way, so I try to do as much as I can produce.
Stewart: I loved doing stage fights and one day I didn't. I worked with an actor in a production of "Coriolanus". I played Tullus Aufidius. Stage productions have a tradition: when fighting, you always put down a spare sword. And the rule is, the sword breaks, you break apart. And the actor whose sword was broken went to the next side of the stage, picked up the sword, came back and we'll start over.
On that special night, this actor, his sword broke, he looked at the handle in his hand and then he threw it at me. I ducked down and it hit a member of the audience and there was that howling - I mean, the person was actually hurt. It was no fun. From that moment on, stage fights became less and less attractive to me because I always feared that one day I would not duck down and be impaled quickly.
If we are lucky as an actor, there will be a role or offer that has a tremendous impact on the following. Did that happen to Superman?
Cavill: I think so. And I was always incredibly grateful for that. I've always been a Superman fan. With such a character, you carry the coat with you. And it becomes part of your public representation. When you meet children, children don't necessarily see me as Henry Cavill, but they may see Superman, and that's a responsibility. Because it is such a wonderful character, it is actually a responsibility that I enjoy, and I hope that I can play more of Superman in the years to come.
It has changed my life dramatically. And it gave me a lot of opportunities for roles, and yes, it was one of those characters that changed the whole course of my career. I am incredibly grateful for it and it has also taught me a lot about myself.
Stewart: How, Henry?
Cavill: He's so good, he's so nice, and when you start comparing yourself to him because you play him, you really start to look inside. They say, "Am I a good person? Can I be good enough to play Superman? "
And if you ever hear a whisper, that's, "Hmm, wait a second. Maybe not ”, then adjust it and make sure that you are a better person. I think that's all we can do in life.
Stewart: There was a hint of it with both Jean-Luc Picard and Charles Xavier. I felt with both that, as you described, they have an impact on my private life. There was a kind of standard of morality and behavior that you had to adhere to, because if you didn't, they would reflect the character you were playing badly and negatively.
Over the years, I have been told so many extraordinary stories by people watching "Next Generation" and you have now joined the list. Do you think you could do more theater work at some point?
Cavill: I was in school pieces from the age of ten. I love the feeling of going on stage, the feeling of that slight panic that is replaced by elation when it all starts. At the moment I want to stay on TV and in film. In the future I might be able to try to get back on stage when I'm ready to embarrass myself.
Stewart: I suddenly had the picture of me walking into a room to play for you.
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