Patrick Stewart is well known for playing the role of Professor Charles Xavier, who helps young mutants come to terms with their superpowers and encourages them towards a more heroic path. During a recent Actors on Actors interview, Henry Cavilll revealed to Stewart that the veteran performer had played a similar role in real life for the Superman actor, in the early stages of Cavill's career.
"We met many years ago, I believe it was 2003. You were casting for The Lion in Winter and I had been acting for three years at that stage. My first job was The Count of Monte Cristo when I was 17 years old. I left school one year early. I was extremely nervous to audition in front of an actor of your caliber. I went in to the audition and I had spent weeks learning my lines. By the time I had gotten in there, I had whipped myself into such a frenzy that I completely flubbed the audition."
"I didn't remember my lines, and I forgot how to act. Then, I left with my tail between my legs and called my agent immediately. You were very gracious and you said, 'Thank you very much.' It was clear to me that I was not going to be getting this role. So, I called my agent and told them as much. They said, "Don't worry about it, there will be other auditions. You're not going to nail everyone.'"
"As I was walking down some street in London, I thought, 'I'm not going to walk away from an audition with Sir Patrick Stewart. Have it be a battle. Try to get back in there because I know that I can do better.' So, my agent arranged for me to go back in and you said yes... I did another audition and it went far better. Not good enough to get the job, but it was far better. You gave me very kind words and you said, 'I'm so glad that you came back in.' That gave me such strength throughout my career and I've never forgotten it."
The words of encouragement from as distinguished an actor as Stewart must have meant a great deal to Cavill. Before donning the red cape of the Last Son of Krypton, Cavill had garnered an unfortunate reputation as 'Hollywood's Unluckiest Actor', narrowly missing out on several major roles including Edward Cullen in Twilight, Superman in Superman Returns, and James Bond in Casino Royale.
Such repeated near misses must have been disheartening for Cavill, and Stewart's support for the actor at the end of another disappointing audition created a sense of gratitude, with Cavill still remembering the incident clearly almost two decades later.
Fortunately, Cavill's unlucky streak is ended, with the actor currently playing the fan-favorite character of Geralt in The Witcher, appearing as Sherlock Holmes in the upcoming movie Enola Holmes, and negotiating with Warner Bros. to return to the role of Superman in the DCEU.