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Henry William Dalgliesh Cavill was born on May 5, 1983, on Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, a British crown dependency. He attended Stowe boarding school, where he developed a love for acting, performing in several productions. Though he originally wanted to leave his archipelago birthplace, he later reported that he missed home greatly and regularly dealt with being bullied by other children over his weight.

After roles in the thriller Laguna (2001) and the series The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Cavill landed a prominent part as Albert in the 2002 adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo. With this role, the young actor embarked on a screen career that would be highly informed by period dramas and the fantastic.

Cavill was next featured in the British comedy I Capture the Castle (2003) before landing supporting roles in Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005) and the medieval romance Tristan & Isolde (2006).

Cavill was tapped to star in an update of Superman to be handled by director McG, but the project fell through. (Director Bryan Singer was instead given the green light to helm his own update.) Cavill at one point also was up for the role of James Bond in the remake of Casino Royale, but Daniel Craig landed the part.

Nonetheless, Cavill persevered and took on a lead role as Charles Brandon in the successful Showtime series The Tudors, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as King Henry VIII; the drama ran for four seasons. Cavill continued his costumed work in the fantasy realm of Stardust (2007) and returned to the present era while working with director Woody Allen in the Larry David comedy outing Whatever Works (2009). In 2008, Cavill also worked as a model for the Dunhill fragrance line.

2011 saw Cavill playing leading man, this time in the form of warrior Theseus in the swords-and-gods epic The Immortals. The next year Cavill played a Wall Street trader in the thriller Cold Light of Day, co-starring Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver.

Cavill, an avid gamer in his off-hours, was playing World of Warcraft when he received a call from director Zack Snyder that he’d won the part of Superman in the Christopher Nolan–produced Man of Steel, with a U.S. release in June 2013. The film co-stars Russell Crowe as the main character’s biological father Jor-El (Cavill had met Crowe as a teen), Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as adoptive parents Martha and Jonathan Kent, Amy Adams as reporter Lois Lane and Laurence Fishburne as newspaper editor-in-chief Perry White.

With Cavill working out diligently with 300 trainer Mark Twight to sculpt a muscular physique for the role, the new Superman also has a revamped bodysuit and a soul-searching personal identity. Though receiving a decidedly mixed critical reception, the film was a certified smash, earning almost $670 million worldwide. Cavill teamed up with actor/director Ben Affleck to star in the 2016 sequel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Cavill also signed on to star as CIA operative Napoleon Solo in Guy Ritchie’s remake of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., with an August 2015 U.S. release. The spy drama, set in the 1960s, co-stars Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander and Hugh Grant.

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