Many actors are attractive — it’s kind of a requirement for the job, unless they enjoy playing escaped convicts or prospectors. But there’s a tipping point at which beauty tilts into incredibility. For example, if you passed Ryan Gosling on the street, you could conceivably think he was a doctor or construction worker or teacher: a regular guy who just happens to be hotter than industrial steam. On the other hand, if you passed Henry Cavill on the street, you’d think, “that guy must be a model or an actor” if your brain remembered to function at all. And so, Henry, congratulations on your face, but I’m sorry to inform you, you make every role you play seem preposterous.
This isn’t an attack on attractive people. Hell, some of my favorite people to stare at are attractive. One of the most captivating actors working is a member of the tribe. But acting is about fooling us into thinking you’re someone else, and Henry Cavill’s features are too symmetrical to belong to anyone other than an actor. Maybe things would be different if his cheekbones were less pronounced; his jawline a few degrees less square. Take other actors who are considered attractive: Chris Hemsworth’s nose is slightly too wide, and Jason Momoa has mildly asymmetrical eyebrows. Flaws! Accessibility! And don’t get me started on the younger Hemsworth. Psh. My mouth would scarcely go dry if I asked him for the time.
But Hemsworth and Momoa both have particular vibes (vikingtonian?) allowing certain snobs to say, “I just don’t see it” with a veneer of believability. Henry Cavill defies rejection. Even if he doesn’t do much for you, you can’t look at him and say, “that’s not one of the most symmetrical fucking faces I’ve ever seen.” He’s not a bad actor, but it’s impossible to buy anything he’s trying to convince us he is. He can pretend to be fishermen, dukes, reporters, and spies, but this is not the face of any fisherman, spy, or duke on planet Earth.
Henry: OK, what do you want, Magnum? Blue Steel?
Director: No, actually, you’re a fisherman.
Henry: A fisherman? I don’t buy it. A fisherman??? Like a man. Who fishes. Exposed to harsh elements. A FISHERMAN??
You might now say, “but Superman/Clark Kent wasn’t born on planet Earth! Isn’t he perfect for that, then?” That is indeed the one role he fits — as the Superman part, at least. When they try to Clark Kent him up, like when Man of Steel briefly flirted with being Deadliest Catch, the idea of him as a weatherbeaten crab fisherman was unintentionally hilarious.
I don’t care if your acting is Daniel Day-Lewis level…
…this is not a reporter. I don’t believe you. I can’t take you seriously. Yes, I know he’s not really a reporter, but I don’t believe anyone else would buy it either. The citizens of Metropolis might be too dumb to link Clark Kent with Superman, but they’d at least be suspicious that Clark Kent looks like a preposterously handsome actor who is pretending to be a reporter by wearing Weezer glasses.
Henry Cavill isn’t the only poor soul suffering from this tragic ailment — Megan Fox did too. She could no more be convincing as a DMV worker or a TSA agent than she could be as a giraffe.
Worst giraffe ever.
Unfortunately, she always played The Hot One until she just sort of disappeared. Henry better be careful, because even if he doesn’t want to be The Hot One, his own writers won’t go along with it. Take The Tudors, in which he plays a comically attractive 16th century duke. Below, that’s what he actually looks like in the show, minus the T-shirt. They didn’t even have the decency to smear some dirt on his face, like all the cool period dramas do these days.
If you’re wondering why it’s just a clip of him talking about the show, it’s because he doesn’t really have any scenes that aren’t sex scenes and I didn’t want to make things weird.
Nothing weird here.
He occasionally got to show hints of emotion and make vague statements about Tudor court politics, but the writers just wanted him to fuck everyone so, that was his every plot line. Oh, you live in the 1500s? Really? Really? Not buying it. Even Jaime Lannister has a nose that looks like he’s seen a joust.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with playing The Hot One parts. Brad Pitt’s career began on a similar trajectory.
But he was able to move forward by using it to inform his performances, like pseudo-playboy types (Ocean’s Eleven), or he grew mustaches and wore his hair weirdly to obscure it (Inglorious Basterds, Burn After Reading) or he subverted it (Fight Club). For the most part, he didn’t try to play roles where it would be impossible to take him seriously. Plus, his eyebrows go up slightly at their inside corners. Cavill’s are inhumanly straight.
If Henry Cavill wants to break free of his tragic circumstance, he needs to be clever about the parts he takes. No waiters. No dentists. No plumbers. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. looks like he might be on a promising track — not that anyone buys him as a spy, spies are supposed to blend in, but everyone knows spies were more handsome in the ‘60s. And the show it’s based on was campy, winking at the Connery-Bond too-cool-for-school manner of spying. The movie looks similar.
If Cavill wants hope, he needs to go for the Brad Pitt route over the Megan Fox route, or else he just needs to hope that the next James Bond after Daniel Craig will be gay and he can be the first Bond Boy.
Otherwise, maybe Henry Cavill and Megan Fox can star in a movie as an actor couple who briefly break up but find that they’re too attractive to date anyone else and so they have to find their way back together, but first they have to walk away from some explosions in slow motion while their hair stays immaculate. You know, one of Hollywood’s relatable “they’re just like you!” movies.
But seriously, somebody write that script and call their agents.