Henry Cavill on Bond, U.N.C.L.E. and Superman

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer (art by Paul Baack)

Men’s Health is out with a long feature story about actor Henry Cavill. He was once up for playing James Bond (losing out to Daniel Craig), played Napoleon Solo in a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and was Superman in three films.

Various entertainment outlets have chewed up the story into bite-sized pieces about various topics. Here’s a roundup.

On auditioning for Bond in Casino Royale: Cavill was in his early 20s when he tested for the role of Bond. Chances are he didn’t stand much of a chance given how Eon Productions boss was pushing for Daniel Craig. The story has this passage:

To screen-test, he had to walk out of a bathroom wrapped in a towel and reenact a scene from one of the Sean Connery–era films. “I probably could have prepared better,” Cavill says. “I remember the director, Martin Campbell, saying, ‘Looking a little chubby there, Henry.’ I didn’t know how to train or diet. And I’m glad Martin said something, because I respond well to truth. It helps me get better.”

Sounds like he was probably talking about the seduction scene of From Russia With Love, which is one of the standard Bond screen test scenes.

On The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015): The article says the movie, while not a big hit, helped Cavill’s career.

It wasn’t until the big-screen remake of the TV show The Man from U.N.C.L.E. that viewers got an idea of the actor’s innate playfulness. Cavill played a swanning, conning American agent named Napoleon Solo. And although it wasn’t a hit, it marked a crucial moment in his career. As Solo, he was droll, at ease, and effortlessly sexy.

Watching U.N.C.L.E., says director Christopher McQuarrie, led him to cast the actor as the evil-genius villain of Mission: Impossible—Fallout. “Something in Henry’s comic timing told me he had talents that weren’t being exploited,” says McQuarrie. “I found he had a charming sense of humor—at which point I knew he could be a villain. The best villains enjoy their work.”

Whether he’s still Superman: Cavill played Superman in Man of Steel (2013), Batman v Superman (2016) and Justice League (2017). There are no outward signs whether he’ll be back. An excerpt:

“I’ve not given up the role. There’s a lot I have to give for Superman yet. A lot of storytelling to do. A lot of real, true depths to the honesty of the character I want to get into. I want to reflect the comic books. That’s important to me. There’s a lot of justice to be done for Superman. The status is: You’ll see.”

Kingsman prequel gets delayed seven months

The King’s Man, the prequel to two Kingsman films, has been pushed back seven months to Sept. 18, 2020 from Feb. 14, 2020, Exhibitor Relations Co. said  Friday in a Twitter post.

The change was one of a series of moves by Walt Disney Co. that also included setting dates for five untitled movies from Marvel Studios, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

20th Century Fox, now part of Disney, put out a trailer for The King’s Man in late September. The movie depicts the origins of “the first independent” intelligence agency and stars Ralph Fiennes. It’s directed by Matthew Vaughn, who helmed the first two Kingsman movies.

Exhibitor Relations tracks box office data and business developments in entertainment. The company, in a separate Twitter post, noted Disney “just dropped a boatload of FOX UNTITLED dates.”

There has been speculation whether Disney would maintain Fox as a separate brand, including its iconic 20th Century Fox logo and accompanying 20th Century Fox fanfare. That music was originally composed by Alfred Newman in 1933, and then expanded when Fox introduced CinemaScope, a wide-screen format, in 1953.

In any case, here’s the original trailer for The King’s Man.

Looking for a suit? Here’s an U.N.C.L.E. version for $735

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo in 2015’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015) wasn’t a big box office hit. But that hasn’t stopped the marketing of a suit based on the film.

Magnoli Clothiers is offering a three-piece suit based on the movie for $735. Here’s a description.

This retro three-piece suit features a three-button single-breasted jacket with cloth-covered buttons, three flapped pockets and a square-cut bottom. The six-button waistcoat has matching buttons and two welted pockets. The pleated trousers have angled side pockets and plain bottoms with no cuffs.

Shown in a premium wool blend, dark blue with double window-pane and hand-stitched detailing

Henry Cavill wore a variety of three-piece suits in the 2015 film. Cavill, a one-time contender to play James Bond, portrayed Napoleon Solo in the U.N.C.L.E. film.

Solo was the role originated by Robert Vaughn in the 1964-68 television series. The Solo character was created by television producer Norman Felton and James Bond author Ian Fleming. The bulk of the series was created by writer-producer Sam Rolfe.

When the U.N.C.L.E. movie came out, some who didn’t like the movie (done as a period piece set in 1963) commented about the costumes, including Solo’s suits.

High-end merchandise related to James Bond is old hat. Currently, you can buy a $6,000 backgammon set, a $3.5 million replica Aston Martin DB5 with gadgets (but not street legal so you can’t drive it on the open road) and another Aston Martin model for $700,007.

Also, clothier N. Peal has come out with a line of James Bond-related clothing such as sweaters.

h/t Robert Short of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. — Inner Circle page on Facebook.

Robert Evans dies at 89

Poster for Black Sunday, the 1977 movie produced by Robert Evans

Robert Evans, who had a remarkable career as an actor, studio executive and producer, has died at 89, according to Variety.

As an actor, Evans played MGM producer Irving Thalberg (Man of a Thousand Faces); as an executive at Paramount, he helped get The Godfather made; and a producer he made Chinatown, Marathon Man and Black Sunday.

Evans died on Saturday, Oct. 26, according to Variety.

Evans was as colorful, if not more so, than the characters in his various productions. His wives included actress Camilla Sparv (whose credits included the Matt Helm film Murderers’ Row); actress Ali MacGraw; and former beauty contest winner Phyllis George.

His personal life also included arrests of cocaine possession, according to the Variety obituary.

Nevertheless, when Evans was a Hollywood survivor — in a major way.

The Godfather was one of the most important movies of the 1970s. Chinatown had a huge impact on audiences, gathering 11 Oscar nominations, though only writer Robert Towne won. Black Sunday, a movie based on a Thomas Harris novel, dealt with Middle Eastern terrorism brought to the United States at the Super Bowl.

Evans was the ultimate Hollywood survivor. He wrote a memoir, The Kid Stays In the Picture: A Notorious Life. That was later the basis of a 2002 documentary. 

Lazenby returns in an audio spy adventure

Passport to Oblivion Cover

George Lazenby, the one-time film James Bond, is returning to the espionage genre.

Lazenby stars as Dr. Jason Love in an audio adaptation of author James Leasor’s Passport to Oblivion. The adapation is part of a two-disc set selling for 14.99 British pounds.

Some details from a press release:

An audio spy adventure based on a series of internationally bestselling books (published in 19 languages) by James Leasor, ‘Passport to Oblivion’ features an all-star cast that also includes Glynis Barber, Nickolas Grace, Michael Brandon and Terence Stamp as ‘C’ the Head of MI6.

‘Passport to Oblivion’ is the first of 10 planned audio recordings by award-winning Spiteful Puppet and based on books first published in the 1960s. The novels, which sold in their millions, have a worldwide fan base. This is the first time they have been adapted as audio dramas.

Spiteful Puppet have been granted the license for all 10 of James Leasor’s Dr. Jason Love books. ‘Passport to Oblivion’ (2-disc audio set) will be released 29 November 2019.

‘Passport to Oblivion’, set in 1964, has astonishing parallels with today’s allegations of Russian interference in politics of the West, unrest in the Middle East, and seems very fresh and relevant.

Lazenby, 80, played James Bond in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Passport to Oblivion previously was adapted as the 1966 movie Where the Spies Are, with David Niven as Dr. Jason Love.

1964: U.N.C.L.E.’s Soviet history in-joke

For much of The Project Strigas Affair, Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) wears a disguise that appears to resemble…

Next month marks the 55th anniversary of The Project Strigas Affair, the ninth episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. It’s mostly known today for being the first time William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy acted together.

However, it’s also an example of an in-joke, albeit one that many members of the audience might not catch.

For much of the story, U.N.C.L.E. agent Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) wears a disguise consisting of a black wig, fake mustache and wire rim glasses.

It’s part of an elaborate con to ensnare a diplomat (Werner Klemperer), whose government is plotting to get the United States and Soviet Union to declare war on each other.

…Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky

Students of Soviet history might recognize the disguise. That’s because the disguised Illya appears to resemble Leon Trotsky, a Russian revolutionary who had a falling out with Stalin. Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico City in 1940.

Kuryakin was U.N.C.L.E.’s resident Russian operative. The U.N.C.L.E. series treated the agent’s nationality very gently. This was the 1960s, after all, and the Cold War was on.

The show mostly had subtle references (“Suddenly I feel very Russian,” he says as he parks near a Long Island party held by rich people in the first-season episode The Love Affair.)

Illya’s disguise for The Project Strigas Affair, assuming it really was an intentional in-joke, falls into this category. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was escapist entertainment, first and foremost. But the Kuryakin disguise shows there’s a bit more at work.

Happy Spy Command Day!

Happy Spy Command Day

Today, Oct. 8, is the 11th anniversary of the blog. Griffey the Grffin says, “Happy Spy Command Day!”

It’s been a great ride. And with the 25th James Bond film still in production, there is still a lot to write about.

The blog writes a lot about James Bond. But it still covers a number of related topics.

The Spy Commander still remembers friends who aren’t here to celebrate. Those individuals are still in the Spy Commander’s memory.

Anyway, onwards and upwards. There’s a lot more to come. Thanks to those who’ve expressed support over the years.