Working with Millie Bobby Brown can sometimes be a tad annoying, according to Henry Cavill, but in an endearing, brother-sister kind of way.
In the just-out Netflix movie Enola Holmes, the Man of Steel actor plays Sherlock Holmes while the Stranger Things breakout is his teenager sister Enola. Peaky Blinders’ Sam Claflin co-stars as their older brother Mycroft.
Based on Nancy Springer’s book series of the same name, the movie follows the adventures of Enola as she flees her home in the country to find her missing eccentric mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter) in London, much to Sherlock and Mycroft’s chagrin.
Along the way, fiesty Enola makes new friends (Crazy Heads’ Susan Wokoma, Paddington 2’s Louis Partridge), encounters ruthless killers (Game of Thrones’ Burn Gorman) and gets embroiled in a nefarious conspiracy — all that while navigating the rigid gender norms of Victorian society.
Speaking to 8days.sg and a group of journos from the Philippines via Zoom from London, Cavill, 37, says bonding with Claflin onscreen is easy. "I’m from a family of four brothers anyway and so for me, interacting with siblings of different types comes very naturally."
Elsewhere, acting alongside Brown is “a lot like having a sister” he never had. “We had a lot of laughs together,” says Cavill. He would “roll his eyes a lot of times” whenever the 16-year-old lass — who's also the producer — started to chat about reality shows which “she is very well-versed in”.
Cavill continues, “I would often switch off when she was talking and she would keep on talking at me until she realise that I wasn’t listening anymore.” Other times, the Keeping Up with the Kardashians fan would try to get him to make dance videos for social media. “I, of course, gave her a good strong ‘no’ on that one,” he says.
Other than that, Cavill was more than happy to play second fiddle to Brown in Enola Homes, which is after all a movie about Enola, not Sherlock. It was a no-brainer for him to be a part of a feel-good movie with an important message about equality. “It’s something which we are all striving for, something which needs to be normalised.”
As iconic a character as Sherlock Holmes is, Cavill didn’t feel the pressure to step into his shoes. Not only is he not the lead, he’s also giving a very different take on the world’s greatest detective. Unlike the emotionally detached portrayals by Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Downey Jr and Jonny Lee Miller, Cavill’s Sherlock has a higher EQ (and bigger pecs).
“I’ve played a lot of heavier, serious characters over the years and it’s nice to play a character with some lightness,” says Cavill, who credits director Harry Bradbeer (Fleabag, Killing Eve) for incorporating aspects of his personality into this version of Sherlock.
“Harry focused a lot on me as a human being,” Cavill adds. “He asked me questions about my past, my childhood, my hopes and dreams and he then applied [the answers in his directions] — those were the keys he turned in my performances.
"I enjoy a lot more of my true self shining through [Sherlock]. While I think it’s something one shouldn’t do all the time, I think it’s something I would like to do more of because I did enjoy applying more of my personal touches to a character.”