Standing tall at 6-foot-1, with a square-cut jaw and well-defined pecs, Henry Cavill looks like a stereotypical superhero. In the June/July issue of Details, however, the 30-year-old actor reveals he was often bullied for being overweight as a child in England.
"I was fat. I was Fat Cavill," says the star, who plays the iconic Superman in director Zack Snyder's upcoming Man of Steel. When the young Brit was sent to boarding school, he recalls, "I bawled on the phone to my mom four times a day. I became an easy target."
Cavill found strength through acting, landing a small part in 2002's The Count of Monte Cristo at age 17. "I lost one and a half stone" -- 21 pounds -- "and I wasn't Fat Cavill anymore," the actor says.
Years later, while still at boarding school, Cavill had a chance encounter with Academy Award winner Russell Crowe, who would go on to play his father in Man of Steel. "He was on campus filming Proof of Life," he recalls. "Everyone was standing in a semicircle, and I thought, 'We look ridiculous, staring like he's some kind of prize pony.' So I walked up and said, 'Hi, my name is Henry. I'm thinking of becoming an actor. What's the acting world like?' He said something like, 'Sometimes it's great. Sometimes it's not so great. It's fun acting. And they pay well.' Then everyone ran up and asked for autographs, and I turned to Russell and said, 'Run!'"
Shortly after, Cavill received a package from Crowe containing snacks, a rugby jersey, and a CD of the actor's band. "There was also a signed note," Cavill tells Details. "It said, 'Dear Henry, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.'"
On the set of Man of Steel, Cavill reminded his costar of their brief meeting. "I told him, 'I was the fat one who didn't ask for your autograph,'" he remembers. "He looked at me blankly, and then he actually remembered."
Cavill transformed his body once again for Man of Steel, consuming 5,000 calories a day and working out daily with trainer Mark Twight. Though he has since slimmed down, Cavill would prefer to keep his diet and exercise methods private. "I will say I was a lot bigger as Superman," he tells the magazine. "A lot bigger. I'm not saying how much. It's modesty about the weight -- I've always been worried about my weight -- but I also don't want to invite that debate: Henry weighs this, so he's the perfect Superman. Or, Henry doesn't weigh this, and therefore he's not believable in the role."
Despite his insecurities, Cavill -- dating Fast & Furious 6 star Gina Carano since 2012 — is already winning over women worldwide. "It takes a second to adjust, because Henry's just so good-looking," says Amy Adams, who plays love interest Lois Lane. "He's dashing with just a hint of danger, and it's kinda great. It's super-hidden. But you know there's a steeliness within him that makes the gentlemanly qualities all the more interesting."