Luke Evans and Henry Cavill on the Blood, Sweat, and Skipped Meals That Went into Those Immortals Abs
It was an agonizing enough process just getting cast in Tarsem's Immortals, stars Luke Evans and Henry Cavill told Movieline over the weekend at WonderCon, where audiences got their first look at the November fantasy pic. But the real struggle, they say, was in reaching and maintaining the physique required of their roles as Zeus and Theseus, respectively -- characters for whom godlike perfection was a prerequisite. But hey, no pressure!
"I was doing a job in the north of England, and Tarsem phoned me up and said, 'Look, if you do this job you've got to come straight to Montreal and you've got to train for seven weeks," recalled Evans of the call that landed him the role of Zeus. "'You've only got seven weeks to get into the shape I need you to get in. That's all I'm saying before I offer you this job, so think about it.'"
Cavill, who is currently training to play the Man of Steel in Zack Snyder's Superman reboot, had it even tougher, training for months in advance with martial artist Roger Yuan just to get into shape before beginning weapons and fight exercises, where he and Evans "sweated and cried and bled together in training." "I was doing about five months' worth of training with cardiovascular, body weight stuff, mixed martial arts," he said, adding that the physical demands came with a cost.
"My immune system was shot. I was constantly getting colds because your body is putting everything into doing the job and surviving, so as soon as the cold wind blows your way you've got the sniffles."
"Taking on that role, you always look at it as a challenge and an opportunity," Cavill remembered. "It's exciting. 'Great, I get to be in fantastic shape and get paid for it!' Once you're there, and you put yourself through all the hard work, you realize one part of the hard work is done but the exceptionally difficult part is working the 14-hour days while maintaining such a low percent of body fat and maintaining your strength and muscle tone."
That's where Tarsem's honey badger-like energy came into play -- the same spirit that convinced Cavill to come on board the project years ago despite having a very different script that needed more work. "The script that we initially read was not what you're going to see," Cavill said. "It needed a good bit of work but my agent said, 'Go in, see Tarsem. This guy sells a different movie.' Sure enough, half an hour later I called my agent saying, 'I've got to do this movie.'"
"He's infectious and he sells anything," Cavill continued, "but he's a wonderful man to work with and truly the only man who kept us all going for 14 hour days in a studio when we were at six percent body fat eating nothing."
Still, the gig came with its own perks. "They gave me an 18-foot chain to swing around," said Evans, describing the flaming chain he wields in the Immortals teaser trailer shown at WonderCon. "I didn't actually use a sword until the last day I was on set. Most of my stuff was with this big chain which, like, decapitated people."
But do gods even need weapons? "They don't need them, no," Evans admitted with a smile, "but when they come to earth they can use whatever they like."
Immortals hits theaters November 11.