Director Tarsem Singh’s visual extravaganza Immortals opens in theaters this weekend. The film does a bit of Greek mythology remixing by combining the classic mythological tales of Theseus and King Hyperion. In Immortals, Theseus (Henry Cavill), a humble stonemason, must rise up as a warrior for the Gods against the vicious King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), after the king brutally slaughtered Theseus’ mother and countless Hellenic’s in his campaign to end the reign of the Olympians.
The film also presupposes that if one were an all-powerful immortal God, one would naturally choose to remain young and good-looking throughout the course of existence. As such, Singh has made some unusual casting choices in this film, including the decision to have the Luke Evans play the king of the Gods himself, Zeus.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Evans and Cavill at a small round table discussion, to talk about working with Tarsem Singh and Mickey Rourke, the “gold costume” and the discipline it takes to portray epically-scaled men of war.
Screen Rant: What’s it like to play a mythological God and legendary Hero?
Luke Evans: It was very fun, wasn’t it? We enjoyed it. Hard, hard work but I think the final product speaks for itself. I’m very proud of it.
Do you feel badass while you’re doing it?
Luke Evans: Totally. Absolutely badass.
Henry Cavill: Badass and hungry.
Luke Evans: Sore and aching but definitely badass.
Were there any injuries?
Luke Evans: I now have a bone that’s raised on my shoulder which I never had before, which is like a scapula or clavicle tear. It’s never gone down. I just have this strange structural skeletal problem now, thanks to ‘Immortals.’
Henry Cavill: Nothing dramatic. I mean, a few stones in my feet, the bottom of my feet, but nothing which put me out of work.
Luke Evans: You have a lot of training, a lot of prep before you start something like this because it was physically demanding. There was no faking any of it and they knew that, so we were put through our paces and Henry especially. A huge amount of work.
Henry Cavill: Yeah, six months of work. Due to the nature of the training – which was from a very talented martial artist called Roger Yuan – part of the training was about flexibility as well, because due to the nature of martial arts, you’re going to need flexibility. With all the fight sequences and everything, it was essential to do all the stretching beforehand. Otherwise you would have ended up pulling stuff and doing damage to muscles. So therefore, during shooting, I was prepared if I did sustain any minor injuries. They healed quickly and I did not sustain any major injuries, for the official answer.
Did all that discipline inform your performances?
Luke Evans: Yeah, I’d say. I trained for seven weeks and I had to do it in fast-paced training. I didn’t have long and it makes you stand differently. You look yourself in the mirror and you look different. I saw my body change in seven weeks. It does definitely do something to inform your character in a sort of subliminal way. It definitely had an effect for me.
Henry Cavill: Yeah, it’s like wearing a permanent costume. No really, before work when you look in the mirror, or even before looking in the mirror, you do feel different. A part of the character is more expressive in you, and so when you’re in that kind of shape, I essentially was wearing my costume because I barely had a costume. Yeah, it certainly does help.
Is part of the mythology that it looks effortless when Theseus picks up and kicks ass, when it really takes weeks and months and hours before the scene?
Henry Cavill: I think like anything which involves fighting, it’s not the actual fight which is the hard work. It’s all the prep that goes into it. Throughout history, there are stories of epic battles where men have dug very deeply and women have dug very deeply into their willpower to continue fighting. But the only reason why they’re there in the first place is the years of training to get to that place and to be told a story about.
Luke Evans: And Theseus was trained since a child by old man Zeus. So he sort of has it all there. He has all the capabilities because he has been trained since a child. So when the button is pushed, he just gets up and does it. It’s all there waiting to be used.
Henry Cavill: Anything physical, it’s all about the prep anyway. You may see the guy in the UFC ring fighting and it may seem effortless – his abilities, his kicks, his punches, whatever – but it’s actually the years of training beforehand where the real work is.
When you first read the script, what jumped out at you?
Henry Cavill: Tarsem. When I first read the script myself, I read it, [but] wasn’t that convinced, initially. The casting director said, ‘I’ve spoken to Tarsem, you’ve got to go meet this guy.’ And I did, and after I walked out of that room, I said, ‘I want to do this movie. I really, really want it.’
Luke Evans: He’s a good salesman. A fantastic salesman.
How did he sell the movie? What happened in that meeting?
Henry Cavill: He had his visuals all set. He had his passion.
Luke Evans: And a checkbook.
Henry Cavill: He basically had an idea of what he wanted, and that in itself – when you walk into a room and you have a director who’s actually genuinely in charge of what he wants – you feel safe. You think ‘Okay, great, I want to be a part of this because I know [that] no matter what, I’m going to get to do my bit, and you’re going to do your bit, and we’re going to work together as opposed to it being, ‘Well, we don’t really know what we’re doing but it’s kind of like this and therefore you’ll fit in here somewhere but we might change a lot of stuff up.’
Luke Evans: I think in a movie like this, on paper it can sometimes be a little bit too much to swallow. You’re thinking, ‘Wow.’ Then like Henry said, you meet Tarsem and he has all the answers. For me, when he told me that he wanted me to play Zeus, I was like, ‘That’s always been played by an old man, like Lawrence Olivier or Liam Neeson.’ He convinced me, he said, ‘No, you can do this. This is a new take’” And you just go, ‘Okay, I surrender, I’ll follow you and you’ll lead me.’ That’s what we had to do in this film.
How did the script change when you were on the set?
Henry Cavill: There were a lot of changes. It was an organic process. That in itself is the nature of these things. When you’re dealing with creative minds, it should be organic and it should have the opportunity to evolve as necessary.
Luke Evans: He was very open to the dialogue. There was always a constant dialogue between the actor and the director. He was open to that. He wanted us to feel natural in what we were delivering off the page and if it didn’t sound right, or if there were certain words we wanted to change, he was actually happy for us to do that.
Well all this talk about physical prep that pays off – is acting the same way? What sort of prep have you done that we see on the screen? What has been your prep in developing your acting style?
Luke Evans: Learn the lines for a start. Get off the page, that’s the first thing. Then it’s an organic experience isn’t it? You’re working with a director who hopefully has plenty to say about the role that you’re going to play. So you get that information and then create your own backstory and work out the journey that your character is going to go on. I mean when I played Zeus I was playing a father. A father, a God who was thousands of years old, a king. So I just channeled my Granddad and a few older gentlemen that I know and respect and sort of used those things. I think you always pull things from life and it’s good to come from a personal point of view when you take on a role. I think it makes the character way more interesting and believable if you do that.
Henry Cavill: True. A lot of it is very instinctual as well. So it’s like asking a golf player, ‘So what do you do when you swing a club?’ A lot of it happens as it happens in the moment and as you’re doing it and if someone is saying, ‘So, what choices did you make during that take?’ You wouldn’t be able to answer the question. You’ve got to look back and say, ‘Oh, yeah I see what I did there.’ You see on the monitor. ‘I did that, and I did this.’ But, as I say, it’s instinctual. There is a certain amount of prep involved with a character which is far from one’s own personality and character, but otherwise, you go with what you’re feeling. Because you can often trust that in the moment.
Mickey Rourke has had such a storied history with Hollywood and a long career – what did you learn from working with him?
Henry Cavill: Working with any actor that has that kind of experience is good because you can learn as much as you possibly can from him. I learned that there’s a certain gravitas you can have by doing the smallest things and things you do in your everyday life you often don’t do when you’re acting because you’re concentrating so hard on doing something that you’re actually not doing the natural things. Mickey is pretty good at that.
Are you going to be Theseus and Zeus for Halloween?
Luke Evans: If I ever see that gold costume again, it’ll be too soon.
Immortals opens in theaters (3D and 2D) this Friday, November 11th.
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