'Enola Holmes 2' star Henry Cavill on drunk Sherlock, Superman return: 'It's time to get this right'

Brian Truitt

Henry Cavill packs plenty of punch, whether he’s rocking Victorian attire, fantasy armor, or one iconic red cape.

The British actor’s two-fisted take on Sherlock Holmes returns in the period sequel “Enola Holmes 2” (streaming on Netflix Friday), in which the detective teams up with his younger sister (Millie Bobby Brown), who’s also quite the sleuth. In the first film, released in 2020, Sherlock was a guide to Enola, Cavill says. The roles are reversed in the new adventure: “He starts in a difficult place, so she helps him out of it.”

But there’s another Cavill character that has movie fandom psyched: After a cameo in the superhero film “Black Adam,” he’s back as Superman for future DC movies. And before that, Cavill stars as the title superspy of Apple TV+’s globetrotting thriller “Argylle” (out next year) and plays monster hunter Geralt of Rivia for one last go-round in the upcoming third season of Netflix’s “The Witcher” (before Liam Hemsworth takes over the role).

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Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) and her older brother Sherlock (Henry Cavill) team up to help each other on their detective cases in the Netflix sequel "Enola Holmes 2."

USA TODAY talks with Cavill, 39, about drunk Sherlock, embracing the Man of Steel again and his computer gaming skills. (Edited and condensed for clarity.) 

Question: Your Holmes is a more emotionally available detective than some of the more mercurial screen Sherlocks. Is it fun to give this guy a big heart and a big brain?

Answer: Enola gives that opportunity. In none of the other mediums does Enola exist. It's so wonderful to have that because she's the one person he can be emotional with. It makes the character just ever so slightly different. His forward-facing (appearance) to the rest of the world is still as we've known him. But with Enola, there's just that touch of heart to him. And it allows a contrast because when you see it switch off, it's apparent.

Henry Cavill (center) greets fans at the New York City world premiere of "Enola Holmes 2."

There's a scene hinting at Sherlock’s notorious vices, where Enola catches him midstumble leaving a pub. What's your key to acting drunk?

It's one of those things I joke about a lot in sober life, doing the drunk talk, and I've never really done it on screen before. People have found it funny so I thought, I'll give that a shot, see what happens. The slurring of the words is the key. Physically acting drunk can fall into the ridiculous if you're not careful.

When you take on Sherlock or Superman, do you feel their cultural weight and what's come before or do you treat them as people you need to get to know?

I like the way you phrased that, as people I need to get to know. That's the way to do it. If you approach it as anything else, then there's a certain grandeur attached, which can affect the performance. If you're going to be as honest and true as possible, then you need to try and look at it through their eyes. Certainly, with Superman you feel the effect of the character.

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Henry Cavill (seen here in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice") is back as the Man of Steel in DC films after a "Black Adam" cameo.

Dwayne Johnson told us about the fight it took to get you back in the Man of Steel's cape. Did you miss playing him?

Absolutely. Superman is a formative part of my career and my development over the past 11 years. I very much missed giving the audience the Superman which they were calling out for and the Superman which they desired.

Did it feel a little sweeter putting on the suit on this time around?

I wouldn't necessarily say sweeter, but it was a very powerful moment. Putting the suit on is always powerful, but especially after such a long hiatus and so much unknown, it was an incredibly enjoyable experience to have it back on and have that sense of, OK, it's time to go again. It's time to get this right.

Henry Cavill (with Dua Lipa) stars as the title superspy of Apple TV+'s globetrotting thriller "Argylle."

Is Argylle the closest you’ll ever get to playing James Bond?

(Laughs) Who knows, I guess time will tell. We got to have this slightly larger-than-life character in play, which we could really have fun with.

What do you think about fans over the years yearning for you to play 007 or Marvel’s Wolverine?

It is enormously flattering to read those articles that pop up about Bond all the time and who's the favorite. I enjoy that, of course. But it's all about how much time I have, and these roles need to be respected and a lot of work needs to be put into them. You can't just be jumping from iconic role to iconic role with no time to prep for them.

Your Instagram features pictures of Superman, Geralt and Sherlock, your dog, and every so often, a selfie of you working on your computer. In another life, if you weren't an actor, might you have become an esports athlete or a Twitch gamer?

Oooh, I don't know about that. Those guys are incredibly good at what they do. I don't think I'd ever get to that level, to be honest. I probably would've joined the Armed Forces – a first-person shooter for real, rather than on computer.