Henry Cavill Is a World War II Superhero in Guy Ritchie’s New Movie

Movies


The Big Picture

  • Henry Cavill and the cast portray a special forces mission to stop Germany’s world domination plans in a fun, mad, and deadly Guy Ritchie film.
  • Ritchie’s directing style brings spontaneity to set, changing scenes on the fly to keep the cast on their toes for an exciting and creative experience.
  • Based on a true story, the film highlights the incredible bravery of a small group of soldiers who changed the course of WWII history.


For his latest film, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (Top Gun: Maverick), Guy Ritchie (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) has assembled a suicide squad of epic talent in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. Based on an unbelievable true story, Henry Cavill (Man of Steel) leads an ensemble cast into the trenches of World War II, where their mission — the first special forces mission ever — is to, essentially, “scupper Germany’s entire plans to take over the world.” Oh, and to kill as many Nazis as possible.


Cavill and the cast take this job very seriously. In this interview with Collider’s Steve Weintraub, co-stars Alex Pettyfer (Magic Mike), Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians), and Hero Fiennes Tiffin (After) join Cavill to discuss what it’s like working on the set of a Guy Ritchie movie, and work together to figure out who had the highest kill count. The premise of the movie is that each member of this motley crew is especially skilled in some area of combat, but they’re also all a bit mad, and extremely passionate about what they do. The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare also stars Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride), Alan Ritchson (Reacher), Babs Olusanmokun (Dune), and Eiza González (3 Body Problem).


For more on their unconventional character development, script changes, and the story behind said script, check out the full interview in the video above, or you can read the transcript below.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

The British military recruits a small group of highly-skilled soldiers to strike against German forces behind enemy lines during World War II.

Release Date
April 19, 2024

Writers
Guy Ritchie , Paul Tamasy , Eric Johnson , Arash Amel

Distributor(s)
Lionsgate


Henry Cavill Enjoys the Kill in ‘The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare’

Henry Cavill as Gus March-Phillipps in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare
Image via Lionsgate

COLLIDER: Henry, I have an individual question for you. I really wanna know who decided on the tongue and the facial hair.


HENRY CAVILL: The facial hair was me. That was something which I just thought, “Have some fun with it. World War II, have a crazy mustache, slightly mad characters. Let’s really lean into it.” And then the tongue was Guy. The way we were playing it was very World War II, as you’d imagine — sort of a British gentleman with a twinkle in his eye, and he went, “I want you to really enjoy this killing. Do something like stick your tongue out.” And so we did. And then when we found that, we leaned into it even further and that just became a cornerstone for the character.

It’s very weird to say a movie is fun when it involves as much killing, but it’s all Nazis, so fuck ‘em.

HERO FIENNES TIFFIN: Nazis and zombies. I don’t know if there are any other ones that you’re allowed to just– They had me at Guy Ritchie and Nazis. Sold.

Henry Cavill, Henry Golding, Alan Ritchson, Alex Pettyfer-hero-fiennes-Tiffin, in character on a ship, in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare
Image via Lionsgate

100%. Did you actually figure out the number of people you kill? Because, honestly, I think it’s in the thousands.


TIFFIN: I was keeping track, and quickly it was like, “I can’t do it.”

HENRY GOLDING: We’re trying to figure out who had the most.

TIFFIN: You got a lot at one moment.

GOLDING: There’s one moment where I get a fair amount.

TIFFIN: Actually, at the start, without any spoilers, I think you win there. [Laughs]

ALEX PETTYFER: [To Golding] I would actually arguably say that you do the most in the film without doing much. [Laughs]

Henry Cavill Says Guy Ritchie’s Direction Style is Freeing

Henry Cavill and Guy Ritchie on the sets of The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare
Image via Henry Cavill’s Instagram account.

One of the things about Guy is, I’ve seen him work on set and what’s fascinating about his process is it’s so different than other directors, where the morning of, he might say, “Yeah, the dialogue is not working,” or basically flip it on its head the day of. As actors, what is it like when Guy just flips everything, and what was the biggest change on set from what you thought you were gonna film or say to what you actually said?


PETTYFER: Well, originally, I was playing Henry’s character and Henry was playing mine, and through the dialogue we managed just to switch characters. [Laughs] But I think there is a beauty to what Guy does. I think when you come in and there’s a spontaneity, it brings a freshness, and we’re all in the same boat. There’s a real collaborative experience when you are sitting there and it’s not necessarily the scenes that are changing, but just the interaction between the characters. It’s the first time that I’ve gone on to a movie and haven’t done any prep, and built a character with a director and the rest of the cast, and what a fun experience that is. Nerve-wracking, but…

GOLDING: Alex is being coy, in fact, because he turned up on set with this amazing, kind of a bit of a Cockney accent. “Alright, lads…”

PETTYFER: [Laughs] By the way, this is my first day, the first camera roll for me and all of us that were all in the room together. But yeah, carry on.


GOLDING: He’s the strategist, so he’s like, “Oh, the maps here… Yeah, we’re gonna do this…” and then Guy comes on set immediately after take one, and he’s like, “Well, Alex, the accent is not working. Can we posh him up a little bit?” And they completely changed his character in five minutes.

PETTYFER: On the spot.

GOLDING: And so for an actor, if you’re not flexible and pliable in the way that he is, you would struggle. I think that’s a quick learning curve for a lot of us. You just never know what’s going to happen, so you have to be on your feet.

That’s what I mean. It’s fascinating to me how there’s so many different directors and all the processes are different, but they all can make great movies. So for all of you guys, you see the shooting schedule, you know what’s in front of you, what’s the day you have circled in terms of, “I cannot wait to film this?”

TIFFIN: Well, you’d never know what happened.


PETTYFER: I mean, that’s a contradiction to the answer you just gave.

TIFFIN: The first day, you’re like, “Oh yeah, I’m excited for tomorrow,” and then you realize that you didn’t do anything that you were told you were going to do that day. It’s actually really, as you said, if you are somewhat malleable and ready to roll with punches, it’s so fun because you just wake up and go, and you just gotta be, as I say, ready to roll with the punches. That spontaneity and liveliness on set, it births so much fun in the moment, and hopefully on screen.

CAVILL: Yeah, it’s very freeing because you’re not having to worry too much about– You’ll see the script, and there’ll be pages of dialogue and you’ve got, like, eight pages of shooting a day…

TIFFIN: Although you had about half an hour to learn them. [Laughs]


CAVILL: But sometimes that happens. You have a whole monologue, and you’re like, “This is a bit panicky.” But other times you’re going, “Well, I know the line’s gonna change in the morning, so I’m gonna get an idea of what the scene is about.” It really feels like a troupe of actors. You’re working with the crew to build a scene, Guy’s literally saying, “Grab that barrel over there,” and people are going, “We don’t own that barrel.” He’s like, “Grab it and put it in here.” And it does feel very free, and you get to be super creative, and your character starts to take on a new life because there’s no restrictions on the character. It can do anything in that moment which serves the scene and the story.

‘The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare’ Is a Story of World War II Superheroes


Last question for you guys. Maybe the audience won’t know that this is based on real people. Some of the characters are real, some have been made up, but it’s pretty crazy what these people did at age 20 to 24. This is the first special forces group, like, ever. Can you guys sort of touch on the real true story and how amazing it is?

CAVILL: The true story went considerably better than our story went. I mean, Guy has definitely made it slightly more exciting, but it was a suicide mission. There was no way that they were going to survive this, and they thought, “Let’s take a swing at it. These guys are crazy enough. We got him out of the brig. We’ll just train them up and then send them off and then try and cancel it halfway through. And they went and did it anyway, and were enormously successful and changed the course of the war with a single mission. Without these guys having done what they did, the Americans may not have joined the war.

GOLDING: Can you imagine? It was just a handful of men who sailed to the hinge of Africa on their own to essentially scupper Germany’s entire plans to take over the world.


CAVILL: It’s extraordinary what they did. If it wasn’t true, you wouldn’t believe it. You’d be like, “That’s a ridiculous story. That’s superhero stuff.”

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare hits theaters on April 19.

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