Henry Cavill’s recent comments on the Me Too movement were met with significant backlash after the actor suggested that by going up to talk to a woman, he would risk being “called a rapist or something.”
He has since apologized for how his comments were received.
The “Man of Steel” star spoke with GQ Australia and, after parsing through his film career and how he deals with the paparazzi, he was asked about what he’s learned from the Me Too movement.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to not be around the kind of people who behave that way,” he said.
“To my memory there’s been no moments where I look back and think, ‘Ooh, OK, maybe someone shouldn’t have gone through that,’” he said. “I know there have been situations with people I’ve worked with being perhaps overfamiliar with some of the actresses. But, I’ve always walked up to them and said, ‘Hey, are you all right? That’s creepy.’”
The interviewer pressed on and asked the actor if the movement has made him reflect on his own actions, to which he said he’s “never been like that.” He went a step further to attempt to unpack more about the movement, saying that “any human being alive today, if someone casts too harsh a light on anything, you could be like, ‘Well, OK, yeah, when you say it like that, maybe.’”
“But it’s such a delicate and careful thing to say because there’s flirting, which, for example, in a social environment is in context ― and is acceptable. And that has been done to me as well, in return,” he said.
Men’s behavior “has to change,” Cavill said, but “it’s important to also retain the good things, which were a quality of the past, and get rid of the bad things.”
Waxing poetic on men chasing women, Cavill said, “There’s a traditional approach to that, which is nice. I think a woman should be wooed and chased, but maybe I’m old-fashioned for thinking that.”
“It’s very difficult to do that if there are certain rules in place. Because then it’s like: ‘Well, I don’t want to go up and talk to her, because I’m going to be called a rapist or something,’” he said.
“So you’re like, ‘Forget it, I’m going to call an ex-girlfriend instead, and then just go back to a relationship, which never really worked,’” Cavill said. “But it’s way safer than casting myself into the fires of hell, because I’m someone in the public eye, and if I go and flirt with someone, then who knows what’s going to happen? Now? Now you really can’t pursue someone further than, ‘No.’ It’s like, ‘OK, cool.’ But then there’s the, ‘Oh, why’d you give up?’ And it’s like, ‘Well, because I didn’t want to go to jail?’”
This part of the interview sparked a widespread response on Twitter:
Good. Henry Cavill *SHOULDN'T* date until he figures out how to do it without "accidentally" raping someone. pic.twitter.com/RywLedYkpS— Donna Dickens (@MildlyAmused) July 11, 2018
This is absurd. If Henry Cavill doesn’t want to be called a rapist then all he has to do is... not rape anyone.— Helen Price (@HelenRPrice) July 11, 2018
The mental gymnastics some men are doing to position themselves as “victims” of #MeToo is insane. pic.twitter.com/nafnZiaXGH
I don't think Henry Cavill is a bad guy but what he said about Me Too was stupid and even if there is a possible truth to it, the statement was poorly worded and handled— Liam, A Solo A Star Wars Story Shill (@x6x_batman_no3) July 11, 2018
the full extract of henry cavill talking about the me too movement and what he's learned from it. those few things at the end may be stupid but his heart is definitely in the right place. pic.twitter.com/WMWa5PzVmh— raman 🌹 (@etherealcavill) July 11, 2018
Today it’s Henry Cavill with “I believe women should be chased”— Grace Petrie 100% Official Tweets (@gracepetrie) July 12, 2018
When did the notion that being chased is a *pleasant* feeling become so universally accepted? pic.twitter.com/z6kQnCzVrF
Brilliant thread by @HelenRPrice. What a fucking ridiculous statement from Henry Cavill and obviously very telling of his own takeaway of the #MeToo movement. The tone of exhaustion he cuts, disgusting, and the stats are terrifying, and ultimately what the true focus should be. https://t.co/xlGyGwweK4— Charlie McEwan (@CharMcew) July 12, 2018
Here's the thing....— Aunt Lizzy to 👶Maggie Mulder (@PrettyGirlBeMe) July 12, 2018
I do think a lot of women are taking the Me Too movement too far. Like a guy can accidentally brush a lady's boob and suddenly his entire life is over. So I get where Henry Cavill is coming from.
The way he said it was insensitive imo
As evidenced by the responses, while many took issue with what was said, others argued that they understood his vantage point and didn’t think he was a “bad guy.”
In a statement sent to HuffPost, Cavill apologized for how his remarks came across and for the “misunderstanding that this may have created.”
“Having seen the reaction to an article in particular about my feelings on dating and the #metoo movement, I just wanted to apologize for any confusion and misunderstanding that this may have created. Insensitivity was absolutely not my intention. In light of this I would just like to clarify and confirm to all that I have always and will continue to hold women in the highest of regard, no matter the type of relationship whether it be friendship, professional, or a significant other,” it reads.
“Never would I intend to disrespect in any way, shape or form,” it continued. “This experience has taught me a valuable lesson as to the context and the nuance of editorial liberties. I look forward to clarifying my position in the future towards a subject that it so vitally important and in which I wholeheartedly support.”
This piece has been updated to include Cavill’s statement.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.