How YouTube Helped Armie Hammer Star in ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’

“The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” not only shares the spy genre with “Mission: Impossible 5,” it once had the same leading man. But Tom Cruise dropped out of the Warner Bros. picture two years ago, and before that George Clooney was attached with Steven Soderbergh.

At the Monday night premiere of “U.N.C.L.E.” at New York’s Ziegfeld Theatre, director Guy Ritchie explained why he finally offered the role of American spy Napoleon Solo (introduced in the 1964 TV series) to Henry Cavill. “I met Henry over a couple other projects,” Ritchie says. “I thought I could bring out something in him we hadn’t seen before.”

Cavill recently finished reprising his role as Superman in another WB blockbuster: “Batman v. Superman,” scheduled for a 2016 release. He said he hasn’t seen the film yet, but had high marks for his co-star Ben Affleck. “I would describe him as a great Batman.”

He revealed that when he originally auditioned for “U.N.C.L.E.,” it was for the part of Russian spy Illya Kuryakin (now played by Armie Hammer). “And then Tom dropped out, and they thought these two guys would work together, myself and Armie,” said Cavill, adding that he did most of his own stunts on the film that shot for two months in England and Italy. “All the underwater stuff. Some of the driving stuff. There’s one fight we couldn’t do ourselves.”

Hammer knew he needed to perfect a Russian accent for his audition and spent two days cramming. “It was strictly YouTube,” he said. “If you type in Russian, there are so many videos of Russians speaking English or broken English. You hear the vowels and consonants that are ubiquitous. Thank God for the Internet. How else would you get porn?”

As for Alicia Vikander, who plays the female lead Gaby, her audition was on Skype from Australia, where she was shooting another film. “I was on an island, and there were a lot of boats behind me because I was at a harbor,” Vikander said. “Guy just pointed out, and we talked about boats and a silly cat that ran behind me. I tried to switch the conversation to the film. He said, ‘I want to see if you’re cool or not.’” She got the part.

The after-party was held at Bowery Hotel. “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” opens on Friday.

(Pictured: Henry Cavill, Alicia Vikander, Armie Hammer and Elizabeth Debicki at the New York premiere of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”)

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Anne Hathaway Modern Love

    Anne Hathaway Talks Mental Health Awareness, Playing a Bipolar Woman on Amazon's 'Modern Love'

    In Amazon Prime’s upcoming “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway sheds light on an important facet of living with mental health issues, playing a bipolar woman who struggles with dating. “We’re all becoming more sensitive, wiser and more cognizant of gentility, and especially emotional gentility. I think those conversations are starting to happen. And I think the desire [...]

  • Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron.

    Charlize Theron Could Win Second Oscar for Playing Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'

    Charlize Theron walked on stage before a screening of “Bombshell” at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center on Sunday night and announced to the crowd, “I’m about to s— myself.” The Oscar winner had good reason to be nervous. The screening of the Jay Roach-directed drama about the fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes was [...]

  • Charlize Theron speaks at the GEANCO

    Charlize Theron Talks 'White Privilege,' Growing Up During Apartheid in South Africa

    Charlize Theron, during an onstage discussion with her “Gringo” costar David Oyelowo about philanthropy at Thursday’s annual fundraiser for Nigerian children’s educational and health program GEANCO, said she was a beneficiary of “white privilege” while growing up in Apartheid-torn South Africa. “I obviously am a white person who benefited from my white privilege,” Theron said [...]

  • Lyliana Wray, Sam Ashe Arnold, Miya

    ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark’ Revival Team on Living Up to the Series’ Legacy

    The 2019 revival of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” centers around the Carnival of Doom, a place that star Jeremy Ray Taylor (“It Chapter Two”) describes as “beautiful on the outside, but…in the middle of it, there are definitely dark secrets. Variety caught up with the young star during a carnival-themed celebration at Row DTLA [...]

  • Charlize Theron'The Addams Family' film premiere,

    Charlize Theron Speaks Immigration, Diversity in ‘The Addams Family’

    They’re creepy, they’re kooky, and they’re an allegory for immigration in America.  Charlize Theron discussed the changing face of the nuclear family and her animated film, “The Addams Family,” with Variety at the movie’s recent premiere at the Century City Mall in Los Angeles. “When you think of [the Addams] being around since the sixties, [...]

  • Emma Stone attends the Los Angeles

    Emma Stone Talks 'Cruella' Transformation, New 'Zombieland' Sequel

    Despite inevitable comparisons to Glenn Close’s iconic turn as Cruella de Vil in 1996’s “101 Dalmatians,” Emma Stone teased that her take on the infamous villain in the upcoming “Cruella” movie will be very distinctive. “It comes long before her story,” Stone told Variety at the premiere of “Zombieland: Double Tap” at the Regency Village [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content