"I thought, 'Oh my goodness. I'm Superman.'" Cavill said. "I didn't do anything for about five minutes, just going, 'I don't quite know what to do with myself. Did that really happen?' And so, I called round and no one picked up their phones."
But at first Cavill wasn't sure the role of Superman was in his future. During his final "Man of Steel" audition, he was asked to put on a replica of the late Christopher Reeve's Superman suit.
"I wasn't physically ready for the suit," Cavill said. "It's basically a Spandex outfit and I just thought, 'There's no way I'm getting this role.' I mean, you can act as hard as you want, but you can't act not fat."
Battered by frustration and disappointment well into his career, Cavill was once known more for the roles he had almost played -- Cedric Diggory in "Harry Potter," James Bond, even Superman in a J.J. Abrams-written version that was never shot. Cavill said he got to the point where he thought his big break might not come.
"I was getting very close to a lot of jobs, and then not getting them, and I mean, not the big stuff which we hear about. But I started to think, maybe I'm not the guy? Maybe I should leave and join the forces," he said.
Cavill's two older brothers were in the military, and it would have beat bartending. But just being in the 007 conversation -- though he lost out to Daniel Craig -- gave him the confidence to push on.
"It's incredibly surreal," Cavill said. "It might even take me months to process, years to process, but it's just great to be here."