How To Live For 100 Years: Glass talks to Henry Cavill, David and Bonita Spencer-Percival

FOUR years ago David and Bonita Spencer-Percival stumbled across a newspaper article entitled: “Who Wants to Live 100 Years?” Like any good ideas man (and David is one of the best), he made it his goal to find the answer to that question, and bottle it for the masses. What followed was a journey to Acciaroli, Italy, a village with the world’s greatest density of citizens living beyond 100 years old, with remarkably low rates of physical and mental illnesses. The key to Acciaroli’s proverbial fountain of youth: rosemary. David Spencer-Percival, one of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs and Bonita, a former ballerina who now works in tandem with her husband, have since made it their mission to harness the herb’s health benefits in the form of a clean, environmentally friendly water.

Somewhere along the way they brought in long-time No 1 Rosemary Water devotee, and present-day shareholder/in-house storyteller: actor, Henry Cavill. I meet the trio (and Cavill’s ginormous dog) in the suite of a Soho hotel, and can’t help but feel I’m stepping into some abstract joke: “a businessman, a ballerina and Superman walk into a bar …”.

So, how did the three of you end up working together?
Henry Cavill
: I was keen to start my own water; I wanted it to be environmentally responsible and ethically produced, and I’d actually started to search out springs, I’d started researching pH values and so on. And then I was introduced to David and Bonita. I tried their rosemary water, and was drawn to the unique flavour straight off the bat.

I quickly realised that my body wanted more, and more, and more of it. I became addicted! I was asking for more to be sent, and was actually jealously guarding my rosemary water from anyone in my team. Eventually I got to meet David and Bonita and we got on like a house on fire.

henry-cavill-water-1Sailing into Acciaroli with Henry Cavill for the No 1 Rosemary Water featurette

Bonita Spencer-Percival In a roundabout way, we saved Henry from having to create his own water company, which let me tell you is not easy, and ended up having him on board too.

David Spencer-Percival We heard Henry was drinking it. When we finally spoke, one of the questions Bonita and I were asked was, “Is there anything addictive in it?” And we said, “No it’s just pure, fresh rosemary extract and water.”

Once we heard Henry was a fan we just thought “wow, this is really interesting” – obviously he’s fabulous and very, very healthy, and our plan was always to create a drink that was as clean as possible in every single way: no plastic, no additives.

Bonita Spencer-Percival We wanted to imbibe what the wonderful villagers (of Acciaroli) were eating. They eat fresh rosemary; they put it in their cooking; they have it on pizza; they have it in risotto … that’s what they eat. So we didn’t want anything else, but that rosemary, in our drink.

David Spencer-Percival I think Henry recognised that we were on a bit of a mission to create something that was not just very good, but something that has never been made before, anywhere in the world. It was a meeting of minds really. We there down as a three and said ”right, what do we do next?” We weren’t really sure. And it was Henry that said, “Let’s go back to the story of the village. Let’s go down to Acciaroli. Let’s film the villagers. Let’s find out what’s happening down there.” And it really is incredible there; they’re living to 100 in vast numbers – the highest density anywhere in the world.

Bonita Spencer-Percival But really it’s more than that. They are fewer cases of Alzheimer’s, dementia, arthritis, cataracts, and lower cancer rates. So there are people not just living to 100, but living well. They go sailing, some drink and some even smoke – the fact is, they are living the full life they wish to live.

Henry Cavill There’s a happy balance of life, as opposed to being an ultra-disciplined monk in order to live longer. These people are having a glass of wine and a cigarette – and I do not condone smoking, or drinking in vast amounts – but these people are living their lives normally. It’s because, thanks to the rosemary, they have all these healthy compounds going into their systems, working in synergy with one and other.

One of the big parts of the drink’s success, is that David and Bonita found a way to extract every single compound from rosemary – not just one or two – operating in a similar way to how modern medicines are developed. All these compounds work in synergy; their relationship with one and other is what makes them so healthy; and this is what does such wonderful things to the body and the brain.

henry-cavill-water-2Henry Cavill, left, and David Spencer-Percival, centre, talk shop in Acciaroli

Did anyone have a background in herbs and botanicals prior to this?
Bonita Spencer-Percival No we don’t. David was running a hugely successful global company, and he read this article about this Italian village and said, “We need to eat much more rosemary.” I’m 21 years older than my husband, and it would be nice to have a long life together, a longer life. So we tried eating lots of rosemary, but it’s quite hard to eat, when you like to eat Chinese, Japanese food as many different cuisines as we do. So David said, “I’m going to make it in a drink.”

So off he went on this enormous voyage of discovery. We’re learning a lot, we’ve dragged Henry into the voyage along the way, willingly I might add. When we met Henry it just felt right. We were all very interested in the same things. He’s very inquisitive. And it’s so funny, I know they look nothing alike, but they are quite similar when I talk to both of them!

David Spencer-Percival A bit like the film Twins, you know with Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Bonita Spencer-Percival They’re very similar in the fact that they’re both tenacious, they want to know the answers behind everything we don’t understand. It really was a meeting of minds. I understand my husband and I think I understand Henry a little bit now. The thing is with Henry, when he drinks the drink, because he’s very in tune with his body, because he’s such a purist about what he puts into his body, anything he consumes seems to effect him so acutely, which was really interesting for us. To watch his physical reaction – he’s an amazing case study. Most of all though, the three of us have such fun working together.

henry-cavill-water-4On set with Henry Cavill, and a bottle of No 1 Rosemary Water

Henry Cavill That’s really the key idea behind the whole project – enjoying life. And I feel like we’re doing that. From the first time we met it was a partnership, I’m not just here as an ambassador, I’m a shareholder. It’s why David and I got along so well, I would fire questions at him, he would always be so receptive, and eventually he’d come back with the answers. It became clear that he wasn’t faking anything. So I said great, you do your bit, I’ll do the storytelling, let’s do this together.

David Spencer-Percival The message needs to be amplified. We’re small, we can punch hard with advertising but it’s a war of attrition. When someone like Henry stands up people listen, so for us that was perfect. The story of our water is an amazing story. It’s a story that needs to be told, and needs to be heard.

How would you describe the physical impact of drinking No 1 Rosemary Water? Do you get a visceral response?
Henry Cavill
 Absolutely, even within 20 minutes. I obviously work very, very long hours, especially on The Witcher where I’ve got lots of hair and make up every morning. Then there’s gym after a 13-14 hour shooting day, plus each morning I’m learning lines in the trailer. I’ve got to prep for a scene, do rewrites and prep for stunt scenes. When I drink this, my mental acuity goes through the roof. I really do feel sharper, more alert and awake.

My lines stick in my head, rather than me saying: “What was that bit again?” It’s uncanny, everything just became a very, very easy flow, and it genuinely was down to No 1 Rosemary Water. You know how when you have a cup of coffee in the morning and you feel a bit sharper? This is a completely different kind of sharp. It’s clean – it doesn’t make you feel jittery or suddenly amped up, you just feel sharper. It genuinely affects you. If it didn’t, I would say, “OK,  it’s a nice flavoured water guys, nothing more. Thanks, but no thanks.” But this is different, it actually works.

by Charlie Navin-Holder

No 1 Rosemary Water is available at Ocado, Planet Organic and Amazon