updated 05/04/2011 AT 5:00 PM ET
•originally published 05/04/2011 AT 5:35 PM ET
Henry Cavill didn’t even make it into his Man of Steel uniform before he broke hearts around the world.
The British actor, who has been cast in the next Superman film, is engaged to Ellen Whitaker, his rep confirms to PEOPLE.
Cavill popped the question to Whitaker, an athlete in training with the goal of making the British showjumping team for the 2012 Olympics, while they were on a trip to Hollywood, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
“I couldn’t believe it when he asked me to marry him,” the newspaper quotes Whitaker saying. “I thought we were there to celebrate his birthday. It was such a surprise and I am so happy.”
Before asking for Whitaker’s hand, Cavill, who turns 28 on Thursday, reached out to her father, Stephen, to ask his permission. The answer appears to have been yes.
Superman: The Man of Steel is set for release in Dec. 2012.
With reporting by JULIE JORDAN