By Skye Huntington

This Indiana boy is taking on the Star Wars franchise again with The Last Jedi. Ironically, the role that shot Driver to star status was one that he almost turned down. The HBO series Girls created by Lena Dunham, was what got him noticed in Hollywood, but at the time he thought TV was death and almost passed on the role. Luckily, he reconsidered and is now part of one of the most beloved movie series in cinema. Notoriously humble, he credits his marine core training in helping him to stay grounded. Adam was just about to go on his first tour of duty with the Marines when an injury forced him out of the service. This was a big blow to him, but after dusting himself off he turned back to the acting he enjoyed while in high school, and ended up graduating from the illustrious Julliard.

STRIPLV got the chance to sit down with Adam for just a few minutes to ask him about the latest Star Wars feature, what it was like working with Mark Hamil, and what it was like to step back into the character of Kylo Ren.

STRIPLV: Tell us what the most difficult part of getting back into Kylo Ren was?

DRIVER: The costume I would probably say.

STRIPLV: Where do we find Kylo Ren when the film opens?

DRIVER: We find him right where we left him at the end of The Force Awakens. There hasn’t been any time gap, no time for him to process anything yet.

STRIPLV: What was it like working with the mask?

DRIVER: I mean yeah, it’s challenging because sometimes you can’t see. But, it’s a beautiful mask. I like it both wearing it and not wearing it. The theme of it of people who are hiding behind masks was part of the original. People don’t hide behind masks for no reason. For myself, it was to try and figure out why he was hiding. Why he needed it.

STRIPLV: What is the relationship between you and General Hux in this film?

DRIVER: Very similar to their relationship in The Force Awakens, they are very competitive.

STRIPLV: How was the physical preparation for this film compared to the last film?

DRIVER: Similar in some ways and different in others. The first one I feel like the vocabulary for the fighting style we were coming at it fresh. And on this one, we started filming right after the other ended, so the vocabulary for those types of things was already in our systems. But the rigor of this film was a little more intense.

STRIPLV: What was it like working with Mark Hamil? 

DRIVER:  It’s hard to say, without saying if I actually did. I will say this that being around him he is a very charismatic, generous person who isn’t closed off at all. It could very easily be him acting like I’ve done this before, and he wasn’t like that at all. He was very open to talking about things, and overall just a very generous person.

STRIPLV: You’ve got the legacy players, your cast from the last film, and new cast members on this one how did that work?

DRIVER:  There is no hierarchy on set, and that comes from the top down with Rian. I think even if you asked Mark that question he’d say the same thing. Even though he’s done four of them, he still approaches with not knowing what is going to happen. And I think everyone realizes that and doesn’t want to do themselves or anyone else a disservice by telling them what their experience is going to be. And nor did the original cast do that to us. It’s very personal for every person everyone responds differently to a movie of this scale. It’s a very generous atmosphere.

STRIPLV: The sets for the movie we were told are bigger and more detailed than we’ve ever seen. What was it like to work on them? And did you have a favorite?

DRIVER: No, I didn’t have a favorite set. But I will say that this time, I had more time to enjoy the sets. I think with the first one it was more terror. I was in denial and didn’t take the time to say “Oh hey look, there is a millennium falcon. Oh, ok just put that out of your mind and just focus on the story.” This one because I had a better sense of what the world was I had more time to sit back on the set and just enjoy the scale of them.

STRIPLV: What was it like to portray a character younger than yourself?

DRIVER: Kylo Ren is younger than I am in life. So, it’s the first time I’ve played a person that’s younger than I am. Which is something I remember Kathy reminded me of while we were shooting the first one. And something that was in Rian’s writing innately of someone who isn’t becoming a man necessarily but becoming more kind of entrenched in his ideas. However seemingly ignorant they are or not ignorant just justified to a religious fervor that he is doing the right thing. Something about the youthfulness of him was not lost in Rian’s writing.

STRIPLV: Kylo Ren and Ray contrast each other, but they are also connected in a way. Can you tell us a little about that?

DRIVER: There is this kind of Greek drama that is going on around them. They are these two people who are on opposite sides. They are divided by something that is very thin. The darkness and light that exists in both of us. They are not far off from each other. In a way, they are together on this journey, where they are in life, and that maybe they both feel alone, they are almost each other’s opposites in a way.

STRIPLV: Tell us about how you approached Kylo Ren’s physicality in this role?

DRIVER: If Kylo Ren has been fighting emotionally and physically in his life it has to be reflected in the way he carries himself. That was a lot of it. Not only how he moves in the world, but how he fights and without any dialogue you should be able to get a sense of his temperament. So that is where we started from.

STRIPLV: Tell us about Rian Johnson’s storytelling and directing.

DRIVER: He trusts the people he works with, and that comes down to this cast that he inherited. You still get the sense that he is giving you a lot of creative control. He is just a rare person that can do storytelling that is digestible to a large audience. But he doesn’t feel the need to dumb it down for you.

STRIPLV: What do you think the audience will take away with the film?

DRIVER: I think that is a very personal thing. I think the great thing about this movie is that it is able to balance so many different stories. It’s not just two dimensional. Everyone is very three dimensional and Rian understands that, the way you hope that a director knows on a movie of this size, that there is no animal or explosion that anyone will care about unless there is humanity behind it. And if anything, it lends itself to the story.  It’s hard for me to say exactly what people will take away from it, but I hope it feels as real to them as possible.




By Louis Jackman

Margot Robbie delights in throwing herself into her performances. She once smacked Leonardo DiCaprio in the face while auditioning for The Wolf of Wall Street, she revelled in her character Harley Quinn’s wicked behavior on the set of Suicide Squad and she recently got caught up in a violent argument with co-star Sebastian Stan while shooting I, Tonya, a biopic about the notorious American figure skater Tonya Harding. Robbie became so overwrought while filming the scene that she stormed off the set screaming at Stan who plays Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly. “We got so carried away in this scene where we have this massive fight, and he slammed my hand against a door, and I think I even punched him in the side of the head,” Robbie says. “It was such an incredible intense argument that for a moment I forgot that I wasn’t Tonya and he wasn’t Jeff and I wasn’t on a film set. Sebastian came running after me and asking me where I’m going, and I said I was going to the hospital because he had broken my hand in the fight (it wasn’t broken). I forgot I was acting and nothing makes me more exhilarated when I genuinely forget where I am.”

I, Tonya, which premiered to rave reviews at the recent Toronto International Film Festival, recounts the events surrounding how Harding’s husband (Stan) arranged to have someone break rival skater Nancy Kerrigan’s leg before the 1994 U.S Figure Skating Championships. Robbie spent four months learning to skate so that she
would be able to mimic as many of the complex figure skating moves as possible.

In the meantime, Robbie will be appearing ion Goodbye Christopher Robin, the biographical drama directed by Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) about acclaimed children’s author and Winnie the Pooh creator A.A. Milne. The story focuses on Milne’s relationship with his son, Christopher Robin, who became the basis for the child in the stories and his world of animal creatures. Robbie plays Milne’s wife Daphne de Sélincourt who has a complicated relationship with the troubled author— who struggled with PTSD after serving as a Captain in the British Army during WWI. Robbie Tweeted about her experience on the movie: “Had the most magical time shooting this. Trust me; you don’t want to miss it.”

Meanwhile, Robbie has recently completed work on Mary Queen of Scots in which she plays Elizabeth I opposite Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart. The 27-year-old native of Queensland, Australia married to English filmmaker Tom Ackerly in December of last year after they began dating in 2014 after meeting on the set of Suite Francaise.

STRIPLV: Margot, do you think I, Tonya will change people’s perceptions about Tonya Harding or her role in the attack on her skating rival Nancy Kerrigan?

ROBBIE: We didn’t set out to make the film to change people’s minds or make a particular statement about what happened surrounding the incident. The greater theme is the truth, and there are so many different sides to a single story. I don’t know if people will walk out of the theater thinking that someone was in the right or the wrong but people will appreciate that they didn’t know the full story.

STRIPLV: Did you get a chance to meet Tonya Harding before starting work on the film?

ROBBIE: Yeah, I spent a couple of hours with her before we started shooting, Craig (Gillespie) and myself did, and then that was it. But there’s so much footage in the archives that we could reference and replicate in a lot of instances. But I really did want to differentiate her as a person and the character I play in the film. I felt like if I spent too much time with her, then I’d probably hold back when we were filming, and I definitely didn’t want to do that. It wouldn’t be right for the character.

STRIPLV: What was Harding like in the course of the brief time you spent with her discussing the incident? (Harding has always denied any involvement or advance knowledge of the attack on Kerrigan.)

ROBBIE: She saw the film, and she has been so gracious about it, and she was very complimentary about my skating. I personally would not want someone to distill my life into 140 pages, but she has been very kind and appreciative of what we have tried to pull off in the film. She was more worried about me and how I felt about playing her, which was rather surprising after all she has been through in her life.

STRIPLV: How much time did you spend working on your ice skating technique?

ROBBIE: I spent about four months trying to learn as many of the moves and the kind of choreography that ice skaters perform during their routines. It was much more difficult that I imagined. One big thing I found out was that the real challenge is making the skating look as effortless as possible even though it’s very athletic and physically demanding. Skating is like ballet in that sense because it’s that effortless quality that is what makes it look so beautiful and artistic.

STRIPLV: Did you ever attempt to do some of the complicated jumps like the triple axel?

ROBBIE: (Laughs) There was no way I could even attempt that – only six women in history, including Tonya Harding, have ever even landed the jump in competition. The best I could do was as many of the spins and artistic moves, but it takes years and years of practice to be able to pull of those jumps!

STRIPLV: The relationship between Harding and her ex-husband (they were divorced at the time of the incident although they were still living together) was very intense and complicated, wasn’t it?

ROBBIE: It was only while we were about a third of the way through the shooting that the film took on a different quality for me. They had a bizarre relationship, but Sebastian (Stan) brought such a humanity to Jeff that it turned the movie into a love story that overshadowed any of the other themes. His performance made you believe that what he did (in planning the attack on Kerrigan) he did out of love for Tonya even though that was very messed up. But it changed the nature of the story in a way that I hadn’t expected.

STRIPLV: What was the biggest impression that you came away with about Harding and Kerrigan after making the film?

ROBBIE: That it wasn’t as black and white a story as the media made it out to be between Tonya and Nancy. In the eyes of the public, Tonya was made out to be the devil and Nancy was the angel, but that wasn’t the case.

STRIPLV: You’ve been playing a lot of intense characters lately, particularly in Suicide Squad and now in I, Tonya. Where do you get that strength from?

ROBBIE: My mom has been a great example for me. She was a single mother raising my brothers and my sister and I by herself, and we didn’t make life easy for her. We were always fighting, and my mom had to be a very strong woman to hold things together. She’s an amazing woman.

STRIPLV: What was it like growing up on a farm in Queensland (Australia)?

ROBBIE: It was perfect for kids. My siblings and I went boar hunting, and surfing and I grew up learning more about agriculture and animal husbandry than you could imagine. It was not the kind of upbringing that you could ever have expected would lead anyone into acting.

STRIPLV: So what inspired you to become an actress? 

ROBBIE: I have always had a wild imagination, and I loved watching videos and pretending to be part of the kinds of adventures the characters would get to go on. I was always play-acting as a kid, and I would watch the same movies on video over and over again, and I would then re-enact the scenes in front of my mom. She was a great audience though, and she would wonder how I managed to remember all the lines! I would also put on these little plays for my family, and I would force everyone to pay $1 for each performance! So I always understood the business angle of things. But even after taking an acting course the idea of becoming an actress would have struck me as being just as likely as becoming an astronaut.

How did you get started, then, in the business?

ROBBIE: I had a job in a surf shop, and around the corner, a couple of guys were shooting this movie. By coincidence, one of them introduced me to an agent, and that led to a few guest roles on TV shows.
And then I was cast in Neighbours
(an Aussie soap opera which launched the careers of Russell Crowe and the Hemsworth brothers) straight out of high school. That was my acting training camp. I would often

have to learn up to 60 pages of dialogue in a week by heart and work five days a week and do 16 or 17-hour days. But it was the kind of experience I needed, and it was a very important step for me.

Your colleagues have often said that even though you can be very light-hearted and congenial, you take your work and career very seriously.

ROBBIE: I’ve always put a lot of effort and thought in the kinds of roles and projects I want to be part of. I’ve had a very good team behind me, and for me, it’s always been important to be very strategic about my career. There’s a lot of luck, but you also need an idea of what kind of career you want to pursue.

STRIPLV: You work a lot, and you’ve been living in London and the U.S. for many years now. Do you ever get homesick for Australia?

ROBBIE: I’m always homesick. But it’s not the same as when I was 17 and moved to Melbourne, and I didn’t tell anyone. Now it’s this feeling of not being part of all those crazy dinner conversations we would have. Whenever I go back home, we get right back into it and we all trade stories about what’s going on in our lives. It’s surreal.




By Louis Jackman

It’s the elephant in the room. Publicists at movie junkets the world over are working overtime to make sure the talent aren’t quizzed about the accusations surrounding producer, Harvey Weinstein. Understandably, they don’t want their clients put into an awkward position, considering all of Hollywood has worked with him at some point or another. But when I tentatively bring it up with Chris Hemsworth, he delivers a very considered, thoughtful response though you can tell the Australian actor wants to tread lightly on the subject. Everyone does. “It’s awful, it’s awful. It’s so terrible,” he says. “My heart goes out to the women affected, and I have huge admiration for the bravery and courage. And hopefully the truth will stop anything like that happening again, that’s my hope.”
It’s a classy, poignant statement from the Melbourne superstar who’s easily surpassed Tom Hanks and Hugh Jackman as the nicest man in Hollywood. Refreshingly unaffected by the spoils of the industry, the ludicrously handsome 34-year-old remains open and frank during his promotional duties, always up for a joke, always self-deprecating. And today, publicizing his latest outing as Norse god Thor, is no different.

Throughout our chat, the star touches base on hair loss, flashing the flesh and keeping the spark in his marriage to Spanish siren, Elsa Pataky. He outs Avengers co-stars Mark Ruffalo and Chris Evans as rampant divas and brands Wonder Woman his favorite superhero. He talks kids and parenting, trying to keep a balance and even reveals his anxieties over departing the Marvel universe, whenever that may be. It’s like catching up with an old friend who just happens to be playing the newly shorn King of Asgard who finds himself in hot water when faced against the Goddess of Death Hela (played with wicked genius by Cate Blanchett). He chats about his fears working with Blanchett and why shooting in Australia meant the world to him.  

It’s not enough that Chris Hemsworth is one of Hollywood’s most handsome leading men - he also has to have the best body this side of Dwayne Johnson. This autumn, the 33-year-old Hemsworth returned to action for the fifth time as Thor, the Avengers’ Norse God, arguably the most popular characters in the billion-dollar Marvel Comic universe.

This time out, Thor has seen his blonde locks chopped off and been stripped of his mighty hammer while imprisoned on the other side of the universe. This pits him in a race against time to return to Asgard and stop the ruthless Hela (Cate Blanchett, in her Marvel debut), the Goddess of Evil, from bringing about Ragnarok – the destruction of his planet and the Asgardian civilization. Along the way, he must engage in a terrific gladiatorial combat against former Avenger’s ally, the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).

“A lot of us thought that we needed to push things in a new direction,” Hemsworth says. “So I called up Taika and told him we have got to do something to make (the new Thor film) look different. The first idea I pitched was where we shaved the locks off. So we cut Thor’s hair and made him look more gladiatorial.”

“I was getting sick of myself playing Thor as a stoic, true blue superhero.” So when it came to shooting Thor: Ragnarok, the Australian heartthrob’s fifth time in the guise of the noble Norse God, he and director Taika Waititi set out to make Thor less predictable and more outgoing. 

“The first (Thor) film we made was hugely exciting and amazing, and we built the character from that point onwards,” Hemsworth says. “I did a few more after that, and it was all a lot of fun. I just became a little sick with myself, and what I was doing and the character became too familiar. I felt I had built these walls up, what the expectations about this character were and what he could and couldn’t do. So on this film, we just broke the mold and threw anything that was familiar out the window and tried something different. It’s quite hard to play a stoic and stern still hero, especially because that’s not so much my nature and now he’s becoming a 

little looser and closer to who I am. There is a much more unpredictable tone and quality to Thor’s world now, and it’s more fun.”

Meanwhile, Hemsworth embarked on yet another six-month-long extreme training programme with the help of his personal fitness coach, Luke Zocchi, whom Chris describes as “the world’s best trainer.”

Zocchi and the 6’3” Hemsworth have developed an awe-inspiring regimen that combines cardio, strength, and resistance exercises to help Chris achieve his superhero-like physique. According to Hemsworth, it’s all a matter of putting in the time and having the discipline to stick to it: “I try to mix things up as much as I can. I do a lot of boxing, surfing and lots of protein and weights.”

The routine that Hemsworth follows, some of which he has revealed on YouTube, amounts to a staggering high-intensity training session that begins with barbell curls, intense cycling, and powerful resistance work involving bungees. From there they move on to an intricate series of choreographed core routines designed to build massive pecs and sculpted abs.

The star lives in Byron Bay Australia with his wife Elsa Pataky and their three kids, India who is 5, and twins, Sasha and Tristan who are both 3. 


STRIPLV: What kind of strategy did you have to shake things up when it came to Thor’s universe?

HEMSWORTH: We wanted to give things a unique feel and go in a new direction. I think we did as much as we could with the way Thor evolved in the previous films and so we tried to improvise a lot more this time around. The tone is different, and we’ve tried to push the envelope more. So far the response we’ve (from fans who have seen the trailer) has been incredible.

STRIPLV: How do you reflect back on your time thus far as Thor and what you’re hoping to take the character in the future?
HEMSWORTH: I’ve played this character five times, and for me personally I got a bit bored with myself. We agreed that if we were going to make a third Thor, we had to experiment and take it to the next level. So we knew we had to change his world and what you’re going to see is a very different Thor.

STRIPLV: So it’s you and Mark together again, do you miss the other Avengers? 

HEMSWORTH: No. It’s retribution. Pure retribution. They all went off to do Civil War, and we weren’t invited. So we got together and have made what is probably going to be the biggest Marvel movie ever. I hope. (Laughs). I remember doing the press for Age of Ultron and just kept hearing Downey and Chris Evans and Scarlett saying, Civil War, Civil War” while Mark and I were kicking dust on the sides.

STRIPLV: Well who cares, you have Cate Blanchett on your team.

HEMSWORTH: I got to work opposite Cate Blanchett. The Cate Blanchett. Where do you begin?

STRIPLV: Were you scared by the prospect?

HEMSWORTH: This wasn’t, yeah there’s no way to prepare yourself, I was shaking. My heart was going. And she was coming in as a newcomer, I’ve worked with these big names before but I don’t know, when it comes to Cate, she’s revered. Maybe it’s an Australian thing. 

STRIPLV: I think it’s a world thing.

HEMSWORTH: Yeah, it’s a world thing, what am I saying?

STRIPLV: But she’s so chilled and normal.

HEMSWORTH: Seriously, she’s the most down to earth soul there is. Respectful to everyone, there to do the work, no bull. When someone is that elevated on a professional level, you can encounter less than ideal behavior. Cate couldn’t be further away from that. 

STRIPLV: There’s also a big combat fight sequence between you and Mark Ruffalo reappearing as The Hulk.

HEMSWORTH: Thor gets his ass kicked in this film - mainly by Mark Ruffalo’s character (The Hulk).

STRIPLV: You and Mark seem to get along famously. Was it like that on the set of Thor?

HEMSWORTH: Mark and I always have fun together. We also got to see The Hulk in a very different situation where he’s a champion and a hero in this new world and that sets the stage for our fight.

STRIPLV: So whose diva behavior have you encountered?

HEMSWORTH: I don’t like to say, but I think it’s worth putting out there, Mark Ruffalo’s the biggest diva there is. And Chris Evans. Those guys are the worst. Outlandish demands, the not looking them in the eye stuff. The worst. You didn’t hear it from me. (Laughs)

STRIPLV: Were you disappointed to lose the hair?

HEMSWORTH: The hair was my idea. Who says Thor can’t get a haircut? He needs to change it up like the rest of us. I was sick of the hair, I had it on five movies, so I put the foot down and said, “the hair’s going. Thor needs a makeover.” And by the grace of whoever, the studio and Taika agreed with me. And it made sense; he’s getting old, his hair would start to thin a little. A lot in this instance. That’s what happens to Norse gods. (Laughs) They’re not completely infallible.

STRIPLV: Thor goes through a lot of changes, the hair, the hammer, was all that intentional?

HEMSWORTH: I would have been really bored if we went down the same path, so you know, losing the hammer, losing the hair, it’s thrown him for a loop, shaken things up, made it compelling for everyone involved. Including me. I mean, you know, I don’t want to get myself in trouble here by saying anything sensitive but everything I had done previously as Thor, was starting to feel a little, a little familiar and had we stayed very blinkered on this path, I don’t know how much more enthusiasm I would have. It’s like anything you work on; variety keeps it interesting. And Taika has taken this machine and reenergized and tinkered away and delivered what I think is a very unique, never seen before movie in the Marvel universe. It’s good to take a chance and risk it all. Otherwise, what’s the point?

STRIPLV: He loves an improv session? 

HEMSWORTH: There was a sickeningly brilliant diet for improvisation on set. It was infectious the more it happened. But the best came from this young guy, Darcy, who was visiting the set from the Make a Wish Foundation. What became the norm between everyone during takes was shouting ideas at each other and during the coliseum piece between Hulk and me, Darcy shouts, you should say “I know him, he’s a friend from work.” Bang in there, the best line in the whole movie.
STRIPLV: That’s amazing!

HEMSWORTH: And it’s a really funny line, easily the funniest line amongst a ton of hilarious lines that makes this Thor stand out from the others. And Taika brings his really unique funny edge to it after the sort of well-spoken, Shakespearean slant we already did with the first and second movies. It gave us a lot more freedom than we had before.

STRIPLV: You’re filming Infinity War right now, but do you know when you’re done— officially done with Thor?

HEMSWORTH: I do know. My contract has an expiry date, yes, but quite honestly, after the amazing time we had on this one, and if you lot buy enough tickets, I think a fourth one could be in the works. A fifth one. You never know. 

STRIPLV: Was shooting in Australia all you too?

HEMSWORTH: I did push for Australia. Proudly, I will admit that. The last one we did, I was doing press there and kept getting, when are you going to bring Marvel here? And it made sense; we have the resources, the locations, it has it all and selfishly, it worked out perfectly, being able to be home every night. 

STRIPLV: Elsa and the kids must have been happy?

HEMSWORTH: I’m a father, I’m a husband, I want to be there with my family in our family home, not dragging them halfway around the world, it’s too disruptive on everybody. So if I can angle for that on each job, I’m gonna go for it. 

STRIPLV: How long would it take you to get home each evening?

HEMSWORTH: About 40 minutes. It was the best. Well, it was the best until I’d walk through the door in the evening and Elsa throws me the cloth and says, “dishes aren’t going to do themselves.”  (Laughs)
STRIPLV: You worked together recently with Elsa, what was that like?

HEMSWORTH: That was beautiful. She’s a terrific actress, and it was nice, even for that one week in Albuquerque to share that passion we have for acting and the job and share that together and not have the distractions of family life and kids jumping on you from every direction. That was a really special experience.

STRIPLV: Are your kids big Thor fans?

HEMSWORTH: They love him, but only when they’re watching the films. With all the effects and looks as real as one of these movies can. But when they come on set, they’re pretty unimpressed. They see it’s all fake. They hate it; they never want to come on set again. (Laughs) Although they’re happy to come to the Avengers, set when Chris Evans is there, especially my son Sasha. He says to him, he loves Captain America, “up up” and Chris is walking around with him all day. He’s the greatest free babysitter a dad can ask for. Highly recommend.  My other son, he loves Thor. He won’t let me or his mom cut his hair, which I’m quite delighted by. And my little girl, she loves Wonder Woman. Well, they all love Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman rules my household. She’s my favorite superhero. 

STRIPLV: What about a Thor/Wonder Woman combo? 

HEMSWORTH: If the studios can blend that together, Thor and Wonder Woman, they share the same values and the same love of metal breastplates. (Laughs) 

STRIPLV: Speaking of breastplates, you had to take yours off again for the all obligatory shirtless scene. Wasn’t that something you were hoping to avoid? 

HEMSWORTH: Yeah, that was what I was most pumped about, that there was no shirt off scene in this one, and I could have a gym holiday. For the most part. But then Taika says to me; “I think we need one.” And I’m like, “No we don’t, it’ s been done before, we said we weren’t going to repeat ourselves.” And he’s like, “Well we aren’t, but you’re taking the shirt off. Go to the gym now! This is not going to be the first Thor movie that bombs just because people are pissed they didn’t get to see your muscles!” (Laughs) I made a huge mistake the first time around with Ken Branagh. I set a precedent that’s impossible to maintain. I trained for eight months for him, really went for it. And now I have to keep that up. I want to keep my clothes on. Firmly on. (Laughs)

STRIPLV: Part of the mystique surrounding Thor is his powerful physique. We saw you get emaciated a few years ago when you played a starving seaman in Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea. How do you go from that look to bulking up again for Thor: Ragnarok?

HEMSWORTH: It’s much more fun being able to eat a lot and gaining muscle mass instead of living on 500 calories a day which I did for Heart of the Sea. When I had to lose that weight, I was subsisting on big salads and soup every day, and I was craving food all the time. It was very tough mentally more than anything else.

STRIPLV: When you’re working out for several months to getting ready for a film like Thor, does it ever get monotonous?

HEMSWORTH: You get tired of eating the same food and doing the same routines every day, so you need to be tough mentally. Those are the times when I stop and think, “Hang on; my job is essentially going to the gym, then I realize actually it’s not so bad.”

STRIPLV: Do you think about life and career after Thor?

HEMSWORTH: I do, of course, I do. I have anxieties about that. I know I’m on a trajectory that could easily veer badly off course. Those niggles are in the back of my mind undoubtedly. I’m not preparing, but I’m probably quietly bracing myself for it. 

STRIPLV: Do you think you’ll move in a completely different direction? 

HEMSWORTH: I need to take more risks, real dangerous risks, you’ve got to be smart in this industry, but you also have to feed the soul, give it the dopamine it needs. I do want to take huge risks; I want to be terrified and scared. 

STRIPLV: How do you and your wife Elsa manage with three children to look after and your busy schedule?

HEMSWORTH: Elsa doesn’t give me any special treatment when it comes to household chores. I’m expected to pitch in and watch the kids and do the dishes, and I actually enjoy that, at least the part about looking after the kids. 

STRIPLV: Does your wife still speak Spanish in the house?

HEMSWORTH: She speaks Spanish to our kids, and everyone’s fluent in Spanish in the house except for me! I’ve always been meaning to learn the language, but I’ve never managed to do it. My kids love speaking Spanish, though, and I’m happy that they will grow up able to speak both English and Spanish.

STRIPLV: Has moving back to Australia been an important step for your family?

HEMSWORTH: I think there’s something very unique and beautiful about Australia and I wanted our children to get to know that, and I’m glad that Elsa has been very supportive of that. I hope our children will grow up with the same kind of close spirit that my brothers and I grew up with. My father was surfing and played ball with us, and our mother was always there keeping us in line, too. My parents encouraged us to do what we wanted without ever trying to control us.

STRIPLV: Does Elsa ever speak to you in Spanish?

HEMSWORTH: No, she speaks to me in English, unless she loses her temper! (Laughs)






Greta Gerwig is irresistibly endearing. We can’t help but fall in love with her screen alter egos in Frances HaTo Rome With Love, and last year’s sensational Maggie’s Plan. In person, she’s as delightfully quirky as her characters which are all playful variations on her own mildly anxious, good-natured self. 

Now she takes her existential ruminations to the next level in her solo directorial debut, Lady Bird, a coming-of-age dramatic comedy about a fiercely independent 17-year-old Sacramento girl, Christine (Saoirse Ronan), anxious to escape the confines of small-town life in general and her mother in particular. 

A semi-autobiographical account of her own angst-ridden adolescent experience, Gerwig’s indie film has begun attracting serious Oscar talk as it makes its way through the festival circuit first in Telluride and now in Toronto where virtually every major star, critic and Hollywood power-broker converge. Having previously co-authored Frances Ha and Mistress America with her professional and life partner Noah Baumbach, Lady Bird is a story that has long been simmering inside the 34-year-old Gerwig.

“It feels like I’ve been writing this story forever - at least the last ten years - and it’s about how home becomes most vivid and meaningful when you leave it,” Gerwig says. “It’s about mothers and daughters and how there are no perfect moms or daughters. It’s also about the kind of perspective that teenagers have that there’s a more interesting place to be somewhere else in the world and that’s where real life begins.”

Lady Bird earned standing ovations at its sold-screenings at the Toronto International Film Festival, and both Gerwig and lead actress Ronan were hailed for delivering the kind of reflective, inspiring drama that stands in marked contrast to a sea of insipid summer blockbusters. Variety and other leading film industry publications predicted that the film will be a “leading contender” for awards season nominations for best directing, writing, acting and supporting actress (Laurie Metcalf) categories.

Gerwig Gerwig graduated with a degree in philosophy from Barnard College in New York City where she still lives today with her long-time partner, filmmaker Noah Baumbach, who directed her in Frances
(which they co-wrote) and Mistress America. Gerwig recently appeared in the critically-acclaimed indie drama, 20th Century Women

STRIPLV: Greta, you grew up in Sacramento which has also been home to other top actresses such as Brie Larsen and Jessica Chastain. Is there something about the city which creates pent-up artistic ambition and desire to seek fame and fortune elsewhere?

GERWIG: I’m not sure it’s something specific to Sacramento, but I think all smaller towns have this sleepy feel compared to places like New York or Los Angeles which you think of as much more connected to the world.

STRIPLV: What was the reality of moving to a big city like New York like?

GERWIG: The first few years were hard. I lived a bit everywhere - Chinatown, West Village, Greenwich Village. I first lived with six girls in a tiny loft that was like a closet without heating. In the winter it got so cold that we all slept dressed up, with hats and scarves. I still live there, and I don’t think I could live anywhere else. New York is my favorite city on earth. I love its energy and when I was getting ready to apply to university I knew had to move there which I did in 2002 after I had already fallen in love with every single Woody Allen film.

STRIPLV: You’ve acted in many films about angst-ridden women. But Lady Bird is very different and deals with many different themes about young women, their relationships with their mothers, and wanting a more interesting life.

GERWIG: I wanted the film to deal with a wide range of themes that interested me. But at its core, it’s about the relationship and love between a mother and her daughter. I also wanted to subvert the clichés that you see in most movies revolving around teenage girls where it’s all about meeting this one guy that changes their world. I didn’t want my story to be about that, and I don’t think it’s even true - usually, there are many different guys that you’re going to meet and who are going to influence you or be part of your journey at that age. I think your primary relationship will be that between you and your parents and friends in general. That’s how you relate to the world, and that kind of experience is going to shape so much of how you feel about yourself and your idea of love.

STRIPLV: Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn, The Host) delivers an extraordinary performance in the film. How did you come to cast her?

GERWIG: We met in Toronto during the 2015 film festival when I was here with Maggie’s Plan, and she was here with Brooklyn. I had always wanted to meet her because I’ve always admired her acting and there’s something about her that I find fascinating. I went to her hotel room with the script for Lady Bird knowing that I wanted her to play the part. She had already read the script before, and I thought it would be interesting if we went over the script together. So we sat on the couch and spent the next few hours reading it - she read all of Lady Bird’s lines, and I read the other parts. But by the time we were at page two I knew she was right for the role because she not only brought the kind of emotional intensity and intelligence that the character needed to have, but she also could be very funny and moving at the same time.

STRIPLV: How much of the film is autobiographical?

GERWIG: There aren’t any specific moments in the film that literally happened to me, but the story is very reflective and true to the emotions and experiences I had during that time in my life. I wanted to set the film in Sacramento where I grew up because that city was at the core of my reality and where I could build on the emotional truth of my life there. I also connected to it as the place where I began to imagine a life somewhere else and where New York became this mythical goal in the same way that the green light is in The Great Gatsby

STRIPLV: Was acting something you pointed towards from an early age?

GERWIG: First I wanted to become a nurse. I don’t know why, but I’ve always had this fascination with uniforms and caps. But then I started taking dance classes, and that set me off in the direction of wanting to act in musicals.

STRIPLV: Ever since Frances Ha people have associated you with the way you dance in several of your films (including 20th Century Women and Maggie’s Plan). What kind of dance do you like the most?

GERWIG: I love most forms of dance - classical dance, tap, jazz and modern dance especially because it has a whole aesthetic. Modern dance makes you use different muscles than other styles, and it also teaches you to fall properly in a way that prevents you from hurting yourself. It’s a beautiful metaphor for life: fall, rise, and you transform into a new person. That kind of free-form dance is very liberating and it allows you to express a lot of emotions and thoughts on a different level.

STRIPLV: You’ve long been an admirer of Woody Allen and his films. Like Allen, many people identify you with the characters you play. How close to the truth is that?

GERWIG: My characters all contain pieces of myself but they’re reassembled in different ways each time out. I try to create a space inside myself that reflects the identity of each character I play but then I spin off in another direction where there’s still some part of me there but it’s evolved into something else. It’s like I find a way of playing this variation on the truth of who I am.

STRIPLV: It must have been a thrill for you to get to work with Allen on To Rome With Love?

GERWIG: It was definitely one of my dreams coming true. It was such an honor to get to be in one of his films. I love his work and he’s been a huge influence on me. I appreciate everything about his style of humor, his neurotic intelligence, and also his love of New York.

STRIPLV: What is it about his style of filmmaking that you admire?

GERWIG: It’s his style of humor but also his way of looking at the world. I would like to be able to make films that have that same kind of sensibility and have great dialogue and explore human psychology the way he does.

STRIPLV: You and filmmaker Noah Baumbach have been partners both in real life and in your work for several years now. What is your creative process like when you work together on a film?

GERWIG: We work in our own separate rooms and then we spend several hours together where we often read aloud what we’ve just written or simply discuss some ideas about a particular scene or character. We use that time to exchange criticism and opinions, and then we separate again and we continue to write on our own. Slowly the characters begin to take shape and the story begins to emerge. Reading aloud is important to us and it helps us find the right tone and rhythm to the dialogues. Language is very important in the way it influences the way we talk and move.

STRIPLV: Apparently you always carry a notebook with you in case you find something inspiring that you can write about immediately?

GERWIG: Yes, I like to write down what I hear on the street or in cafés or restaurants. Most of my friends are aware of this and they try to make sure that I don’t have a pad and paper next to me if they’re about to tell me something very personal! (Laughs)




By Jack Wellington

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has an indomitable spirit. He’s the epitome of the “larger-than-life” personality and a man who tries to lift everyone around him with his energy and optimism. When he greets you before being interviewed, Johnson flashes his neon smile and immediately gives you his full attention, albeit laced with the occasional off-color remark.

This year marks a blockbuster trifecta for Johnson, currently ranked by Forbes as the world's highest-paid actor with earnings of $64.5 million last year. Having helped drive Fast & Furious 8 to over a billion dollars at the box office this spring, The Rock may have stumbled somewhat when Baywatch failed to live up to expectations.

But not to be outdone, Johnson has yet another blockbuster film on the way - Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle - the big-budget Sony Pictures' remake of the 1995 Robin Williams film.

"I once met Robin Williams on stage, and I remember completely fanboying it with him," Johnson said. "I just said, 'I'm such your biggest fan.' I was so thrilled to meet him...We wanted to make a movie that was not only phenomenal and paid homage, but something that had evolved."

Jumanji stars Johnson alongside his Central Intelligence co-star Kevin Hart, comic mastermind Jack Black, and Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy 2) in what promises to be the biggest film of the holiday season when it opens in December.

Billed as an adventure fantasy film, the story centers on the extraordinary world that four school kids discover using an old video game console that transports them into the game's jungle setting. Not only do they find themselves transformed into the adult aviators they have chosen, they quickly learn that to play Jumanji means to survive all the perils of the "game."

The 45-year-old Johnson lives in Los Angeles with his girlfriend of 12 years, Lauren Hashian, together with their two-year-old baby girl, Jasmine. Johnson also has a 15-year-old daughter Simone from his marriage to his ex-wife and childhood sweetheart Dany Garcia who continues to manage his career.

The former pro football player, bodybuilder, and wrestling star currently has seven new film projects in the pipeline including a second San Andreas earthquake movie and planned superhero franchises, Doc Savage and Shazam!.

STRIPLV: Dwayne, you seem to love working in Hawaii as much as you can. You shot Central Intelligence there, and then you did Jumanji?

JOHNSON: I love Hawaii. It’s the place where I grew up, and I have a very strong connection to the culture and the people. Hawaii is so beautiful and one of my favorite places on earth. And I love reconnecting to the spirit I feel when I’m there. Any chance I get to go back to Hawaii I’ll grab it.

STRIPLV: You love making these big adventure and action films. How do you feel about Jumanji?

JOHNSON: We’ve made a good film, and I think people are going to like it. I was glad to be able to come on board and work with Sony to get this picture made. I loved working with Kevin Hart and Jack Black who are so great in the movie although Kevin wasn’t that crazy about dealing with all the massive spiders and other insects you find there. (Laughs)

STRIPLV: Very few actors in the history of Hollywood have ever had the kind of year you’re having with three big films in release. How does it feel?

JOHNSON: I want to bring a lot of joy and entertainment to people who are paying their money and expect their money’s worth. I work very hard on my movies, and as a producer, I also try to involve myself in the entire process and make sure that people who see my movies are going to leave the theatre feeling happy and entertained. That’s what it’s all about for me.

STRIPLV: You’re known for having a very exuberant and positive personality. Do you also like to be able to use your energy to inspire others and is it hard sometimes to maintain that attitude?

JOHNSON: We all have bad days. When I get around people, and when I come to work, I try to put my best foot forward. There are a lot of people who depend on me. If we are producing the film, it starts with the company, but then it starts with me. Inevitably, I am galvanizing a lot of people and bringing them together. That in itself will give enough motivation to put your best foot forward. Try to work with a smile. And also I think it’s in my personality.

STRIPLV: What do you do on the days where you don’t feel good or happy and find it hard to be as optimistic as you would like to be?

JOHNSON: If I’m having a bad day, I need to go off to a quiet space and shut out the noise. Because in life, what we do, there’s always a lot of noise, in Hollywood and entertainment there’s a lot of chatter, and there is always a lot of noise, and a lot of news that’s cycling, and it’s just nonstop. So sometimes I need to get away from that and find a quiet space, whether it’s my bedroom or it’s my truck or my trailer, and I will just reset myself and be calm, and I will do a little meditating, or I will try to figure out exactly what the problem is and what is bugging me.

STRIPLV: And what do you do to fix a problem or correct a situation that’s annoying you or affecting how you work on a film?

JOHNSON: l do my best to try and take care of it. Usually, those kind of things are triggered by something that might have happened or something that someone might have said. I deal with that by finding out what’s behind that and then try to get things back where they should be and get rid of all the bullshit. I don’t like there to be any conflict or negativity around me and especially not on a set. A lot of times I’ll drive people crazy by telling them we’re about to get evicted and we need to get to work. (Johnson’s family was once evicted from their home in Hawaii.) You’ve got to motivate people and get everyone working together and share the same sense of purpose.

STRIPLV: You’ve faced many challenges and obstacles in your life. How have you been able to overcome those times?

JOHNSON: You've got to find a purpose in life. Whatever it is, go out and work your butt off and don't ever stop. In my case, sports and later on bodybuilding were the things that helped me set goals for myself and build my self-esteem. Sports made me feel that I had something to point towards in life. I was a pretty good football player, and I was good enough to earn a scholarship to go to the University of Miami where we won the national collegiate football championship in 1991.

STRIPLV: People still like to call you The Rock, which was your pro wrestling nickname. Was wrestling one of the most important steps in your life?

JOHNSON: I wouldn’t have had a career in Hollywood if it hadn’t been for wrestling. I made a name for myself and built up an identity with the public that followed me when I started working on movies. Wrestling was also a huge boost to my self-confidence, and when you’re standing in the ring in front of thousands and thousands of screaming fans, and you’re performing in front of them it’s an incredible feeling. You never forget that feeling.

STRIPLV: What made you choose wrestling after football?

JOHNSON: Wrestling is a family tradition. My grandfather Peter Maivia (a legendary Samoan wrestler) and my father Rocky were professional wrestlers. Grandpa was also an actor. He played a James Bond villain in You Only Live Twice.

STRIPLV: You’re one of the biggest box-office stars of all time. Do you still feel as driven as ever?

JOHNSON: No question, man. You need to stay hungry and ambitious. I’m as hungry today for success and accomplishing great things as I’ve ever been. Maybe more so because I’ve already had a lot of success and you want to keep that momentum and go beyond what you’ve already accomplished. You keep raising the bar. It’s just like exercising. There will be a lot of days where you don’t feel like going to the gym, lifting weights, or doing cardio or go jogging, but that’s exactly what you need to do. You need to have that discipline. The more effort you put into that, the more energy you’re going to have the rest of the day.

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