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CHRIS HEMSWORTH - UNAFFECTED

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CHRIS HEMSWORTH - UNAFFECTED

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)

 

 

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