It’s fair to say that Chris Hemsworth is a great believer in fate. “You never know what’s going to happen, do you?” he grins. “But I guess you have to keep the faith.” You do indeed. It wasn’t so long ago that he was seriously considering giving up on his adventure as an actor seeking work in the cut throat environment of Hollywood and heading back home to Australia but fate clearly had something entirely different in store for this immensely likable young actor.
Now, as he contemplates his starring role in one of the most eagerly anticipated films of the year, Thor, it’s hard to imagine that he was ready to give up on his American dream after long, frustrating months of inactivity and returning to Melbourne, his home city, and re-group. But at the time – back in early 2009 - it just wasn’t happening. And that’s when fate took a hand and Hemsworth’s life changed forever.
Thor was obviously a huge experience for you. Are you pleased with the way it turned out?
Absolutely. I couldn’t have had a more enjoyable time and I felt happy with my commitment, everyone’s commitment - everyone knew they were part of something special, something that had existed long before we were involved. It had a fan base for many years before us, and so I knew there would be pressure. But it was a combination of excitement and adrenaline and I kind of rode through the whole shoot on that! (laughs). It was great – Ken, Anthony, Natalie, the whole cast. Ken is a very down to Earth, good human being and he wanted to work with similar people who were all excited to be there.
Were you a comic book fan as a kid?
No I wasn’t. I’d never really read a comic book. It just wasn’t in my circle and I never really came across them. It’s funny but since I moved to America, you see comic book stores everywhere, far more than I ever saw growing up in Australia. And of course, lots more comic books are being made into films. But since I got Thor I’ve dived into reading this stuff and it’s incredible – great writing, incredible art work. So my hat goes off to an art form that I came to a little late. But I’m very excited to be part of it now.
But were you aware of Thor as a character?
Yeah. He’s the God of Thunder! (laughs) Definitely. Maybe it was through a cartoon on TV, maybe it was Norse mythology I’d picked up along the way, the Vikings and all of that stuff that I’m fascinated with, maybe it was via something else. But yes, I definitely knew who Thor was.
So then you get a call from Kenneth Branagh saying he’s interested in casting you as Thor. That’s got to be a good call…
Yeah that’s a great call (laughs), I’ll tell you a story. I hadn’t worked for eight months, I was living in Los Angeles and I was literally about to pack up and go home. I was just asking myself ‘what am doing here?’ You know, the usual questions and the doubts that you have as an actor crop up. Then I got a phone call from Joss Whedon who wanted to see me about a film called Cabin In The Woods and I went off and shot that in Vancouver. Once I was there, I got a call about another film, Red Dawn, on the Thursday and then, the very next day, they called me about Thor. So I went from not working at all to working flat out –and finding myself being offered the this incredible opportunity of playing Thor. It’s been amazing. But like I said, the lesson is to just keep believing and sometimes fate takes a hand.
That’s incredible. You’re life tuned around almost overnight. It must be fate…
You never know what’s going to happen, do you? But I guess you have to keep the faith. It’s exciting, it really is. I was talking with someone about it the other day and about different experiences in life and what they teach us and the best lessons are the hardest ones. And that period of not working, I really focused on being okay about not relying on exterior force to make me happy. I wanted to enjoy life and I wanted to stop thinking that I’d only be happy when I had a job. It became about me enjoying the moment. And it’s funny because as soon as I took that load off, things started happening.
A lot of people are intrigued by the prospect of Kenneth Branagh directing Thor. What did you think?
I think it’s great. . The first play I ever did was in High School was Much Ado About Nothing and I remember we watched Ken’s film of the play. And so my very first introduction to it all was watching Ken, looking at what he’d done, talking about the film and analysing his decisions and choices he had made. So when I got the call asking me to go and audition for him for Thor I remember laughing to myself and thinking ‘who would have thought it?’ You dream about possibilities but then you start meeting those people who have inspired you over the years – who sort of seem like Gods – it’s an incredible feeling. You’ve seen these people up on the big screen, and they seem untouchable, like they come from another world, and so it’s a surreal journey. And I have to say, I think he’s absolutely brilliant and a very likable, very down to earth guy. He did a fantastic job with this.
You look very fit right now. So have you maintained that training because you’ll be playing Thor in The Avengers?
Yes, but not at the same level. I’ve lost a little weight now just because it’s really hard for me to naturally sit at that weight. But hopefully it won’t take too much to get back there.
How do you feel about The Avengers, and the cross over between the Marvel films?
I love it. I love it as a fan whether it be books and different characters who meet in different series of books or whether it’s films or TV, I love that cross pollination. Like I sit here thinking, ‘hmm, who would win in a fight between Batman and Superman?’ You start pairing them off and this, with The Avengers, is doing that same thing. I also love that we’ve done the individual films first, like Iron Man, Thor, so that you get to know these people rather than bringing them together and introducing them all at the same time, when you would have just ten minutes or so to get to know each one. I think Marvel have been very smart about that. Look, I’d be excited to see it as a fan, so to be a part of it is a blessing.
“Thor” is released and distributed by United International Pictures thru Solar Entertainment Corp.