There was no escaping Chris Hemsworth in movie theatres this year! The 29-year-old Australian actor appeared on screen in no less than four movies, beginning with the horror film with a twist, The Cabin In The Woods on April 13th; his reprisal of the God of Thunder, Thor, in The Avengers on May 3rd; co-starring with Kristen Stewart in Snow White And The Huntsman on June 1st, and defending America from invading forces in the remake of Red Dawn on November 2nd.
“It’s interesting,” says Hemsworth in an exclusive interview that was conducted prior to the films’ release, “because I’ve probably been in this industry — in Australia and here — for 10 or 11 years, and the last two years have been incredibly busier. Each project has kind of been finishing and before I’ve finished shooting, I’m prepping the next one. But I couldn’t be happier than I am working with people like Anthony Hopkins, Kenneth Branagh, Natalie Portman and, now, The Avengers, with a whole array of big stars and actors that I’ve admired. Same with Snow White and the Huntsman, and now I’m going to be working with Ron Howard on Rush. I never could have asked for anything more.”
One thing that should be pointed out is that he actually shot both The Cabin in the Woods and Red Dawn prior to shooting last summer’s Thor, and since that film he’s shot The Avengers and Snow White. “So it’s a weird mix of time periods of my life,” he laughs, “and there will be a sort of Benjamin Button feeling — I’ll get younger as the year goes on.”
FAIRY TALE SITE: I saw the trailer for The Cabin In The Woods, and while it looks like it starts off as a typical slasher film, it reveals itself to be something very different.
CHRIS HEMSWORTH: It’s such a ride, that film. The first time I read the script, I said, “This is different; this is not your standard horror film or thriller,” and that’s what was attractive about it. It’s [producer/cowriter] Joss Whedon and it has his sort of wit and humor. He takes that genre and puts a whole other intelligence into it, which not many people can do; he has that sort of brain. I saw it recently and you just have a great time – it’s shocking and funny and horrific at times, but then there’s a whole lot of conflicting emotions that you walk out with. [Director/cowriter] Drew Goddard and Joss just really did an amazing job of it.
FAIRY TALE SITE: Speaking of Joss, you obviously had gotten reacquainted with him with The Avengers. What was the experience of working with him as director rather than producer?
CHRIS: It was funny, because when I was on set during Cabin In The Woods, he said to me, “Why the hell aren’t you playing Thor? Have you auditioned for that?” And I said, “I did a long time ago, but nothing really happened.” And he goes, “You should be Thor; this is crazy.” He ended up calling Kenneth Branagh and said, “You really should see this guy again; I’ve been working with him,” and he said some great things that kind of got me back in the room. Now, a couple of years later, here he is directing me as that character. The first time I saw him, he came and visited the set of Thor and we both just started laughing. He had just signed on to direct and we both were, like, “Who would have thought?” Wow, what a small world.
FAIRY TALE SITE: With Avengers, what was the experience like for you as an actor? Because, you know, you’re hanging out with Captain America and Iron Man.
CHRIS: It was a combination of you’re hanging out with Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr. and Mark Ruffalo and this whole team of Academy Award winners and nominees and experienced people that I watch and admire, yet at the same time they’re dressed as Captain America, Iron Man and the Hulk. I don’t know which I’m more intimidated by — them as the actor or these characters. You felt like a little kid. Someone said the other day, “Do you feel weird or at a Halloween party dressing up in that outfit?” I said, “When you’re on set and everyone else is wearing those outfits, for the first time you feel like you finally fit in.” For the first time it’s, like, “I don’t feel out of place with this cape and this big hammer, because that guy’s wearing an iron suit, that guy’s wrapped up in an American flag and that guy turns green.” That was a trip.
FAIRY TALE SITE: Was there ever a moment’s hesitation about how it was going to look to bring all of these costumes together in one scene?
CHRIS: I think they did a great job of toning it back a little bit with the outfits so there was a little bit of a common thread between them. Individually, in their own films, they’re probably a little flashier. In The Avengers, I sort of removed my cape for some of the scenes and that was more Thor’s casual number. Captain America had his sleeves rolled up. Just something that broke the formality of it all, and I think it works for that reason, because of those slight adjustments. I think everyone was scared of that, of how it was going to look, but then amongst the action scenes where everything is so hot and full on, it’s like now you want the colors; now you want everyone to be in their full glory. And then the stuff just kind of launches off the screen. It’s wicked.
FAIRY TALE SITE: How is Thor different now compared to the last time we saw him?
CHRIS: At the end of the first Thor, he’s matured somewhat. He’s been humbled and he’s earned his powers now, but then what do you do? Now put it into action. It’s one thing to say you’ve learned a lesson, but now it’s, like, “Show us that you’re not still a cocky petulant kid!” He’s tested with that; his ego is put to the test. All of theirs are. Everything I’m hearing… I’ll get in trouble for saying anything else, but the truth is that everything I’ve heard is that it’s going to be awesome. It’s all heading in the right way, but that’s all I’ll say.
FAIRY TALE SITE: So, how does it end?
CHRIS: [laughs] And the answer is….
FAIRY TALE SITE: You’re fired!
CHRIS: That’s right. It ends with me going back to digging holes in Australia [both laugh].
FAIRY TALE SITE: In watching the trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman, I couldn’t tell whether I was watching Snow White or Lord of the Rings.
CHRIS: My initial kind of feeling about it was, “Do I want to do a Snow White film?” Because what we know of Snow White so far is this cute sort of fairy tale, and I thought, “I’ve done that fantastical sort of world with Thor. What’s different about this? I don’t want to do the same thing.” Then I spoke to director Rupert Sanders and he showed me this teaser reel of his idea of what it was. All of a sudden I was, like, “Yep, I’m on board,” because there is such an honest sort of truth to it all. Even against this fantastic sort of backdrop, there’s real stories and real characters and heart at the center of it, but all on an epic sort of scale. The theme of Snow White is there from the fairy tale, but that’s about it. The rest is a new adventure and we haven’t seen these characters as they’re portrayed in this film.
FAIRY TALE SITE: And how would you describe the Huntsman as a character?
CHRIS: He’s a bit of a lost soul when we first meet him. He’s a drunkard, he’s been through some horrific sort of wars as a soldier and has lost his wife. He’s kind of given up on life and basically will do anything for a quick buck. If this next job, even if it’s as a mercenary, is going to allow him to get back in the pub and bury his sorrows, then he’s on board. He does that and then his conscience starts to rear its head and he’s forced to kind of sober up and get involved in life again. He’s pretty reluctant at the beginning to be there at all, which is nice because it gives him this whole sort of conflict instead of the standard good guy versus bad guy. He’s pretty messed up himself.
FAIRY TALE SITE: So amidst all this action – and this film definitely looks like it’s got action – there’s a character arc for this guy?
CHRIS: Oh, of course. That was the big attraction to it. I didn’t want to just swing axes and be an action hero; I wanted something I could sink my teeth in to. I didn’t expect to get it from a film like this. This is a real journey and it’s not quite the obvious way it all ends up; it’s quite surprising in the end. I’m glad it went that way. I don’t want to say too much.
FAIRY TALE SITE: Yeah, yeah, digging holes in Australia. I get it. [both laugh] So tell me, which is more comfortable, swinging an axe or swinging a hammer? The world wants to know.
CHRIS: The hammer was probably easier, more unorthodox in a sense. The axes were tricky; there was a lot more technique to it. The hammer kind of tends to be brute force and practicality, whereas with this there’s some flair to it. The stunt guys were amazing – we came up with a fighting style that was a mix of some sort of Samurai influence in amongst your standard… I guess, axe-wielding. There were small throwing hatchets as well. And a whole set of what looked like cooking knives. A number of different blades and axes and hatchets to choose from. There’s actually a lot more outtakes of me screwing that up.
FAIRY TALE SITE: So much of this movie, one would think, is going to be about the connection between Snow White and the Huntsman, so how was it working with Kristen Stewart?
CHRIS: She was great. She had a very strong opinion where she wants to take this character and a real sense of justice. She needed to start innocent and naïve but get to the point where she’s a hardened warrior and will no longer bow down from the pressure of the Evil Queen. We spent a lot of time through the film playing with scenes and working out how to drive the story forward. Is this moving forward or a digression? If it is, we have to work it out and keep tracking it. Which you always do, but she certainly didn’t just roll on in and throw it to the side. She was right there amongst it.
FAIRY TALE SITE: Obviously you’ll be reprising the role of Thor in the sequel [to be released in 2013], and for you as the guy playing the character — forget about the script, forget the director, forget ‘em all — where would you like to see Thor go as a character?
CHRIS: It’s tricky, because what I think worked about the first one was the naivete of the character. We had some great humor come out of that and there was a fish out of water element. Because of his arrogance and petulance, you could make bigger and wilder decisions and sort of get away with it. Whereas by the end of the film, he’s supposed to have matured. Well, what is the next step? It’s a much more subtle, I guess, journey on one hand. I still want that fun to be there, because his cockiness is what sort of sets him aside. A lot of the superheroes are the good, solid guy, the underdog and what have you. Unlike those characters, he sort of broke the rules in a lot of ways. I don’t want him to sort of become predictable. I think that temper and brashness that exists in him should always be there, he just has to monitor it a little more carefully. But I don’t think we should lose it completely. I’d like to see a bit more of an intelligent conflict within him about what his position in the world and the universe is. I think that’s what I’m excited about: having not just him learning humility or how not to be a brash little kid. Now there are bigger issues and deeper stuff to get involved in, which is exciting. But I’m talking loosely; just my opinion. What do I know?
FAIRY TALE SITE: With everything going on with your brother, Liam (such as starring in The Hunger Games), what is that like, having the two of you rising at the same time?
CHRIS: It’s great. I’ve been here about six years and he came across two or three years ago and straight away it was fantastic having him here. I guess for both of us with these things going on, it’s nice to have someone to bounce back and forth with and reflect on it all. And someone who’s also in amongst it with you. We’re very fortunate that we have each other, and we’re so lucky to be working let alone on things like this.
FAIRY TALE SITE: So much is happening now that I wonder what sort of new goals you’re setting for yourself.
CHRIS: The film Rush is my next thing. That is my focus and I try and keep it that way. I try not to look too far ahead, otherwise you don’t pay proper attention to the task at hand. If I can continue working with the people I’ve been working with in films like this and having this variation, then that would be just perfect.
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