Talking to a Norse God is intimidating work – or rather, it would be if Chris Hemsworth were an intimidating kind of guy. Luckily for me, he was kind and forthcoming and lovely to talk to, though it is slightly unnerving when someone with so much charisma, talent, charm, and beauty looks you in the eye and responds to the words that just tumbled out of your mouth. He has gone through a meteoric rise in the past few years. This autumn alone has seen him playing racing-car legend James Hunt and now he is reprising his role, for the third time (once in Thor, another in Avengers Assemble), as the hammer-wielding Marvel character Thor.
Recently, Hemsworth has been very enthusiastic about filming in Britain. In recent years, he has shot a number of projects here and currently lives here with his family. His current project is a true-story drama The Heart of the Sea with Rush-director Ron Howard, so at the moment he is quite grounded in the UK. I asked him what it’s like filming in Britain as opposed to the glossy surroundings of Hollywood: “The interesting thing about Hollywood is that – I don’t know if a lot of stuff’s shot there any more, but obviously once upon a time it was – but it is predominantly a lot of sets and studios, whereas the nice thing about here is, yes there are incredible studios, but there are brilliant locations to take advantage of.”
Thor: The Dark World certainly does take advantage of different parts of the UK, with a location list involving Stonehenge and, in a very prominent way, Greenwich. There are also onscreen visual references to places ranging from Billericay to Charring Cross. “I love the aesthetic this film has,” Hemsworth adds, “not only do we have Asgard, but we get to see London. Most of these films are set in New York or have that backdrop, so I love that difference, and yes I do love shooting here.”
A lot of buzz, particularly from Marvel fans, has surrounded the love/hate relationship between Thor and his evil broth Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston. Onscreen, their brotherly love is complex. They are, after all, polar opposites when it comes to good and bad. However, at the press conference I attended at The Dorchester hotel the two young men couldn’t wait to show how much affection they have for each other in real life: “I love you!” Hemsworth says to Hiddleston as he talks about his working relationship with the British actor.
Hemsworth does, of course, have two brothers himself (Liam and Luke) so must be used to sibling love/conflict. Did he draw on this playing Thor?: “Well, neither of them have attempted to take over the universe just yet, but I think I’d have the same reaction if they did! We’re competitive as siblings are in everything from sport and backyard cricket in the back yard to who is controlling the remote control when watching TV. In this industry, not so much. All three of us understand the frailty of the work and help each other with auditions, always have and whatever scripts you are working on. You’re not in direct competition anyway. It’s more a kind of team effort than anything else.”
His experience in siblings did influence his acting in one specific scene, though, as he goes onto explain: “In one of the scenes, in the spaceship exiting Asgard, Tom and I were pretty insistent that this should feel like being in the backseat with your siblings – we couldn’t get 100 metres down the road without one of us going “Get off me, don’t touch me, go this way!”. That certainly plugged into that scene. And having that love/hate kind of thing where you’d do anything for them but the simplest thing is going to annoy you. Certainly I’d try to draw from any experiences I’ve been through and empathise with frustrations I’ve had”.
Thor: The Dark World (2013) was released in the UK on October 30 by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Chris Hemsworth and others spoke at the UK press event organised by The Walt Disney Company, Images: Disney.
As seen in Issue 3 of The Edge magazine.