12 STRONG

From As­gard to Afghanistan, how Chris Hemsworth took on the Tal­iban in 12 Strong

Empire (Australasia) - - Contents - WORDS JAMES WHITE

Chris Hemsworth goes to war in a film that should be called Horse: Rag­narok.

IN THE MID­DLE of a New Mex­ico desert, tanks are aflame, ex­plo­sions tear up the dirt and Afghan war­riors on horse­back ride into bat­tle. It’s all in ser­vice to 12 Strong (for­merly Horse Sol­diers), the true-life tale of a squad of Amer­i­can Spe­cial Forces, dis­patched to Afghanistan af­ter 9/11 to fight the Tal­iban along­side lo­cal tribes­men, swap­ping mod­ern ma­chin­ery for mares to nav­i­gate the moun­tain­ous ter­rain.

Af­ter flex­ing his com­edy mus­cles in

Thor: Rag­narok, here is a re­minder that Chris Hemsworth can still do tough, se­ri­ous, gritty ac­tion. He’s not phased by the con­di­tions. “This is most days,” Hemsworth tells Em­pire on set, mat­ter-of-factly. “Dirty, ex­plo­sions, gun­fire, run­ning around in heavy gear in the sand. I’m fuck­ing busy, but we’re get­ting some great stuff.”

Hemsworth is cap­tain of a cast which in­cludes Tre­vante Rhodes, Michael Peña and Michael Shan­non — all tak­ing or­ders from di­rec­tor

Ni­co­lai Fuglsig, a pho­to­jour­nal­ist who swapped snaps for shorts and ads, now bring­ing the story of the un­likely Afghan-amer­i­can al­liance to the big screen. “I knew we’d put a strong team to­gether, and I wanted to find a strong leader,” Fuglsig says. “Chris has such an ex­u­ber­ance of lead­er­ship.”

Inevitably, with such a clus­ter of testos­terone, there were also work­out com­pe­ti­tions on set. Surely the God Of Thun­der can bench more than most? “Not when

Tre­vante’s around!” chuck­les Hemsworth, who met his match with Moon­light’s mus­cle-bound break-out star. “Peo­ple were say­ing to me: ‘Aren’t you sup­posed to be Thor?’ Ap­par­ently not when I’m stand­ing next to that guy!’” He may be back on Earth, but some As­gar­dian spirit re­mains.

Clock­wise from left:

Geoff Stults and Chris Hemsworth mid-fray on lo­ca­tion; Di­rec­tor Ni­co­lai Fuglsig briefs his star; Michael Shan­non takes aim.

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