MAN OF THE YEAR
IT’S DIFFICULT TO REMAIN IMPARTIAL WHEN WRITING ABOUT CHRIS HEMSWORTH.
Proud Aussie, talented surfer, dotting dad, charitable, grounded, funny, successful. The guy is Thor, for Norse’s sake. He’s as good as faultless, hence the inability to pen sentences even a little objective. Still, we can but try. On October 1, he, the god of thunder and good looks, was up in the MCG heavens – fists clenched, biceps flexed, lungs coarse, celebrating with his parents, brother Liam, and tens of thousands of Western Bulldogs fans. His team had just achieved the improbable – claiming the AFL grand final trophy after a 62-year drought. “An unbelievable day – one I didn’t think I’d ever experience with my family,” says Hemsworth with a grin, as GQ’S fashion assistant slips calfskin Ferragamos on to his size 12s. If elder brother Luke was conspicuous by his absence, it’s because he’s an Essendon fan. Besides, he was too busy telling Jimmy Kimmel how he still makes Chris and Liam cry. But today, the middle brother’s in heavens greener – the Byron Bay hinterland, a short meander inland from where he lives with his family (wife Elsa Pataky and children India, four, and two-year-old twins Tristan and Sasha) and animals (at least three donkeys and a dog, but the pig had to go). A week on, it’s he who’s being celebrated, as GQ’S 2016 Man of the Year. Chris Hemsworth arrives on time and on his own. Like a normal person. He parks – he’s driven himself fresh from a morning gym session – opens the car door, gets out, closes the door, checks his pockets, then walks up to the house. Like a normal person. Upon entering, he pops his head around the corner and says, politely – unnecessarily – “Hi, I’m Chris.” The sun’s out and conversation flows nicely, picking apart the perks of working with Thor: Ragnarok’s Kiwi director, Taika Waititi, to discussing co-star Tom Hiddleston’s Gucci campaign and how it looks like it was shot at a grandma’s (“not mine, though”) house. Chatting to Hemsworth is like talking to a brother – you tease one another (“You’re good at some things but handstands ain’t one of them”), cut the crap (“Hands down, I know all the Frozen songs”), then find agreement in nearly every topic (“If Usain Bolt ever came out as a cheat, I’d be devastated – that would be game over”). It’s straightforward. Uncomplicated. Reaching this point we wonder – where to now? Hemsworth must be bored of articles that wax lyrical about him. ‘Come on guys, what else have you got?’ we imagine him taunting. Aside from the fact we have a friend whose Staffordshire Bull Terrier is called Thor and is petrified of thunder, we’re unsure.
And so, reluctant to further the same dreamy superlatives so often used to frame him, we come to a solution: to gather peers, friends and superhero foes to discuss what they think of the 33-year-old Aussie Hollywood star. What’s Chris Hemsworth like to work with, we ask? What’s he like as a man? And is he actually faultless?
Kenneth Branagh, director Thor
“My early relationship with Chris, when he was bulking up for Thor, was characterised by his need to consume large amounts of protein every 90 minutes. It meant that his response to my most carefully considered acting notes was usually to push a chicken into his mouth. This really stopped me being over sensitive about actor’s reactions, but it now makes me very nervous around poultry. Thanks to Chris Hemsworth, I’ll never be able to make a sequel to Chicken Run. Apart from that, he’s a fantastic fella.”
Sam Claflin, co-star The Huntsman: Winter’s War
“Chris Hemsworth is not only a man. He’s THE man. Not only your man of the year, but man of the men. My main man. Your main man. THE main man. Not superman. Not batman. But a Marvel man. A marvellous man. Thor, man. Man, oh man – to be half the man that man is. I literally AM half the man. He’s a man mountain. I’d have to climb over man-sized men to become the man that man is. Man of the year. Man of the bloody century. Man of men. A Hemsworth man.”
Lynne Mcgranger, co-star Home and Away
“He’s delightful and very likeable and I remember being stuck, always, by his voice – there’s this lovely timbre to it. And he’s dedicated, he always knew his lines and he studied, from a young age, with a vocal coach and a drama coach and never, ever assumed he was going to get anywhere because of his looks, and I don’t think he was that conscious of them. What you see is what you get – a guy who’s a natural talent, humble, hard working and a family man who’s very close to his brothers and his mum and dad.”
Elliot Costello, co-founder Polished Man charity
“Chris Hemsworth is a true Polished Man. He represents everything our campaign stands for. I couldn’t be prouder that Chris has taken a strong stand to support the one in five children globally who face violence. It’s incredible the impact someone as loved internationally as Chris can have on a social initiative like YGAP’S Polished Man campaign. Out of the goodness of his heart, he changed the game for us by posting a photograph to his Instagram followers with a painted nail to raise awareness about violence against children. We’re so incredibly grateful to Chris. He is a shining example how high-profile, positive role models can help create a better world for us all.”
Daniel Brühl, co-star Rush
“I enjoyed every single day working with ‘Hemswurst’! He is such a wonderful and gifted actor and a kind, humble and laidback man. Congrats my super-sexy-schnitzel Aussie friend.”
Mick Fanning, world champion surfer
“I met Chris for the first time in Hawaii. As Aussies, all the surfers used to play touch footy on the beach in the arvo and Chris was staying with a friend there so he came on down. Seeing this huge human running around, I thought he was actually a footy player. I was a little timid to run at him in case he was, and steered clear until after the game. We got chatting and I asked his occupation and he said, very humbly, he was an actor and had just finished Thor. We’ve all seen the success and the stardom that he’s reached but, catching up with him now, he’s exactly the same as that day in Hawaii. Humble, down to earth and best of all a great family man. He’s an icon that I’m sure all Australians are proud of and want to have a beer with.”
Jessica Chastain, co-star The Huntsman: Winter’s War
“What’s crazy about Chris is not only that he is probably the most charming man in cinema, with charisma up the wazoo, but he also happens to be a good person. He’s got a great sense of humour and does a dead-on impersonation of Ricky Gervais from The Office – one of my favourite shows. When Chris first found out I was vegan, it gave him ample ammunition to tease me relentlessly. Take after take, he’d taunt that I was cold because I didn’t eat meat. If he ever had doubt that I knew it was in jest, he’d say, ‘I’m only joking. My mum’s vegetarian.’ He was so concerned about my feelings; he didn’t want to ever be in a position where he thought he could make someone feel bad. He’s the anti-bully.”
Natalie Portman, co-star Thor
“Chris is so talented, super fun and incredibly kind. He has remained the same wonderful and grounded person that he was before all of his professional successes.”
Mark Ruffalo, co-star Thor: Ragnarok
“Chris is one of those rare talents who’s at once physically perfect while at the same time being truly gifted. We had such a good time working together on Thor 3. Every day was an experiment and adventure and if we weren’t pushing ourselves out past our comfort zone we weren’t really enjoying ourselves. Chris is one of the most generous and committed actors. He can be very funny and very serious in turns and has a huge range because of this.”
Rob Brydon, co-star The Huntsman: Winter’s War
“Congratulations Chris, this couldn’t have gone to a nicer man. Working with you on The Huntsman was one of my most enjoyable experiences. Standing next to you in the shallow end of a swimming pool remains one of my worst.”
Taika Waititi, director Thor: Ragnarok
“Chris is cute, innocent, cuddly, and an absolute sweetheart – like a koala, but without the chlamydia.”
Tom Hiddleston, co-star Thor
“One morning on the set of Thor: Ragnarok, I watched Chris zero in on an important scene between Thor and Loki with razor-sharp focus and commitment. The scene required a lot of nuance, but he wanted to hit the bull’s-eye and shoot it quickly, because he had to be off-set by lunchtime in order to make it to father-daughter day at school in the afternoon. That’s a Man of the Year if ever I saw one. Hard working, a much more gifted actor than he’s ever given credit for, respectful and kind to the crew, honourable to the responsibility of carrying a huge movie on his insanely broad shoulders, but also a Dad who knows he has to be there for his daughter. As he’d say: ‘Legend’.”
Matt Damon, actor and friend
“Chris is a great friend – and he’s a proper surfer, but his brother Luke is even better. I’m nowhere near as good – I would get killed if I tried to surf with those boys.” So, it appears he might just be faultless. Huge congratulations, Chris. Enjoy the award, though a word of warning – watch out for Messieurs Claflin, Waititi and Ms Portman. They’re bigger fans than us, and far worse at remaining impartial.
Black wool tuxedo, $4950, and white cotton shirt, $1250, both by Dolce & Gabbana; black silk ‘Petit Damier’ tie, $260, by Louis Vuitton; black leather calfskin shoes, $995, by Salvatore Ferragamo.