“IT’S AMAZING HERE”
SHE’S MARRIED TO THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE – BUT IN HER NATIVE SPAIN, ELSA PATAKY IS KNOWN AS THE SEXIEST WOMAN ALIVE. NOW IT IS AUSTRALIA’S TURN TO GET TO KNOW MRS CHRIS HEMSWORTH
Spanish actor Elsa Pataky opens up to Stellar about married life with Chris Hemsworth and why she’s thrilled to call Australia home.
The first thing you notice about Elsa Pataky is that she’s tiny – at just 161cm, she’s a veritable pixie. The second thing you notice is that body – a ripped physique with an Instagram-worthy behind perky enough to rival Kylie Minogue’s. The third is her Spanish accent – a dead giveaway that even though she’s called Australia home for the past two years, the 40-year-old is not originally from around these parts.
Even so, on the day of Stellar’s shoot with Pataky – her first cover with a major Australian magazine, coinciding with her role as ambassador of the new Botanicals hair range by L’oréal Paris – she looks every bit the local. On location in her adopted hometown of Byron Bay in northern New South Wales, Pataky is not the least bit phased by the torrential rain pounding the coast. With none of the usual handlers or entourage in tow, she chats easily with the crew, and compares notes about making meals for small kids.
Mrs Chris Hemsworth is not your typical celebrity. She speaks five languages (Spanish, English, French, Romanian and Italian) and is an actor, model, singer, film producer and fitness guru (her health and lifestyle book reached number one in Spain and she’s now writing another).
But the role she cherishes most is that of mother to her three young children – India, four, and twins Tristan and Sasha, three. Having previously lived in the US (in a Malibu home once owned by Paul Hogan), Hemsworth and Pataky decided they wanted to raise their children in Australia. In 2014, they settled on a house on a lush secluded mountain just outside of Byron Bay for a reported $7.2 million.
“I think it’s the most amazing place in the world,” Pataky says of her Australian home. “Chris and I, we knew we couldn’t live anymore in LA. My dream always was to have a big property with animals and horses and my kids barefoot. My kids are almost naked all the time. this is a special place. And of course, Chris is a surfer so we needed the ocean. So it had a little bit of everything for both of us.”
The two originally made their respective ways to Hollywood to chase dreams of stardom. While her future husband’s trajectory from Home And Away to box-office superhero is well known, Pataky studied journalism at CEU San Pablo University in Madrid, hoping to one day be a war correspondent, before taking up acting classes and working steadily in Spain, France and Italy.
At 26, she made the move to Hollywood and soon after scored a role in Snakes On A Plane with Samuel L. Jackson.
“A big movie, a small role. I had just landed in LA,” she explains. “Then I also had the chance with the Fast & Furious films, which is such a big franchise. Everything, like a dream for me, suddenly happened.”
Pataky was working with a dialect coach to nail the American accent, when her teacher kept telling her about another student, from Australia, who was seven years her junior.
“She was determined for us to meet,” Pataky tells Stellar. “We had a blind date because she was talking all the time to him about me and me about him. We decided to meet each other because she wasn’t going to leave us alone! Something told her we would be good together.”
What followed was a whirlwind romance and a five-month engagement. The pair tied the knot in 2010 during a Christmas family holiday in Sumba, Indonesia, just 10 months after they met.
“It was planned [as] a family trip because we wanted our families to meet as they didn’t know each other,” she says. “It was kind of something we decided in the moment. I hate to plan things. I’m not a planning person; I like to improvise.”
Although the wedding was somewhat impromptu, the bride still managed to find a gown. “We knew a couple weeks before,” she says. “[Giorgio] Armani is a friend of mine, so I called and I told him I was getting married and said, ‘Could you do something for me?’”
As one of the hottest stars in Hollywood, Hemsworth, now 33, could have easily followed in the footsteps of Leonardo Dicaprio and had a revolving door of Victoria’s Secret Angels at his disposal. Instead, he chose a path similar to Hugh Jackman and became a devoted husband and hands-on dad.
The couple regularly post pictures of their adorable family to their combined 10.6 million Instagram followers. The photos showcase their idyllic life, but they’ve also chosen to partially hide their children’s faces to protect their privacy.
“I think it’s important to have that contact with your people and your fans,” Pataky says. “A lot of the information that comes out in gossip magazines is actually not true. It’s all invented. When people follow you, they want to know really what is going on. But it can be our decision how much we give.”
The couple used the first-person power of social media to shut down rumours last year when a magazine reported the pair was splitting. Hemsworth posted a picture of him and Pataky saying, “Looking for a new wife according to Woman’s Day and other misleading outlets! Honey you still love me right?! #thanksfortheheadsup.”
“That was really good,” Pataky says admiringly of the good-humoured way her husband shut down that particular rumour. “He’s very good with a joke and everybody loved it. And it made a statement about the silly things they say.”
Being married to Hemsworth, who has been named the “Sexiest Man Alive”, presumably brings with it some pressure. But Pataky has a few honours of her own, and has repeatedly taken out the title of Most Beautiful/sexiest Woman in Spain.
“It’s funny,” she says. “It’s kind of a joke with us. He’s like, ‘I’m the Sexiest Man Alive,’ and I’m like, ‘I was the sexiest in Spain for years! You have just one [title]!’”
In fact, the petite Pataky posterior is particularly famous in her homeland, where posing to highlight your backside is known as “doing a Pataky”.
“At the photo calls they’re always [focusing] on the front, it’s so boring,” she says. “So I kept turning myself because the back [of the dress] is more beautiful than the front. Of course they wanted to see your face, so I would start turning my head. It became my signature pose. Everyone is like, ‘Do the Pataky!’
“Even the Queen of Spain, one day she was in a photo call and the photographers
were like, ‘Turn around or do something,’ and she was like, ‘What do you want me to do? A Pataky?’ That’s a funny story.”
Over the years she has also dated some of Hollywood’s most eligible men, including Oscar-winner Adrien Brody, who presented her with a 19th-century estate in upstate New York for her 31st birthday. But when asked now about being queen of her own castle, Pataky demurs. “That’s in the past,” she insists.
And what about dating Olivier Martinez, who also happens to be the ex of her dopplegänger Kylie Minogue?
She laughs and waves her hands dismissively, “That’s also in the past!”
After all, there’s probably no reason to dwell on the past when the present includes a devoted superstar husband and three angelic-looking children.
The couple are currently remodelling their Byron Bay property to create their very own private enclave, and have surrounded themselves with a tight-knit clan comprised of family and friends.
While most of the family has followed in her bilingual footsteps, there is one member of the household who has been a little slow on the uptake.
“[Chris] has been a little bit lazy about it,” she merrily reveals. “Bernard Fanning, he is here, and he is married to a Spanish girl and he speaks perfect Spanish. We’re trying to push [Chris] to do it. I’m determined to take him to Spain and force him to speak Spanish.”
Even though it’s her marriage to Hemsworth that has made Pataky famous here, Fanning’s wife, Andrea Moreno, explains it’s very much reversed in her homeland. “Elsa in Spain is like Cate Blanchett in Australia. Pretty much everybody, no matter what age group, knows who Elsa is. The Spanish love Chris because of his humility and good humour, and dedication to his family and Elsa. And his movies, of course,” she adds.
Pataky and her future sister-in-law, Miley Cyrus, even decided to get matching tattoos of a wave personally designed by Kelly Slater while Cyrus was visiting fiancé Liam Hemsworth in Byron Bay last year.
While Cyrus has made headlines for her award-show antics and risqué fashion choices in recent years, it’s a persona that could not be further from Pataky’s family-centric public image. Even so, the two appear to be great mates and are regularly pictured on Instagram together.
Although Pataky has appeared in more than 30 films, including four instalments of the Fast & Furious franchise, she’s now concentrating on projects that keep her closer to home. Her latest is with L’oréal Paris as ambassador for its new premium Botanicals hair range, with the brand citing her natural, fresh and down-toearth nature as being the perfect match.
“It’s really in line with my values, that’s why I wanted to be a part of it,” Pataky says ahead of the Botanicals launch in Sydney this week. “They use sustainably grown ingredients and the packaging is recyclable. It’s important to start noticing things like that. They use non-toxic, really natural ingredients like geranium and coriander.”
The ambassador role is just the beginning of a growing emergence into the spotlight for Pataky, and not just on the basis of her marital status. “We live in Australia and I want to do things here and start working, and for people to know me a little bit more than as Chris’s wife. Not as much [work] as I used to do, because I really am 100 per cent a mum and that’s what I enjoy doing. So I’m just doing little things – we’ll take turns.
“I want to be here as much as I can,” she concludes. “This is home. This is where I feel happy.”
“I want to do things here and for people to know me more than as Chris’s wife”
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS (from top) Elsa Pataky with her family in Byron; in an Instagram post with husband Chris Hemsworth; “doing a Pataky” at this year’s Golden Globes; feeling the love from her fans in Spain.
ELSA WEARS Céline coat, davidjones. com.au; Albus Lumen swim top, albuslumen. com; Prada sandals, (02) 9223 1688
HAIR Brad Mullins using Botanicals by L’oréal Paris MAKE-UP Filomena Natoli
Shot on location in the Deluxe Penthouse at Rae’s on Wategos, 6– 8 Marine Pde, Byron Bay, raes.com.au