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R un­ning bare­foot across the dry and dusty earth of Cen­tral Aus­tralia is where a young Chris Hemsworth dis­cov­ered the power of imag­i­na­tion. There wasn’t much for a knock­about city kid to do in the iso­lated cat­tle sta­tion com­mu­nity of Bul­man in the re­mote north­east of the North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

Bits of scrap metal or lumps of wood found in dad’s shed be­came pre­tend weapons and shields in mighty bat­tles of war­ring sol­diers or in show­downs between cops and rob­bers.

Hemsworth and his broth­ers Luke and Liam spent hours mak­ing their own fun in the bar­ren pad­docks sur­round­ing the house or in the foothills of nearby moun­tains.

“We were 4½ hours from the near­est town,” Hemsworth re­called in a re­cent in­ter­view with News Corp.

“My par­ents ran the com­mu­nity cen­tre, which dou­bled as a post of­fice and a gro­cery store. It was in the mid­dle of nowhere.”

It was a world away from his home town of Mel­bourne, where the beach, cinema or shops could pro­vide hours of en­ter­tain­ment on a week­end.

Most of the time mum Leonie worked as a school­teacher and dad Craig was in child pro­tec­tion in the Vic­to­rian cap­i­tal, where Hemsworth was born, and later on Phillip Is­land where the fam­ily set­tled.

But those few stints in the Top End pro­vided ad­ven­tures that the boys rel­ished.

Hemsworth still sports a scar on his left palm, cour­tesy of an out­back in­ci­dent when he was about seven and fol­low­ing the pur­chase of a knife.

He told the sales guy it was for fish­ing and that was good enough for the bloke.

Later, Hemsworth took his new toy to a lo­cal swim­ming hole and while div­ing in the murky brown wa­ter, lunged at what he thought was a fish, but stabbed him­self in the hand in­stead. He has long cred­ited those kinds of self-made ad­ven­tures with help­ing shape the man he has be­come.

“The char­ac­ters I’ve been play­ing and the worlds they’re from, and the ad­ven­tures they’re on — it was, in a strange way, like my child­hood grow­ing up in the bush,” he said in a 2012 in­ter­view.

This year marks a decade since Hemsworth fol­lowed that sense of ad­ven­ture from Syd­ney to Los An­ge­les to try his luck at the big time after a suc­cess­ful TV ca­reer at home.

It’s a path well worn by droves of hope­ful Aus­tralian ac­tors, who have set up shop in Tin­sel­town, de­ter­mined to be one of the lucky few who break through.

Hemsworth made a promis­ing start — quickly land­ing the role of Ge­orge Kirk in J.J. Abrams’ re­boot of Star Trek. J ust as quickly as it came, how­ever, that early buzz went away. “There were eight months where every­thing just stopped,” the ac­tor re­flected in 2015. “I got more and more anx­ious. I was just about to pack it in. I had an au­di­tion be­fore Christ­mas and as I got on the plane, I thought, ‘I don’t give a shit any more. I’m sick of car­ing.’ ” That au­di­tion — his last-ditch ef­fort be­fore pack­ing it in and com­ing home — was for Joss Whe­don’s The Cabin In The Woods. He got the part. The di­rec­tor later said he knew Hemsworth was a star the mo­ment he walked into the room. The star’s for­mer col­leagues on the Chan­nel 7 soap Home and Away agree with that as­sess­ment, say­ing there was al­ways some­thing about the young ac­tor that hinted he was des­tined for great­ness. Lynne McGranger, who plays Irene in the long-run­ning show, has seen plenty of am­bi­tious young ac­tors come and go over the years, and is pretty good at spot­ting star qual­ity. “His path since leav­ing here doesn’t sur­prise me in the slight­est,” McGranger says. “Ada Ni­code­mou and I used to say that he was so go­ing to make it big in Hollywood. What we never picked was that his big break would come within six weeks of land­ing. “But they obviously took one look at him, this gor­geous Ado­nis, heard his voice and saw his tal­ent, and de­cided he had to be a star.”

For three years, Hemsworth de­lighted view­ers of the soap as Kim Hyde, the son of the lo­cal school prin­ci­pal. He has al­ways seen the job as the per­fect train­ing ground.

“As a young ac­tor, I couldn’t think of a bet­ter en­vi­ron­ment,” he said in 2011.

“It was even bet­ter than drama school. You’re re­ally on your toes. You shoot 20 scenes a day, five episodes … you get to work with a lot of dif­fer­ent direc­tors. In school, they tell you how to do it. With this, you’re forced to learn. I’m thank­ful for that pe­riod.”

McGranger re­mem­bers a “lovely, gen­uine bloke” who loved to work hard, adored his fam­ily and was a big softie.

“Hon­estly, he’s one of the nicest peo­ple you could ever meet,” she says.

“And he’s so tal­ented. He al­ways had that star qual­ity, it was plain to see, but he’s also tal­ented and hard­work­ing.”

And yet, Hemsworth ad­mits to feel­ing a deep inse­cu­rity and anx­i­ety, de­spite plenty of praise and high ex­pec­ta­tions for his fu­ture.

He wanted this world — he was des­per­ate for it — but he of­ten won­dered if he was good enough for it.

In one in­ter­view, Hemsworth re­calls “be­ing angsty” for a long time. Was this the right path for him? He wasn’t sure.

“I re­mem­ber (older brother) Luke sort of snap­ping, telling me to shut up, that he was sick of hear­ing it,” he says.

Luke, whose own ex­pe­ri­ence as an ac­tor in­spired the younger Hemsworth to get into the busi­ness, was the one who pulled him out of his own head. And in the end, it was that gru­elling soap opera job that honed and fine­tuned his now fa­mous work ethic.

Hollywood pun­dits de­scribe Hemsworth as al­most ob­sessed with work­ing, pos­sess­ing a “do what it takes” men­tal­ity.

That, cou­pled with his tal­ent, a bit of luck and good tim­ing, made the per­fect recipe for success.

After shoot­ing Cabin In The Woods, an au­di­tion for a new comic book hero film called Thor pre­sented it­self and he had a crack.

It didn’t go very well, he re­calls. He walked out of the room think­ing he’d muffed it.

His younger brother Liam, who’d fol­lowed his lead and moved to LA, also au­di­tioned and was named as one of four con­tenders in in­dus­try press. Whe­don saw the story and phoned Hemsworth to find out what hap­pened. Then

There’s still the fear, the anx­i­ety that it could all end to­mor­row

Whe­don called Thor di­rec­tor Ken­neth Branagh to in­sist he give Hemsworth an­other go. Branagh obliged and the sec­ond chance paid off.

There were no hard feel­ings between the broth­ers, who each de­scribe the other as their best mate. Things also worked out well for Liam, who landed a part in the hugely suc­cess­ful Hunger Games franchise.

On the cusp of su­per­star­dom, just be­fore Thor came out, Hemsworth was able to sit down and watch one of the film’s fi­nal cuts — a prospect that would nor­mally make the ac­tor squirm.

“It’s of­ten dif­fi­cult to watch your­self on­screen, es­pe­cially 60-feet high,” he said in one in­ter­view. “As an ac­tor, it’s an un­com­fort­able ex­pe­ri­ence. But this is one of the first times I was able to get lost in it as an au­di­ence mem­ber.”

Fans were equally en­thused and Thor rock­eted to the top of the box of­fice — as did its se­quel and The Avengers movie, in which Hemsworth also por­trayed the Norse god. I t can be easy to let fame go to your head, says Hemsworth, but his down-to-earth at­ti­tude remains.

It’s thanks to get­ting the silli­ness out of his sys­tem as a young soap star and some help­ful ad­vice from megas­tar mate Matt Da­mon.

“(Da­mon) once said to me: ‘Just stay bor­ing. Don’t go spilling out of a club at four in the morn­ing and you’ll be fine.’ The pa­parazzi (soon) got bored be­cause we are pretty bor­ing.”

Start­ing a fam­ily helped com­bat any temp­ta­tion to get ahead of him­self, he says.

Hemsworth met ac­tor Elsa Pataky through a di­alect coach in 2010 and they mar­ried at the end of that year after a whirl­wind ro­mance.

The cou­ple now have three chil­dren — In­dia is four and twin sons Tris­tan and Sasha are two.

While he keeps his fam­ily life as pri­vate as pos­si­ble, Hemsworth is rarely too shy to gush about his beau­ti­ful wife. He has of­ten de­scribed her as “out­go­ing, with a sense of hu­mour and a pas­sion­ate at­ti­tude to­wards life that’s nice to try to keep up with”.

The fam­ily spends most of the year in By­ron Bay on the NSW north coast, where lo­cals are likely to spot them strolling through the mar­kets or see Hemsworth catch­ing waves.

Both are work­ing per­form­ers — Pataky starred in Fast And Fu­ri­ous 6, among other films — but they have agreed they won’t take jobs at the same time, so the chil­dren are put first.

Hemsworth was re­port­edly in­stru­men­tal in hav­ing Thor: Rag­narok — due for re­lease this year — filmed on the Gold Coast so he could stay close to home.

When he’s not work­ing or play­ing dot­ing dad, the star de­votes time to a va­ri­ety of char­i­ta­ble causes, in­clud­ing the Aus­tralian Child­hood Foun­da­tion and in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment char­ity YGAP, and acts as am­bas­sador for brands such as Tourism Aus­tralia and Fox­tel.

De­spite his tal­ent and enor­mous success, he re­veals that a quiet but ever-present self-doubt never re­ally goes away.

“There’s still the fear, the anx­i­ety that it could all end to­mor­row,” he’s said.

“That’s al­ways in the back of my mind. It keeps me mo­ti­vated. The fear keeps me hun­gry.”

A young Hemsworth with Alyssa McClel­land in Home and Away.

Liam, Chris and dad Craig cel­e­brate the Western Bull­dogs win. Steal­ing the show as Kevin the re­cep­tion­ist in Ghost­busters. Chris Hemsworth, the acro­bat, and (left) with his wife, ac­tor Elsa Pataky. Main pic­ture: Doug Inglish

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