Chris Hemsworth

Why Marvel su­per­hero Chris Hemsworth turned his back on the Hol­ly­wood life­style to go home and keep it real in Australia*.

Esquire (Singapore) - - Style -

The

sched­ule for our pho­to­shoot and in­ter­view is hec­tic. Hemsworth has been an­nounced as the new face of the Hugo Boss fra­grance, BOSS BOT­TLED, and he has a rigid three­day pro­gramme filled with brand pre­sen­ta­tions and back-to-back in­ter­views. He flew in from Australia to the Hugo Boss head­quar­ters in Stuttgart, Ger­many, 24 hours prior to our pho­to­shoot, and is fear­ful of the jet­lag he knows could rear its ugly head at any minute. “I feel okay,” he says, al­most try­ing to con­vince him­self. “But tonight I’m go­ing to feel it; it’s al­ways the third day that kills me.”

Dressed ca­su­ally in a baggy T-shirt and jeans, he ex­udes the Aus­tralian way of life from across the room, em­body­ing the surfer dude life­style we all imag­ine we’d all adopt if we were in that part of the world. “We’re all a prod­uct of our en­vi­ron­ment, to an ex­tent, and there is the ob­vi­ous laid-back qual­ity that Australia is known for,” he says. “I’m sure that helped a bit to sep­a­rate me from the crowd,” he an­swers when asked how this per­cep­tion helped shaped his ca­reer.

As we set­tle down to talk af­ter the shoot, he talks about how, in the be­gin­ning, he used this Aussie stereo­type to his ad­van­tage. “I re­mem­ber when I first got to LA, I gen­uinely could have told sto­ries about rid­ing kan­ga­roos and wrestling croc­o­diles and they’d have eaten it up! So you’d tend to em­bel­lish a lit­tle bit at times,” he says with a twinge of both guilt and nos­tal­gia, ad­mit­ting that the whole “Aus­tralian” thing has be­come less of a nov­elty. “Nowa­days, if you turn up to a cast­ing call and you’ve got an Aussie ac­cent, it’s sort of like ‘Nice. But what else have you got?’ That ship has un- for­tu­nately sailed.”

If Hemsworth is be­ing a lit­tle tongue-in-cheek about the ben­e­fits of his her­itage, he will ad­mit that coming from the other side of the world had a more pro­found im­pact on his move to LA “As an Aus­tralian, you’ve kind of psy­ched your­self up be­cause you’ve packed your bags and come all that way and you know it’s your one shot.”

That move to Hol­ly­wood, which he made in 2008, aged 24, fol­lowed on from his early act­ing life on the hum­ble beaches of long-run­ning Aussie soap Home and Away, in which he played rene­gade heart­throb Kim Hyde from 2004 to 2007. He has gone on to be­come one of the most suc­cess­ful ac­tors in Hol­ly­wood to­day. Star­ring in block­buster hits like Star Trek (2009), his first Hol­ly­wood break, the thriller A Per­fect Get­away (2009), the hor­ror com­edy The Cabin in the Woods (2012), the dark-fan­tasy ac­tion film Snow White and the Hunts­man (2012), war film Red Dawn (2012), ac­tion thriller Black­hat (2015), and Sony’s re­cent re­boot of Ghost­busters (2016) along­side Melissa McCarthy and Kris­ten Wiig, which saw the ac­tor de­but his com­edy side, to crit­i­cal ac­claim. He has cer­tainly been a busy boy.

De­spite the suc­cess of th­ese roles, it is the Marvel comic su­per­hero Thor that re­ally cat­a­pulted Hemsworth into the A-list ranks. The pow­er­ful but ar­ro­gant thun­der god is cast out of As­gard by his fa­ther Odin, king of the Norse gods, to live amongst hu­mans in Midgard (Earth), where he soon becomes one of their finest de­fend­ers. As the face/body of love­able rogue Thor since his de­but in 2011 and the three sub­se­quent out­ings, along­side cast mem­ber Tom Hid­dle­ston who plays Loki, he has taken an un­der­dog su­per­hero and turned him into a new cult per­sona, with Batman and Su­per­man level of fan­dom. Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) film, which gath­ered the su­per­heroes Iron Man, Thor, Cap­tain Amer­ica, the Hulk, Black Widow and Hawk­eye to fight Thor’s brother Loki, is ac­tu­ally Marvel’s big­gest gross­ing film to date, with a to­tal US life­time gross of over USD623 mil­lion.

Work­ing on the lat­est out­ing, Thor: Ragnarok, due for re­lease in Oc­to­ber has been a ca­reer high­light for Hemsworth. “Film­ing this one has def­i­nitely been one of the best ex­pe­ri­ences I’ve had on a film set,” he en­thuses. The third film in the se­ries, Hemsworth and the whole team—which this time in­cludes Cate Blanchett and Idris Elba—were un­der no il­lu­sions they needed to step things up to main­tain the suc­cess they had cre­ated. “I had kind of got to the point where I was a lit­tle bored with how I was play­ing the char­ac­ter; it was a lit­tle too safe. And I thought: if I’m bored with it, then ev­ery­one else must be pretty bored too. So I knew we had to do some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent this time round.” It

is here we get a glimpse of Hemsworth the ac­tor; some­one who takes what he does ex­tremely se­ri­ously. This is not a ran­dom good-look­ing guy who was at the right cast­ing at the right time; this is some­one who ded­i­cates him­self to al­ways mak­ing sure his por­trayal is the best it can be. “It just felt like we hadn’t ex­plored this world as much as we could have done,” he con­tin­ues. “I got this feel­ing coming out of the pre­vi­ous two Thor films that we could do so much more

Chris Hemsworth is a very at­trac­tive man. Not in­tim­i­dat­ingly so, but more of a proud “he’s my mate, look how cool he is” sort of way. But he has it. He doesn’t of­fend you with his ap­pear­ance, maybe be­cause he is so gen­uine? And although he is tired, even

this doesn’t di­lute his ap­proach­able qual­ity. Chris is great. Did we men­tion this already? We kind of love Chris.

with the char­ac­ter but he’s lim­ited by this al­most Shake­spearean el­e­ment.” He hints here at the hero char­ac­ter’s tragic flaw—fall­ing in love with a hu­man—and how we may see this take a back­seat in the film to un­veil dif­fer­ent sides to his char­ac­ter.

But Hemsworth is only one man, and he knew he needed the team to help him re­alise his vi­sion of a new ap­proach to Thor. Luck­ily, he found a kin­dred spirit in di­rec­tor Taika Waititi. The New Zealand di­rec­tor, also known as Taika Co­hen, is also a writer, ac­tor, painter and co­me­dian. “When Taika came in—whom I just love, his films are in­cred­i­ble—he brought this off­beat, left-field sense of hu­mour and style. He had the same at­ti­tude and the same feel­ings as me and was like, ‘We have to mix it up’. And so, the whole film was about push­ing the en­ve­lope of what we could get away with. Any­time it felt fa­mil­iar, we would al­ways do some­thing dif­fer­ent. We had a lot of im­pro­vi­sa­tion, a lot more fun, and a lot more com­edy.”

As well as the re­booted ap­proach to

Hemsworth and the whole team were un­der no il­lu­sions they needed to step things up to main­tain the suc­cess they had. “I had kind of got to the point where I was a lit­tle bored with how I was play­ing the char­ac­ter; it was a lit­tle too safe. And I thought: if I’m bored with it, then ev­ery­one else must be pretty bored too. So I knew we had to do some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent this time round.”

the act­ing and the char­ac­ter por­trayal, Hemsworth is con­fi­dent the aes­thetic im­prove­ment of Thor: Ragnarok will wow fans. “Even the vis­ual pal­ette got turned on its head,” he says of Waititi’s un­scripted ap­proach to film­ing. Waititi is also as com­plim­ne­tary about the ac­tor. “Chris makes the char­ac­ter very hu­man and re­lat­able in this film,” he tells Esquire. “He’s a great comedic ac­tor and his de­liv­ery is fan­tas­tic. When he does have funny mo­ments, he re­ally shines and he takes over. We re­ally wanted to utilise his skills in that depart­ment.” The di­rec­tor con­tin­ues: “Chris bares it all. He puts his whole per­son­al­ity out there on the screen. He puts his heart out there. He’s pro­fes­sional and a per­fec­tion­ist.” The

stereo­typ­i­cal sub­ur­ban Aus­tralian up­bring­ing isn’t the most ob­vi­ous melt­ing pot for cre­at­ing Hol­ly­wood movie stars. Nev­er­the­less, there must have been some­thing in the water at the Hemsworth house­hold. Mel­bourne born and bred, Hemsworth’s older brother Luke and Liam (the younger one) are also Hol­ly­wood ac­tors. All three start­ing the act­ing jour­ney on Home and Away, trail-blazed by Luke. Liam has ac­tu­ally been a cover star for Esquire Mid­dle East pre­vi­ously, in Jan­uary 2015. His elder brother smiles with pride when re­minded of a quote from that story about the broth­ers’ re­la­tion­ship. “We’d all read lines to­gether and help each other out. Chris and Luke al­ways made such a point of say­ing, ‘What’s go­ing to sep­a­rate you from other peo­ple? What’s go­ing to be the dif­fer­ence be­tween you get­ting a job and some­one else get­ting the job?”

His re­ac­tion to Liam’s re­marks hints at Hemsworth’s love for all things fam­ily. The fam­ily-man tag is not a mar­ket­ing ploy, as shown by his de­ci­sion to move back to his beloved Australia in 2015, to the laid­back surf town of By­ron Bay, with Span­ish wife, the model, ac­tress and film pro­ducer Elsa Pataky, whom he mar­ried in 2010, and their three chil­dren. His dis­in­ter­est in the glam­orous life and de­sire to have a “nor­mal” up­bring­ing for his chil­dren seems ob­vi­ous the more time you spend with him. “I work hard to make sure I get time away from all of this,” he says, mo­tion­ing to the cam­eras and the stu­dio sup­port staff that sur­round us. In LA, ev­ery­where you go is a con­stant re­minder of busi­ness. You’re al­ways talk­ing about what you’re a part of or what you missed out on. And ev­ery­one you talk to is in the same busi­ness. It’s a lit­tle suf­fo­cat­ing in that sense.”

He re­counts how he and his wife made the de­ci­sion about where they wanted their fam­ily unit to be based, to of­fer them the best up­bring­ing. “We had a con­ver­sa­tion about how our own child­hoods shaped us and we cred­ited those ex­pe­ri­ences to who we are as peo­ple,” he says. In Hemsworth’s case that in­cluded stints liv­ing in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory and Phillip Is­land—about as far away from city life as you could get. No won­der Hol­ly­wood couldn’t hold him for­ever.

By­ron Bay, he says, couldn’t be fur­ther from that bub­ble. “The friends we hang out with over there couldn’t be fur­ther from the busi­ness,” he en­thuses. “And it’s great for my kids to be a part of that en­vi­ron­ment. I think it’s much health­ier. We spend a lot of time out­doors, out­side, on the beach. When we moved back, in­stantly they were

like, ‘Cool, we’re out­doors, we’re ac­tu­ally do­ing stuff!’ And we’ve been able to re­lax and live a more nor­mal sort of life. What bet­ter way is there to go grow up? So I think we were all hap­pier once we made that move.”

It prob­a­bly didn’t hurt that, postThor, he didn’t need to be knock­ing on doors to make sure they opened any­more. Next year, along­side an­other Thor ap­pear­ance in Marvel’s Avengers: In­fin­ity War, we will see him reprise his Ge­orge Kirk per­sona in Star Trek and will also play a CIA agent in Horse Soldiers, set in the af­ter­math of the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks on the United States. Work op­por­tu­ni­ties are good; the Mel­bourne kid has well and truly landed in Hol­ly­wood, and isn’t go­ing any­where in a hurry. Hemsworth

is a pretty ob­vi­ous face to front the new BOSS BOT­TLED cam­paign. He was al­ways go­ing to be ap­proached by a grooming brand at some stage, and seems at ease with his choice of part­ner­ship. “Hugo Boss is such a suc­cess­ful, iconic brand, so it was great be asked to front this cam­paign,” he says of his de­ci­sion to work with them, adding how the mis­sion state­ment of this prod­uct in par­tic­u­lar spoke to him. “I just re­ally like the idea that suc­cess is about liv­ing a life of in­tegrity, hon­esty and com­pas­sion. That’s what suc­cess is. It’s not the ma­te­rial ob­jects we ac­quire along the way. And I think that re­ally aligned with my own up­bring­ing and how I like to live my life. It was an easy fit in that sense.”

He re­acts with his usual con­fi­dence when grilled if he ac­tu­ally likes the scent and if he could work with them even if he didn’t. “Well, I would have to

do some se­ri­ous act­ing!” he says with a laugh. “Thank­fully, I hap­pen to re­ally like it and so does my wife, which is the most im­por­tant fac­tor. She wouldn’t let me wear it if it didn’t smell good.” He re­counts a story of how there was one fra­grance in the past that she for­bade him from wear­ing be­cause her ex-boyfriend used to smell the same. “So thank­fully, there’s no his­tory at­tached to this one,” he says with a wry smile.

Hemsworth goes on to ex­plain how he takes care of his skin, ex­plain­ing how that just-rugged-enough look isn’t as nat­u­ral as you may have thought. “I do have to take care of my­self be­cause I spend a lot of time in the sun, the surf and other el­e­ments,” he ad­mits. “When you’re do­ing that sort of thing your skin can take a beat­ing.” Still, it is a rel­a­tively fuss-free regime. He pro­claims the Aus­tralian favourite of co­conut oil as the cure to all woes, along with the prompt­ings of his wife. “She re­minds me to use mois­turiser af­ter surf­ing. She works with La Mer and is al­ways try­ing to put their stuff on me.”

He jokes how he used to tell her that mois­turiser doesn’t work, “but as she’s be­gin­ning to look younger and I’m be­gin­ning to look older, I’m start­ing to think that she’s got a point!”

There’s more to Chris Hemsworth than good skin and act­ing abil­ity, of course. The phys­i­cal chal­lenges of play­ing a Norse god are ev­ery bit as dif­fi­cult as you would imag­ine. “It’s in­tense,” he says. “It in­volves a lot of train­ing to look like that. Mainly iso­lated mus­cle group­ing and heavy­weights.” His cur­rent shape is im­pres­sive and you can see this is not a part­time gym pro­gramme with the odd ex­tra piece of pro­tein thrown in for good mea­sure; it’s a life­style. It’s clear you couldn’t main­tain this level of train­ing if you didn’t rel­ish it on some level. “I cer­tainly en­joy the knowl­edge I’ve gained about my body and health that I didn’t have be­fore,” he agrees. “You don’t get a sec­ond body in life, so I’m just glad I’ve been lucky enough to be ed­u­cated on how to main­tain the one I do have.” He’s also no stranger to dra­matic body shap­ing, with his roles in Heart of the Sea and Rush re­quir­ing him to shed 7kg, a dras­tic change to the chis­elled, broad physique Hemsworth is known for. As

with all things in life, ex­pe­ri­ence helps and he finds it much eas­ier now than he did with train­ing for the first Thor film. “Over the years, I’ve got­ten a lot smarter with my work­out. Right now, my trainer and I have been work­ing a lot more on func­tional move­ments. So, my cur­rent train­ing in­cor­po­rates a lot more flex­i­bil­ity and agility.”

Of course, post-film­ing he can re­lax a lit­tle bit. With “lit­tle” be­ing the op­er­a­tive word. “I gen­er­ally try and main­tain my fit­ness post-film­ing he says. “I mean, I do loosen the reins a bit but I try not to go to such an ex­treme where I’d have to start from scratch again.” Be­ing a true Aussie, the beach plays a part in that down­time. “I surf a lot and just gen­er­ally try and stay ac­tive. I feel bet­ter do­ing that any­way. If I don’t train for long pe­ri­ods of time, I get kind of flat and moody.” And, he adds, there’s the added pres­sure of be­ing con­stantly filmed that helps him stay fo­cused. “I don’t know how well it would go down if I turned up to the Thor pre­miere obese,” he jokes.

As our in­ter­view draws to an end, we fin­ish up talk­ing about how, when he first en­tered the in­dus­try, he had to be pretty self­ish, but is happy to say that most of his choices are now mo­ti­vated by how ben­e­fi­cial they are to his fam­ily. So far that pol­icy has given him a suc­cess­ful Hol­ly­wood ca­reer, while liv­ing at home, miles away from the LA pres­sures, with his fam­ily and close friends around, who all bring him a sense of nor­mal­ity. “I’m lucky and thank­ful to be able to have free­dom in my choices. My main fo­cus is the bal­ance be­tween work and fam­ily. I wanted to be able to spend as much time home as pos­si­ble with them.”

It seems the real Chris Hemsworth is more than just a good-look­ing guy, a hard-work­ing ac­tor and a de­voted fam­ily man. He’s the guy ev­ery man wants to be best mates with, and one of the very few we don’t mind our wives hav­ing a crush on. In fact, if she doesn’t, what’s wrong with her? Did we men­tion at all that Chris is so nice? Chris is just great. We kind of love Chris.

“We’ve been able to re­lax and live a more nor­mal sort of life. What bet­ter way is there to go grow up? So I think we were all hap­pier once we made that move.”

Jumper and trousers by Hugo Boss; watch and bracelets, Hemsworth’s own.

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