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Chris Hemsworth is Australia’s newest international star, playing the title role in Thor. It was a learning experience – plus the joys of a huge trailer, he tells Andrew L. Urban.

Chris Hemsworth extends his hand for a shake with a broad smile; behind him and 23 floors below the Sydney Harbour glistens in sunshine. It’s Monday (after the Sunday night premiere of Thor) and he’s as bright as a kid in a toy store. The media tour is not getting him down.

“I’m enjoying it,” he says with the smile still in place. “I’ve seen a lot of the world, although nowhere for long … but the tour has taken me to London, Spain, France, Germany, Italy … Rome was fantastic … and now this.” He squints into the Sydney sun.

He’s still as tall as he looks in the film, and just as good looking, but his speech is less modulated. “It wasn’t so much an accent,” he says, “it was more about diction; there was a formality to it which was dictated to some extent by the language.” Director Kenneth Branagh, renowned for his Shakespearean work, helped.

For Hemsworth, the attention to vocal detail had a resonance. “Some years ago I was told to remember that on either side of a cinema screen there are huge speakers … sound is important.”

In Thor, Hemsworth plays the title character, a figure from Norse mythology. Just as he is to be anointed the future king, ahead of his resentful brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor is cast out of the mythological world of Asgard, by his father the ruler Odin (Anthony Hopkins). This is his punishment for recklessly disobeying an order not to start a war with Laufey (Colm Feore) who rules over the frozen celestial realm of Jotunheim. 

"a warrior worthy of it"

Thor is sent to live amongst humans on Earth (in our own time), where he encounters a small scientific team of Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Professor Andrews (Stellan Skarsgard) and Darcy (Kat Dennings). But SHIELD Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) is soon on the scene to arrest Thor and confiscate Jane’s hard won research. The hammer of thunder which had been sent to earth with Thor is now useless, until ‘a warrior worthy of it’ takes possession of it.

Working with the likes of Branagh and Hopkins was at first a daunting thought. It took until his fourth audition over many months to finally find his inner Thor “and back myself”; he walked into the audition free of fear. It worked. 

He soon found himself on the set, sitting in the biggest trailer he’s ever had or seen. “It was a like a suite in a big hotel,” he says with the charm of the newcomer to star treatment.

It was a confluence of career highs when he was told he had the role as Thor. Just the day before, he had been told he had the lead role of Jed Eckert in Red Dawn, another action thriller. And there are two more Thors to go …

For Hemsworth, the biggest thing he learnt watching Hopkins work was “his enthusiasm. He’s still not jaded after countless movies. He reads the script a hundred times, he’s just awesome. I just tried to keep up and hoped some of it would rub off,” he adds with a self deprecating laugh.

“The other big thing I learnt on this film is to just let go … to take risks, not to put the character in a box. But you need a director like Branagh to dot that. He’s all about exploration …”

"distinct pleasure"

On Sunday night in Sydney, the day before our interview, he had the distinct pleasure of attending the world premiere and see the finished film for the first time – in the company of his parents. “They loved it…” 

Published April 21, 2011

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Chris Hemsworth


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