In some ways, Chris Hemsworth is reminiscent of a young, pre-rant Mel Gibson: He’s a versatile Aussie transplant who blew up in an action franchise, but is more drawn to quality dramas forged by the directing elite. Yes, Hemsworth will be forever known as “Thor” to 90 percent of audiences, and with Thor: The Dark World and Avengers 2: Age of Ultron on the horizon, it might be another decade before he shakes the moniker. As a backup, he has the Snow White and the Huntsman retelling made nearly $400 million worldwide last year, and a sequel is likely. But his franchise involvement appears less an issue than a gateway — Ron Howard tapped Hemsworth’s good looks and plentiful charisma for his racing biopic Rush, which got approving reviews. The collaboration with Howard was so successful that the director found more material for Hemsworth; they’re currently filming the whaling epic In the Heart of the Sea. And to prove he’s not all brawn, Hemsworth is teaming with Michael Mann for the brainy hacker picture Cyber.
Hemsworth’s profile raised quickly: After Thor came out in 2011, last year he had four movies in major release, thanks to the long-delayed freeing of Red Dawn and The Cabin in the Woods, thrust out into the marketplace along with Avengers and Snow White. (That said, neither of the smaller MGM projects did much damage at the box office.) He has also surged as a person of interest: His tabloid score is a mighty 9, owing to his status as a constant source of paparazzi beefcake: It’s even more impressive when you realize that he has a higher score than brother Liam, and he was engaged to Miley Cyrus. (Chris is married to Fast and Furious cop Elsa Pataky.) Likability scores are usually low for handsome actors drooled over by younger women (resentful men disproportionately declare how much they hate these guys), but thanks to his position in the Marvel universe, Hemsworth has a more positive score of 69. As long as he keeps swinging his sword as the female-wooing Huntsman and his hammer as the dude-friendly Thor, he should keep getting a lot of chances in dramatic projects, too.