According to legend, only those worthy enough can pick up the mighty hammer of Thor…and Chris Hemsworth certainly fits the bill.
The Australian actor will bring the Thunderer to life on May 6, 2011 when “Thor” hits theaters. Fans got a sneak peek of everything in store with the debut of the film’s first trailer last week, and in the coming months Marvel.com will bring you word from the actors and creators behind “Thor” as we anticipate the most epic Marvel movie yet!
For Hemsworth, the challenge of playing such an iconic, established hero on the big screen proved no more difficult than any other role he’s undertaken.
“There’s a lot of pressure with something that existed for so many years before you were involved and already has a fan base, but you don’t let that affect the way you approach the film,” remarks the actor. “I approached it by doing it as well as I can. Whether it’s a small film, or something like this, it’s very exciting and daunting.”
As fans gleaned from the trailer, Jane Foster—played by Natalie Portman—will play a large role in Thor’s cinematic odyssey, something Hemsworth teased further.
“It’s a big breaking point in Thor’s journey,” he promises. “He learns some humility. He starts out as a brash, cocky, young warrior and she certainly influences him in a different direction and gives him a different angle to look at life from.”
Thor’s hubris and heroism define two key aspects of his character, aspects that reflect “an ongoing battle [within Thor], taming the berserk warrior that is in him,” according to Hemsworth.
“Certainly, that’s a big part of this film. He has to be that warrior and he still has to have those elements. That’s what makes him Thor. But also, you don’t want to watch a guy for too long on screen who’s just a jerk all the time. You get moments of it, where it’s kind of cool and bad, but then it just gets old. You’ve got to find that balance, and at the right times, sneak a bit of it back in.”
Working with director Kenneth Branagh gave Hemsworth a particular insight into Thor’s character, as the filmmaker encouraged the star to gain inspiration wherever he could.
“It’s been brilliant,” beams Hemsworth. “It’s the most character development, discussions on scenes and back-story that I’ve ever had. He always had the attitude that you should read books–read this, look at all these influences, talk for hours. Maybe it means nothing or maybe it gives us one moment in the film, and it’s worth it. That’s part of the fun for me, all that research and speaking to as many people as I can and soaking up all that stuff.”
As far as specific books that Branagh gave the actor, one in particular made an impression on him.
Chris Hemsworth as Thor with Anthony Hopkins as Odin
“Kenneth got me ‘Siddhartha,’ a Hermann Hesse book, about a man trying to find his place in life,” recalls Hemsworth. “It’s about a person who goes through all these temptations. ‘Thor,’ in effect, is different from ‘Siddhartha,’ but it’s a human being trying to find out his purpose and how he’s going to go about his life. Ken said, ‘Look, this is just a bright book that I love. It might give you something for the film or just personally.’ I love it, it’s certainly one of my favorite books.”
Beyond building his mind, Hemsworth also had to build quite a bit of muscle mass to play the Mighty Avenger, which required a special diet.
“It was a lot of protein shakes, chicken breasts, a lot of calories, food and working out,” Hemsworth states. I’ve tried to get as much rest as I can, that’s the other third of the equation. I put on about 20 pounds, and then lost a lot of it since shooting, because I wasn’t eating that amount.”
Speaking of Thor’s physicality, Hemsworth also put a great deal of work into developing his fighting style with Thor’s iconic weapon, the Uru hammer Mjolnir.
“It’s a rather impractical weapon in a sense,” comments the actor. “It’s got this big huge head on it and a tiny little handle. We talked about boxing a lot actually, I’ve done Muay Thai for years, which keeps you on your toes, but boxing is a more grounded technique. You talk about Mike Tyson, low to the ground, using your power through your legs. A lot of that influenced Thor, with big shoulder movements. It becomes sort of gritty, street fighting stuff at times. He also happens to have a big hammer in his hands at the time too.”