/Film Interview: Chris Hemsworth, Thor In 'The Avengers'

Chris Hemsworth is having a staggering 2012. A film he shot before he was cast as Thor, The Cabin in the Woods, was just released. He's back as the God of Thunder with a pivotal role in Joss Whedon's The Avengers and he'll then be seen as the Huntsman in Snow White and the Huntsman. He just finished shooting the real-life racing drama Rush with director Ron Howard and he'll wind up the summer shooting Thor 2 with director Alan Taylor. Then his Red Dawn remake should finally get a release. Not a bad year at all.

I sat down with Hemsworth, along with two other journalists, to discuss his busy schedule, the craziness of comic book fandom,  how Joss Whedon helped cast him as Thor, some of his huge action scenes in The Avengers, Thor 2 preparation, how Robert Downey Jr. ushered him into the group and much more. He's a great guy and an even better interview. Read it after the jump.

I conducted the below interview with Jeremy Smith, aka Mr. Beaks, of Ain't It Cool News and Jim Littler of Comic Book Movie. Below, I make the distinction of who asked each question but Hemsworth will always be in the block quote font.


Chris Hemsworth: Fuck Avengers, CABIN IN THE WOODS.

CBM: Congratulations with both.


/Film: It was so good.

Yeah, it's great isn't it?

/Film: Yeah, it is great.

I kind of forgot about the film, because it was three years ago and every time we get asked about it...

CBM: It was pre-THOR.

Yeah, it was.

AICN: You were cast as Thor on that movie, right?

Yeah, RED DAWN I was cast on a Friday, I got a phone call, and then the Saturday I was cast as Thor and then following that conversation I had another phone call that said, "Yeah that might not work out, because there's a schedule conflict," so I spent the next kind of two weeks in limbo about how I was going to feel about "Did I get it or didn't I?" Then it worked out, but it was CABIN IN THE WOODS that kicked it off, yeah.

AICN: Drew [Goddard] said one of his favorite memories from making CABIN IN THE WOODS is taking you to the comic shop or getting you THOR comics.

Yeah, I remember being out one night and we had finished late on a Friday night and we went and had a drink and I had just gotten THOR and he said, "Let me tell you something." He goes, "I'll give you some advice about the fans, just don't bullshit them."

[Everyone Laughs]

And he goes "They know more than you will ever know." I said, "Okay" and I knew nothing of the comic book world and this is one of those sort of heartfelt kind of two in the morning or three in the morning conversations, but it was true. I learned that. "The guys who read those comic books and know that world know more about it than you do" and it was nice to kind of start on that foot. I went "Oh, okay. There's that kind of audience out there watching."

/Film: What about Joss? Joss worked on the movie too and now you're back with him here.

Yeah, it's nuts. Well Joss actually called Ken [Branagh] because my little brother was auditioning and it was like THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER brought out this article about "The four guys" that were up for THOR. It was my little brother and three other guys and Joss and Drew were on set like "What the fuck is going on? You're Thor man, why aren't you auditioning for this?" I was like "Well..." Then none of them got it, so Joss called Ken Branagh and said, "Look I'm working with Chris. You should see the guy" and Joss was a huge fan of Ken and Ken was a big fan of him and so I kind of slipped in the middle somewhere. (Laughs) I got back in the room and then yeah, then it all came full circle. When I was shooting THOR, Joss came on set and I was like "What the hell are you doing here?" He's like "I'm meeting on AVENGERS." I was like "AVENGERS? Hang on, that's so far down the track..." That's how far ahead they had planned and it all worked.

CBM: We were just talking about HUNGER GAMES versus AVENGERS and which is going to do the most box office... What's your prediction?

Geez, I don't know. Obviously the film is what the "highest grossing non sequel" of all time? That's a pretty big bar to reach, you know?

CBM: Yeah, but you have a Hulk.

[Laughts] We have a Hulk. As Downey says, "We have the Hulk." It's good for all of us though, you know. We all know that... It's more difficult to predict any sort of box office success or the formula to it and any time something works and if people come back to the theater it's a huge plus for everyone in this business and we had a trailer in front of that film, so that was a good thumbs up for us. God, if it were anywhere near that, it'd be a huge thing.

/Film: It's funny. You talk about how busy you've been since CABIN sort of started off. You go from THOR to SNOW WHITE and back to THOR and now you're doing something with Ron Howard and you're back to THOR. Has THOR sort of become this glove for you that's easy to slip into? Or is it still difficult?

It is a bit. It's funny, I probably spent the most time thinking about the first THOR, because it was the origin of it all and then AVENGERS I thought "Oh yeah, I've played this before and this will be easy" and that was the mistake I made, I think. I walked on that set the first day and was a bit rattled by that group and everyone and thought, "Shit, hang on. Wait a second. I'm in a red cape and this feels kind of ridiculous." It didn't feel as comfortable as I did in my own film, but pretty fast it all fell into place. But yeah, I mean CABIN has been the catalyst for all of this stuff. The jump into SNOW WHITE was straight after THOR and that was great and then I just finished Ron Howard's film, the race film, and it's funny I catch myself thinking "Jesus, am I some sort of athlete?" You know, because I've been going up and down in weight for the last few years more than I've ever done. "Put on muscle. Now strip it off." It's finding that balance. You get caught in putting on the weight or losing the weight or whatever and then you think "I've got a film to perform in here or act in." RUSH was fantastic. As I said, I just finished it last week and it was great. The characters in the story line, not this sort of concept of it all and it was nice to have a simpler sort of approach to everything. It was all based in reality obviously and based on real guys who existed and it was a lot of fun, yeah. There's the resource of real human beings to have a look at. I met so many people who knew him. It was great.

AICN: And being locked into THOR and doing the movie star thing, does that ever overwhelm what it was you wanted out of acting in the first place? How do you approach that?

I remember in high school when I first thinking about talk of being an actor. It was sort of "I'm going to Hollywood." That was sort of my thing, it was just because I loved those kind of films. As a kid I loved the films that took me to another place or another universe and that vivid concept that took me out of reality and transferred me to somewhere else. Even now I look at this film and you know the first time I saw was when the visual effects weren't finished and seeing it last night when they were finished and both times I felt like a kid again. I was entertained. I was laughing. I was cheering and all of that and I was in the film. Honestly, from an acting point of view it's really tough to watch yourself. You are your biggest critic, anyone, not just as an actor, as a writer, or anyone in life. We judge ourselves more than anyone, so when you get swept away in the ride of it all someone is doing something right and I really felt that with this film.

CBM: Did your fight with the Hulk turn out like you thought it would?

It was funny you know, because that was all CGI, you know?

CBM: You were the only one that was fighting the air in the movie.

I was pretending... Getting that harness on getting ripped through walls and things, but it was the one I was the most excited about, because I knew that there was no one that had... Hulk was sort of like the "No one could concur that." He was the "biggest, strongest," kind of guy in the universe and then I read in the comic books and was like "Maybe Thor is there," but it was never officially sort of decided and I thought "Okay, well here we go."

CBM: He always needs his hammer to fight the Hulk.

He does, you know. Yeah, sure and I don't want to ruin anything, but the uppercut was... (Laughs) A friend of mine flew over from Australia and goes "I got fucking tingles up my spine when I saw that."


CBM: Did you know Joss was going to have Hulk smack you when you were fighting together?

I did. Yeah, that was one of my favorite bits in the script.

CBM: That was a good moment.

I mean a lot of the other bits that ended up being quite funny caught me by surprise, yet that moment as soon as I read it I went "This is going to be a big payoff."

AICN: It's great; you get knocked out of frame twice.

[MINOR SPOILER ENDS] That's what I was saying, I saw the trailer and I was watching it with my wife and she goes "It's great." I just like "I'm just getting the shit beat out of me during this whole trailer." There's a shot of Iron Man smashing me down, then there's a shot of me hitting Captain America's shield and being blown into the background, and then the Hulk... It's like I'm the rag doll of this thing.

/Film: I'm sure you're going to get the chance to kick some more ass in the second THOR. What's the schedule like on that? Have you read a script?

I haven't read a script and we start shooting in August. I met with Alan Taylor a couple of months ago and Natalie Portman and I and Alan and a couple of Marvel guys and it was hugely exciting. Ken did such a wonderful job and with scheduling or what have you he didn't end up doing this one, but I'm a big fan of the GAME OF THRONES series, which is Alan's latest work, and I think that is what's exciting about the second one, making it sort of more tangible and having a more organic feel to Asgard and that world. I think the science fiction element to THOR... the danger is it falls a little bit into the world of it's "tough to throw a light to" where I think of big waterfalls and mountains and a Viking influence where the Norse mythology kind of grew from. Having that in Asgard is going to make it all the more special and that's what Alan wants to bring to it. I think that would be the new aspect to this one.

AICN: In seeing the way that Downey has really seized control of IRON MAN and the character and he's got ideas, like he knows how he wants to drive this character forward. Do you take anything from that? Do you want that level of control or do you want a measure of control over how Thor is portrayed in the future?

I mean... Shit, we all want some sort of control whether or not we ever achieve that. I mean Downey, very early on when I got cast as Thor, they brought me on to the set of IRON MAN and I remember walking on in just tracksuit pants and a t-shirt and seeing Downey there in the Iron Man costume and knowing that AVENGERS was coming up and just thinking "How am I going to pull Thor off and how in the hell am I going to stand up to this guy and do this?" But he was great. He gave me some great advice about "What an opportunity that we are all involved in." It wasn't directed at me, he included himself and talking about the group. He knew CAPTAIN AMERICA was coming, THOR, IRON MAN, and he said, "We are a part of something special and this is going to be a hell of a lot of fun" and that's it, you know. I think you've got to enjoy the process. If you focus too much on "What's the result of it all" and to sound cliché, you're not "in the moment of it all" and that was a nice kind of reminder of it and I've tried to keep that with everything I do. As an actor you don't control the spectrum, that's the director and the producers and stuff. If you do theater, sure you come out and do your thing, but on film you do ten different takes across however many days, you know 60 days or whatever, and there's 40 or 50 different versions of THOR that Kenneth Branagh cut together in the first film. Whether you liked it or not, that was a version that was put together by a lot of other people and that was... It takes the weight off in thinking "You know what? I actually can't control this no matter how much I thinking I can or I try to." There's some comfort in kind of letting go with it and especially walking onto a set like this with an ensemble like that. It was like "Good. We can share this weight." And although the finger gets pointed as individuals, whether director, writer, actor, or whatever it's a team effort work or fail, you know?

Thanks so much to Chris Hemsworth for a fantastic interview and Jeremy and Jim for being great colleagues. The Avengers opens May 4, Snow White and the Huntsman opens June 1.