To paraphrase the man himself, three years ago Chris Hemsworth couldn’t get arrested in this town. That was before a meteoric rise that started with playing Captain Kirk’s father in the Star Trek reboot, followed by a plum role as Marvel’s God of Thunder in Thor. He reprises the part in the new blockbuster The Avengers, as well as basking in the critical acclaim of his long-delayed horror film The Cabin in the Woods. He talked about Thor, family and other matters at The Avengers press day in Beverly Hills a short while ago. A transcript of his comments appears below.
Question: You’re playing a bit of a fish out of water here, even more so than in Thor. Can you talk about that a bit?
Chris Hemsworth: Well, we all kind of fall into that category. Joss [Whedon] said it early on: this is a dysfunctional family, and yet we somehow belong there since none of us belongs anywhere else. With Thor, the conflict and the villain was far more personal than the rest of them because it was his brother. It was nice to have already shot that first film and have that relationship with Tom [Hiddleston] to build on. It was fun to play that dynamic.
Q: There must have been excitement for that big 360 shot – the scene where you all come together…
CH: I remember thinking on that day that that was the trailer shot, or the big moment. We’d been on the SHIELD bridge in the first scene you see where we’re all together, but we weren’t getting along at that point. That big 360 moment was where we finally assembled, with all the chaos around us. I certainly remember thinking yeah, this is the moment.
Q: We heard that the code name for this project was “Group Hug.” Can you tell us about any interesting or funny stories on or off the set?
CH: Tom loves hugs. I did a film with him, and there were plenty of hugs on that film, group hugs. One day, early on in the shoot, Chris [Evans] sent us a text and said “Avengers assemble at such and such bar at nine o’clock.” That was good group effort. [Laughter] I keep getting asked about who was the biggest diva and things like that. There were no divas, even when we were getting into trouble. We were all are either that well behaved or everyone kept each other in check. No one wanted to be the one who screwed up.
Q: What makes Thor special to you as a character?
CH: I like his instinctiveness, the sort of visceral way he goes with his gut. I also thought the childlike quality was interesting: if he believes something or wants to do something, he does it and says it. Kids own their environment like that, and there’s still a quality of that to Thor. It’s surrounded by bravado and strength and all that, but end of the day he’s pretty open about who he is and what he wants to do. And I think that was fun to play with.
Q: Your relationship with Loki is very complicated. Did you draw from your real-life relationships?
CH: Yeah, the last time one of my brothers tried to take over the world, I had to think back and remember how that felt. [Laughter] When we did Thor, Kenneth Branagh kept saying “let’s not get caught up in playing gods or what have you. Let’s be truthful. You have brothers and how do you relate to that?” That became the thread through Thor and through this. I can give my brother a hard time and tell him off. But no one else can. When someone else pushes him, you’re right there beside him, and we really focused on that, both with Loki and ultimately with the other heroes who become Thor’s brothers-in-arms throughout the film.
Q: Were there any real-life accidents during filming?
CH: I had one. The scene where Thor takes Loki off the SHIELD ship and lands in the woods, and then we go into this big sort of two-hander. I was on a wire, and had to come down and land on the cliff. In the first couple of takes, I just face-planted in the dirt. Incredibly ungraceful and un-super-hero-like. I’m sure it’s going to show up on the DVD.
Q: Was there a favorite geek reference from the script that you were excited to perform?
CH: I remember reading the script, and I suppose this is a spoiler for anyone who hasn’t seen the film. [Editor’s note: Spoiler is confirmed. Fairly warned thee be says we.] I read the section where Hulk and Thor finally are on the same team and fighting the aliens and what have you. And they end, and they’re both standing there out of breath. And Hulk just backhands Thor through a wall. That was something I looked forward to. That was really good.