There are few actors in world cinema who are currently as productive as Chris Hemsworth. With roles in Thor, Marvel Avengers Assemble and The Cabin in the Woods, the former Home and Away star is slowly beginning to take over Hollywood and we caught up him ahead of the release of his latest picture Snow White and the Huntsman.
Playing the Huntsman in Rupert Sanders debut film – set for May 30 release – the jubilant Hemsworth has also got the birth of his daughter India Rose to celebrate as the Australian actor discusses his attempt at now trying to balance his work with his family life.
Hemsworth also lets us into a little more information on his upcoming film Rush witj Ron Howard, whilst discussing his accidental mishap with co-star Kristen Stewart on set, leaving the star with a black eye…
Firstly, congratulations on your new arrival! That must be pretty exciting for you?
Yeah, absolutely, it’s taken up most of my attention, or all of my attention at the moment. I need to switch my kind of work brain on, but I couldn’t be happier.
What with that and The Avengers, Cabin in the Woods and obviously this, it’s been such a whirlwind year for you. I bet you can’t believe what’s going on?
Yeah, none of its been part of some great plan, its all just sort of collided at once and I couldn’t ask for much more. I’d be grateful to just be working in film let alone films like this. You know, with this kind of success and the family side of things I’m just… Touch wood it keeps coming.
Do you think you’ll find it difficult to juggle the family life now the baby’s just been born?
Yeah it’s still so new but you know I prefer to be active, I tend to get in trouble if I sit still too long. School was never a great thing for me for that reason so I think I like it, I like the juggling act of it all. I like the excitement and the adrenalin that comes with it…HeyUGuys, is that some reference to The Goonies or something? Hey you guuuys!
Indeed it is. I was hoping you may say that at some point in this interview.
I just said it, but I’m going to say it again – I’ll slip it into an answer.
Back to the film, there is a lot done in special effects. Is it difficult for you as an actor to perform in that sort of medium?
Oh this was easy, I mean, for this visual effects were minimal. There were times when the actual actors playing dwarves would switch over to little people doubles who had the prosthetics, on but most of the time they were there interacting with us. The troll obviously wasn’t there, that was one day of having to imagine what was going on. The rest of the film, 95% of it was real locations. Rupert was very adamant about it being real cathedrals, real churches.
Where was the film actually shot?
The lake district which…tell me, where actually is that? I mean is it a different state? I don’t know the geography of it. I just jumped on a helicopter.
It’s up north, kind of near Scotland in Cumbia.
We shot there, which was incredibly beautiful. Then we shot in Wales, around London in different cathedrals and various forest and river locations around the place. And that was the thing – once you were actually in it you lived these characters. I mean, Thor and Avengers was green screen after green screen, having to imagine the scenario, whereas most of this is actually real.
Your character, the Huntsman, is also in many ways more human, more down to earth than your other superhero roles. Did you enjoy this sort of role more?
Yeah, sure, it’s tricky because with something like Thor you’ve got to constantly try and ground it. You’re fighting that beast, and he is a God, otherworldly, so it is a harder job to make that sort of truthful. Whereas this is a pretty real scenario, pretty real character, he’s a human being that’s suffered some great tragedy and has wandered down a path of alcoholism and what have you. So I did enjoy it more, the fact that he was allowed to be dirty and gritty and flawed and conflicted and you’re not trapped in a box of right or wrong, you’ve got much more room for exploration. I liked that he was a tough character but also a wounded soul, there was some vulnerability there.
Why do you think the filmmakers did that? To turn the Huntsman, the anti-hero, into the hero, rather than go down the traditional path with the Prince?
A lot of that happened in casting because I think they were looking at or speaking with older actors at one stage and there was no possibility of him being the love interest or hero. I think once I was approached about the script, because I was younger than who they’d looked at previously, it took a different turn. Which is what I enjoyed about the story; that it wasn’t the obvious take on the fairytale.
There’s a definite chemistry in the film between you and Kristen, but am I right in thinking she punched you in the face?
Yeah (laughs), she did. It was supposedly an accident, jury’s still out on that one. Far too accurate and powerful for me to be 100% convinced. But, no, we had a lot of fun. We come from similar worlds; she’d obviously come from Twilight and it was sort of overshadowing a lot of what she had done. And I’d come from the Marvel world, with a big, dedicated, strong fan base. So both of those you’re fighting to sort of try and prove hey, look, I can act too, I’m not just part of this world that I’m thankful for being part of, but you’re trying to show case something or show that you’re supposed to be there. And she has a great work ethic, she has a really passionate idea about the story and characters and that’s just what you want to be around on set.
Talking about being around people on set – the eight dwarves in the film literally showcases some of the finest of British talent. What was it like working alongside some of those names?
That was probably the biggest treat for me, working with those guys – iconic, on and off screen. Actors I’ve watched for years and watching them work and trying to steal their ideas, and listening to them just riff and talk back and forth in-between takes about their experiences was just such a treat. It was like I’d won some competition to be on set and listen to them and I felt like an audience member, you know, in the best possible way.
Such humour in their scenes does come across as being very real as well.
Yeah, a lot of what they did was just improvise. No one’s going to tell them how to approach a script or a scene, you know, they deserve the right to do whatever they want with it. They constructed those moments, and the amount of conversation, endless discussions about those scenes – I remember thinking wow, even after this many films later they still have that passion and dedication to it. It was pretty inspiring.
It’s quite an incredible achievement for Rupert in his debut film. Did you have any hesitancies taking on a role as he was a first-time filmmaker?
Sure, my initial reaction was the same everybody else’s – because on paper you think, “Oh, he’s never done a film before…” and then you look a little deeper you realise that actually he has done hundreds of commercials and you look at those commercials and they are like five minutes films, as visually stunning and on-the-mark as far as storytelling in a lot of films I’ve seen, and some of the best. He reminded me of Chris Nolan, you know, that dark sort of edge and that next level filmmaking that Chris gives us and then so after seeing that and also talking with him, and sitting down with him, I realised that he is a filmmaker, a storyteller – he’s not just a visual guy for the sake of being visual, he gets it, and there were no doubts after that.
Is he someone you would like to work again with on day?
Oh for sure. We’ve had a few discussions about different scripts he’s read, or scripts I’ve read that we could possibly try and get moving and yeah, in a heartbeat.
Is directing anything you would like to get into yourself one day?
Yeah I mean I’d love to direct at some point, you know if people say to me “Chris you step onto a film for four months and then leave…” you’ve got to understand that as a director there is a two, three of four year commitment sometimes and I just love the aspect of when you’re really controlling that story, because you as an actor you do your bit and you hand it off to other sources and people to do what they want with it, but I’d love the challenge, and that’s what it’s all about for me, that adrenaline that comes with the fear, I think it would be exciting. But I’m so early into what I’m doing I have different ideas every week!
Also let’s talk about how Rush is coming along – have you started filming that yet?
Yeah it’s finished. That was a far smaller budget, intimate, but even though this is going to sound crazy to a lot of people, but from Home and Away to Avengers, to Snow White to Rush, I approached them all the same, you know, it’s a character that I’m trying to make truthful and a story I need to relate to and Rush was just something that was quite intimidating to walk into because it’s an iconic character, you know, a real human being, and that’s just so hard to live up to as someone who people grew up with, with posters on the wall, so it’s like what right do I have to take that on? You give it your best shot but Ron Howard was just one of the most wonderful people, both on and off the set and so creative and to be around him and be a part of something iconic like that was one of the best things I’ve ever been through. I have a really good feeling about the movie – it follows two guys in Formula One in the 70′s and their rivalry on and off the track was kind of historic and fact is better than any fiction we could come up with, so we just put a camera on it and went with what was already there.
Have you seen Senna by any chance?
Yeah I did and what I loved about that was that those guys are just gladiators, especially in the 70′s and around that time, when three of four people were dying a year in this competition, and it’s like – why would you put yourself in that position? But they all talked about the way it brought them – when flirting with death like that on the track – in the moment, or they were at one with God or they were more centred than they had ever been before, and there is something addictive and something fascinating about that.
You also took up Patrick Swayze’s role in Red Dawn?
I did that years ago, before any of this – around the same time I did Cabin in the Woods. Both Cabin in the Woods and Red Dawn, MGM went bankrupt and then the films got put on hold and they’re only just being released. I’m like Benjamin Button, younger and less experienced as they come out.
I think we can tell whereabouts you are in your career judging by the length of your hair…
Yeah right! [laughs] That’s true – and in Red Dawn I’ve got a marine cut so there you go, you know it’s prior to any of this.