The Verge: Chris Hemsworth
Ever seen a striking new actor and wondered, "Who's that?" Now you'll know before you even have to ask. Welcome to The Verge, Movieline's weekly interview with up-and-comers on the verge of a serious career boost.
In the new Star Trek reboot, Chris Pine's James T. Kirk struggles to live up to the legacy his father has set at Starfleet -- and so, too, does the prologue involving that dead dad establish the whiz-bang tone the whole movie must follow. Australian actor Chris Hemsworth plays the elder Kirk, and as he tells Movieline, he understands the long shadow that family can cast. But what happens when he's competing with one of his brothers for a role in the newest Hollywood blockbuster?
You've got two other brothers, Luke and Liam, who are also actors. You're the middle child...how did you all go into that profession? Was it like a toppling of dominoes?
My older brother Luke was on Neighbours [a long-running Australian soap] when I finished high school. I was looking at what my next step was gonna be -- I didn't want to go to university, and I had a different plan each week. And he said, "Look, why don't you try this acting course?" I did that and it sort of went from there, and then my younger brother Liam had pretty much the same experience and took the same course after high school.
How's he doing now?
He's got a lot of momentum, actually. He got offered a part opposite Stallone in The Expendables and was the up-and-comer on the film, but the script changed and that character was cut out of the film. And then, within that same couple of hours that he found out, Kenneth Branagh asked him to test for Thor. So he came over here and tested for that, and it's great to have him here.
Do you guys go up for the same parts a lot?
Absolutely, yeah. I'm reading on Thor next week! [laughs]
So what do you do when it's brother vs. brother?
You know, you try to use it to your advantage as far as if there's any knowledge you can give each other [about parts], you do. The three of us have always been really close, and it's not a spiteful, competitive kind of thing. We're always kind of asking each other, "How did we get in this position?" To be involved in any of this stuff is kind of a trip for us.
Tell me a little bit about that. To go from shooting an Australian soap like Home & Away, as you did, to being in a megabudget Hollywood blockbuster like Star Trek...
Home & Away had been shooting for about twenty years or something, and it was great that it had such a huge following, but to be a part of Star Trek...I mean, Star Trek also has a huge following, but we're doing such a new thing with it. It's such a fresh take on the previous series. It was definitely fun on set, I think everybody had the idea that this was gonna be huge, and it certainly turned out that way.
Even though this is a fresh take and there's a bit of an "alternate universe" thing happening, did you go back and try to familiarize yourself with what's already been established about Kirk's father? Lord knows, there's probably a ton of stuff on the internet about him.
You know, I'd seen stuff and knew about Star Trek over the years. I mean, it's always been there, whether or not you're an avid fan. But the turnaround for the job that I'd just been shooting was just a couple of days, so I really put myself in the hands of JJ. I had just come back from doing a job in Chicago and I met with him and he said, "I think we have to work together." That was it -- the following week, I was on set. It was a whirlwind experience.
You're also in Cabin in the Woods, which is a very hush-hush horror project from Joss Whedon and Cloverfield writer Drew Goddard. Were they able to tell you anything about it when you went in to audition for it?
No! That was a very similar experience to Star Trek. I got the part in Cabin in the Woods and signed on before I'd even read a script -- I was sort of taking the word of the people involved, but we're having a great time. We've got another few weeks of filming. Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon are actually very similar to JJ. They've got that same kind of energy, they're super-intelligent, and their knowledge of film is just phenomenal.
Does it freak you out to keep signing onto these films when you haven't even read a single line you'll be saying?
You know, you just look at the people involved and what they've done previously, and you talk to them about what they want. With Cabin in the Woods, there was already a buzz about it. And you know, it's always a gamble anyway. You read a script sometimes, and it's completely different by the time it gets to the cinema.
Have they let you say anything about your character in Cabin?
No, I'm not allowed to tell you anything, man! It's funny, I've just spent the last year and a half saying that about Star Trek, and now I'm going to have to do it again with this film.
You've gotta get yourself on a normal movie sometime, Chris!
I know! Something I can talk about.
Well, here's something you can talk about: Dancing with the Stars. You were on the Australian version. How'd you do?
I didn't do very well. Tell you what, I realized I'm not a dancer! [laughs] It was a trip. I wouldn't do it again, though.
So you're not going to list dancing under "special skills" on the back of your headshot?
No. It's certainly not one of my special skills. [laughs]