By: Violet Wilder
We know Chris Hemsworth; we like Chris Hemsworth. He’s one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, he’s worked hard to ascend the heights he’s now reached, and sure, he can afford to indulge once in a while. So what is his biggest vice? Fast cars, flashy gadgets, plush yachts? Well, considering the actor currently lives in the sandy wilds of Australia’s Byron Bay — with his Spanish wife Elsa Pataky and their three children, India Rose, eight, and six-year-old twins Sasha and Tristan — it perhaps makes sense he has a plentiful supply of surfboards, even if you’ll see very few other members of the A-list elite looking to hang ten.
“I know people want to imagine I spend all my life a showbiz parties but it’s really not me,” he begins. “Perhaps in the early days it was good fun to soak up the limelight a bit, but as you get older that whole thing becomes less and less attractive, and you actually grow to hate it.” That’s never who Chris Hemsworth was, anyway. His childhood was spent embracing the outdoors, going after outward bound pursuits and anything that meant fitness, health and oxygen. “I think getting the best out of life normally comes back to looking out for very simple things and recognizing how important they are,” he continues. ”We live in a world that promotes wealth and excess and stardom and all that flashy stu, but real joy and satisfactions comes from people and nature around you. That, for me, is the best way to live.”
Friendly, funny and charming, the 37-year-old Thor star has denitely reclined back into family life after a chaotic decade in front of the camera.
The acceleration with which the Aussie actor suddenly leapt into our consciousness from Australian soap Home and Away in 2004, progressing to Star Trek and A Perfect Getaway, ultimately paved the way for his portrayal of Marvel hero Thor. With a role that combined comic book legacy with incredible special effects and, of course, a need to bulk up for a role in a way he had never done before, Hemsworth accepted as well that his star was about to rise into a new place. The hugely successful sequels and spin-os duly arrived, while other lead roles in big-budget movies such as Rush, Snow White and the Huntsman, In the Heart of the Sea and Men in Black: International have seen the actor assume film icon status.
“The fame thing is exciting but, at my core, the biggest thrill is being an actor, having fun with these roles and creating art. Sometimes that comes about slowly on a project and elevates the further forward it goes; other times you just have to glance at the script for a few moments to understand the power and potential of what lays in front of you.
“I felt that the first time I looked at Thor, but I’ve had that feeling with so many projects — not just the big-budget movies or those with other great actors, but the smaller movies where you can see there is so much mystery, energy and intrigue in a character. That, to me, is just as exciting.”
Certainly, the success of Thor has, ironically, given Hemsworth the license to move away from the character. “It’s probably fair to say the break from the industry has come at the right time for me. Whatever you do, you always want to go out on a high, and such has been the scale of the last few movies I‘ve done, it makes you feel like you can have a break from things without too much to prove.”
That break has certainly embraced time spent with his family. In 2016 the Hemsworth clan moved back to Australia, even at a time when all the big studios were calling. “People took that as a backward step, yet for me it was anything but,” he says. “We all know how easy it is to get around the world these days, and really what I was looking for was a way of gaining complete separation from the industry in the relative peace and serenity of Oz, whilst still knowing I could hop on a plane and be in at a meeting in the States in 24 hours.”
While Hemsworth’s film career sits at an all-time high without the need to keep refueling it, the satisfaction he derives from being a husband and a father continues to ascend, and that can only happen with time spent as a family; the idyllic surroundings are a happy bonus. “There’s something very unique and beautiful about Australia and, ultimately, it’s been great to get to know that again, and obviously I am so glad my wife Elsa has been so supportive of that too; but really you can be anywhere in the world — it’s the people that count.”
And it’s a close family spirit that envelops seemingly everything they do, certainly if the gorgeous, seductive carefree days on the beach at posted on Instagram are anything to go by.
“Ultimately, I want our children to grow up with the same kind of close spirit that my brothers [actors Luke and Liam Hemsworth] and I experienced,” he says. “My father was surfing and playing ball with us, and our mother was always there keeping us in line. My parents encouraged us to do what we wanted without ever trying to control us.
“I grew up on cattle and buffalo stations in the Northern Territory and then my family and I moved back to Melbourne and then down the coast.
“Those kinds of experiences helped shape me and my brothers’ way of looking at the world and making us more adventurous. Traveling, meeting different kinds of people and exploring different places will teach you more about life than you can pick up from reading books.”
As well as exploring their unique surroundings, returning Australia has also offered the opportunity to kick back and chill, not least in this time of year when the coming months bring on the Aussie summertime, just as the rest of us are plunged into winter chills.
That said, it’s not all rest and relaxation for Hemsworth — he has a new language to master given his wife, Elsa Pataky, the model and actress, originates from Madrid.
“Elsa speaks Spanish to our kids and everyone’s fluent in Spanish in the house… except for me!” he laughs. “I’ve always been meaning to learn the language but have never managed to do it. My kids love speaking in another language, though, and I’m happy that they will grow up able to speak both English and Spanish.
“Give me another year and I’ll get it, because I do love Spain. We travel there as much as we can to visit Elsa’s family, much like here in Australia, it’s a place that has its own unique feel. From beautiful cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, to coastal towns that are steeped in history, to stunning beaches, it has it all.”
The family’s ability to travel may be somewhat hampered by the restrictions on global movement that we are all experiencing; and that slowdown is matched by the dormancy of the studios. Hemsworth does at least have What If?, a Thor TV series to look forward to, plus a follow-up to the Netflix series Extraction.
Although most things remain on hold, the actor doesn’t mind — he has always been a man who can see the bigger picture. “There are much more important things going on at the moment than film and TV.
“We will all come back stronger, I am sure, and I look forward to that day.”