During a pit stop in Singapore for the F1 race last month, Chris Hemsworth talked to Options about his many roles, including as TAG Heuer ambassador, actor and father
SINGAPORE (Oct 7): Chris Hemsworth, one of the highest-paid actors in the world, has starred in many movies including Red Dawn, Snow White and the Huntsman, In the Heart of the Sea, Rush, Men in Black: International and Ghostbusters. But it is his role as the hammer-wielding Thor in the Marvel franchise for which he is adored by legions of fans all over the world.
Last month, as members of the media and guests gathered at Silver Leaf at Gardens by the Bay to await Hemsworth’s arrival, someone in the crowd exclaimed, “Look, Thor is here!’ The crowd quickly parted to make way for the God of Thunder as he walked towards the hospitality room specially built for media interviews.
Hemsworth, who had flown in earlier in the day, arrived punctually for his 7pm interview with journalists from Singapore and the region. He was in town for the Formula 1 race in his capacity as TAG Heuer ambassador. Just before the festivities began, Options spent 10 minutes with Hemsworth, who at 6ft 3in towered over this writer’s 5ft nothing height. It was a huge relief to sit down for the interview and even then, the chairs seemed a little too small for his frame as he had to stretch his legs often during our conversation.
The first thing I noticed was the shiny accessory on his wrist — the TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 timepiece. “[It] is one of my favourite watches. It is really beautiful. You can dress it up or down; there’s also this soft, rugged sports band, which means I can wear it for any activity such as surfing and training, and also to events like this,” he says.
Hemsworth’s first encounter with the brand was a long time ago. “My grandpa had an old TAG Heuer watch many, many years ago, which I was always trying to get my hands on. I think it is still buried in his drawer somewhere.”
The actor became the first-time owner of a TAG Heuer watch when he was gifted one by director Ron Howard when filming Rush, the film about the well-known rivalry between F1 drivers James Hunt, played by Hemsworth, and Niki Lauda during the 1976 F1 season.
“When [Howard] gave me a TAG Heuer watch, it was really [then that] I was first introduced to watches in great detail. And obviously, the [brand’s] relationship with Formula 1 was a wonderful crossover as they were one of the original sponsors in Formula 1 and were quite heavily featured throughout the movie.”
TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 02
Reference number: CBG2A1Z.FT6157 Automatic chronograph
Polished fixed ceramic bezel Fine-brushed and polished steel case Black skeleton dial with rhodium- plated luminescent indexes
After he was made TAG Heuer ambassador in 2016, Hemsworth’s knowledge of the brand grew. He says he now appreciates the finer details of the watches and is quite passionate about the craftsmanship that goes into making them. “The factory visit was fantastic as I got to see the dedication and the commitment, the enthusiasm and the work that go into it. It was wonderful.”
Hemsworth reveals his vulnerable side when asked to cite an example of when he did not crack under pressure, in reference to TAG Heuer’s famous tagline. He confesses to being an adrenaline junkie when it comes to acting and says he has had a love-hate relationship with it since he started acting. But fear drove him to “better myself and better prepare myself for situations I would encounter on set. In order to remove some of that fear and limit, it motivated me to work harder”, he says.
At the movies
While Hemsworth’s portfolio seems to veer towards action and drama, he was cast against type in Ghostbusters (2016), where he traded action for laughs. He had a small role as the good-looking office assistant in the movie, which stars funny ladies Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones.
We tell him we would love to see him in more comedies. “I’m always trying to do something different from what I had previously done. Thor originally started out as a dramatic character and then evolved into one with a more comedic feel, then to [another dimension in Avengers:] End Game. I felt that I had to infuse a whole lot of things into that character. I don’t like to be pigeonholed into character labels such as comedy, drama or action.”
And he prefers roles that keep him guessing, on his toes and interested. He says Ghostbusters was a huge turning point. While he initially lacked confidence doing the movie, he had so much fun in the process and found the experience “wildly intimidating”. What he did was just “roll the dice and improvise a lot. I enjoyed making a fool of myself, yeah”.
Hemsworth is married to actress-model Elsa Pataky, with whom he has a daughter and twin sons. He is a protective father and prefers to keep his private life private. His Instagram account does not show the faces of his children.
How has fatherhood changed him? “It’s kept me busy, that’s for sure. It’s pushed everything else into a distant second. They’ve certainly become the focus and it’s wonderful. [Fatherhood] teaches you patience and I’m not sure I’ve mastered that by any means, but they test you. They bring about all sorts of emotions in you, and I love that. It’s so fun.”
He says his seven-year-old daughter and five-year-old boys have their own “vibrant little personalities”. “You can actually hang out with them now. Not just watching them and warding them off danger. You still do that, I guess, but it’s like having a couple of friends now. We surf together — we do small waves, but they love it, bike rides... it’s a different experience,” he says with a smile.
Being a father is one of the reasons Hemsworth is the ambassador of Australian Childhood Foundation, a national charity that prioritises the safety and welfare of children. It provides counselling, advocacy, education, child abuse prevention programmes as well as research.
He is happy to support the foundation as his parents worked in child protection for many years and supported the same charity too.
Hemsworth says his parents taught him and brothers Liam and Luke the importance of having a loving and caring childhood, and were a big influence on the brothers.
“It was always clear to me the work that my parents did; the huge amount of selflessness and the need to protect the most vulnerable — children. My parents have wonderful big hearts and I always found that inspiring.” He adds that they do a lot of rehabilitation work with children who have suffered abuse and provide therapeutic counselling care, in addition to raising awareness about the importance of having a good childhood.
Thor fans will be glad to know that Hemsworth will return to the screen as Thor in a couple of years. It has just been announced that Thor: Love and Thunder is set to be released in 2021. Hemsworth is not able to give any details on the movie as yet, not even whether Thor will be the same beer-guzzling, couch potato he was in Avengers: Endgame.
All he is able to say is: “I couldn’t be happier about this. It will again be directed by Taika Waititi. But it is very early days yet and I’m as keen as you are to find out what Thor is going to be. I think the fans are keen to see what the next step or journey is for him because he has been vastly different each time. So, it’s exciting to feel like we get another chance to reinvent him again.”
If he had the chance to go back in time just as Thor and the other Avengers did in Avengers: Endgame, what would he tell his 16-year-old self? “That’s funny because Kate McKinnon asked me this question once. I’d say probably to worry less and just enjoy life because you spend so much time worrying about what is the ultimate achievement.”
He says when he looks back on his life, he finds himself skipping over some periods and missing moments because he was too focused on what was further down the road to enjoy the moment. “Enjoy every moment, enjoy every second of it, and worry less,” he advises.
It is safe to say Hemsworth is probably savouring every second of his charmed life now.