‘How do you make someone stronger than the strongest person?’ This was the vex of Stan Lee, creator of Spider-man, the Hulk, Captain America and Daredevil, among a host of Marvel Comics superheroes. Answer? ‘Don’t make him human – make him superhuman.’ So it was that in 1961, Thor, the god of Thunder, was born.
Now, after 50 years yoked to comics, the Norse enforcer hits the big screen in the form of Aussie Chris Hemsworth, the latest of a long line of local soap opera stars (Guy Pearce, Ryan Kwanten) to crack Hollywood. Hemsworth, 27, spent three years in the cast of Aussie soap Home & Away, and is the middle of three actor brothers from Melbourne – older brother Luke is a Neighbours regular and Liam, 21, is most famous as Miley Cyrus’s twice-over ex.
Yet Hemsworth recognised himself in Thor. ‘Right from the first rehearsal I had a good grip on the character and the story,’ he explains. ‘There was a rawness to Thor I could relate to – his fatalistic view on life and fearlessness in battle. He’s a wild boy.’
Hemsworth says a feral youth in the sandhills of Port Phillip, south of Melbourne, plus his stint on Home & Away (‘constant work, constant feedback – the best learning curve an actor could ask for’) taught him plenty about exiled ancient warriors who save planets. ‘A rough-and-tumble childhood with two brothers, an endless supply of self-built and imaginary weapons and a grandpa with an air rifle? Perfect preparation!’ he laughs. ‘I still read all the comics and books on Norse mythology. But then I broke it down scene by scene, looking for truth, relating it father to son, brother to brother, boy meets girl.’
Hemsworth has admirable support – Natalie Portman as love interest Jane Foster (‘as sweet and wonderful as you imagine’), Anthony Hopkins as Odin, father of Thor and ruler of Asgard (‘he’s made 120 films but he retains the enthusiasm of that ﬁrst day on set’) and director Kenneth Branagh, who nixed Hemsworth’s first screen test in 2008, only to re-test him a year on then hand him the lead in a Dhs1 billion 3D epic.
Although soon to be seen in horror flick The Cabin in the Woods and a remake of 1984’s Red Dawn, Hemsworth can’t ice his berserkergang (Norwegian for ‘warrior madness’) just yet. He’ll reprise Thor in 2012’s The Avengers alongside Robert Downey Jr (as Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America) and Mark Ruffalo (the Hulk), directed by Joss Whedon.
‘Yeah, it’s a dream. It’s mindblowing,’ he admits. ‘But there’s also: “How do I pull it off?” Then again, in lots of ways, Thor isn’t that big a stretch from the fantasy worlds in which my brothers and I always played.’ Thor is in UAE cinemas now.