Chris Hemsworth has again suited up to play Thor in Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Ragnarok” and says he’s excited by the direction the character takes in the story.
In a recent interview, Hemsworth offered some insight as to where we find Thor at the start of the film and how he felt working on the set in his native Australia. Excerpts:
How do you perceive your character today after playing him for so long?
I’ve been playing the character seven years now, which on one hand seems like a lifetime ago yet it seems like only yesterday that we were shooting the first film. The first film was so much fun because it was one of my first big jobs. It was all so new. I was in the hands of Ken Branagh, which was just wonderful. He brought the Shakespearian tone, history and the comic books to life in a way that I don’t think anyone else could have.
This film in particular is the biggest character shift and a gearshift tonally in the storytelling, so that affects my approach. That was all birthed through Taika’s vision and his sense of humour, his attitude and his need for exploration. Doing something different really paralleled what I wanted to achieve in this and what the studio wanted to do. Kevin Feige and the team at Marvel wanted to see where we could take it, and it’s been of the most exciting and fun sets I’ve ever been on.
Where do we find Thor in this story?
The last time we saw Thor on screen was in “Avengers: Age of Ultron”. At the end of that film, Thor basically sets off to search deeper into the villain who seems to be orchestrating all of the problems that are affecting the characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But in this, we don’t really get bogged down with a lot of that back story. We made this one a unique story of its own. At the beginning we find Thor in a bit of a journey of self-discovery. He’s from Asgard but turned down being king and lived on Earth. But still he’s not from Earth, so he doesn’t quite fit in there. So, he’s off searching for answers.
On his way, he discovers all sorts of chaos throughout the realms and villains that have been unleashed. And no one’s stopping them, so he returns home to ask his father what’s going on and why the fires are not being put out. As we know from the last film, his father may not be his father. It may be Loki doing some sort of illusion. So we have some fun with that and then it really kicks off from there into the rest of the story. But that’s where we pick it up, and that’s where Thor starts.
What are Thor’s physical transformations?
There are a few physical changes with the character in this film. The first one is he loses his hair. He’s in a gladiator world where part of their processing is to chop the hair off, which happens off screen. And he turns up with his hair hacked off. It certainly gave me a different attitude. Different costumes, different weapons, different, cast of characters to work off give you a different energy. And so even having a different haircut can affect the way you move.
Then he also loses his hammer. It’s destroyed by Hela, the villain in this film. That forces him to question everything in existence and his own strength and his own history and past, and sends him again on a different journey. It was about stripping him back physically, but also emotionally, in order to rebuild him in some way or have him have to rediscover something. So that is a great way to break him down.
Does losing his hair and hammer affect his strength?
Initially Thor thinks it’s going to affect his power. He feels that the hammer is the source of his power. It’s that classic idea that the power is really within you. The hammer was just something that orchestrated it.
What is Ragnarok?
Ragnarok is the end of all things; the end of the universe. Life itself as we know it ends. Ragnarok in this film applies to Asgard and the ticking time bomb was to prevent Ragnarok from occurring in order to save Asgard.
What does Thor encounter in this film?
He’s from a world where he is by far the most able and strong and powerful character. He then is thrust into the world of the planet Sakaar where one no one cares that he is a prince of Asgard. So that doesn’t buy him any power or value. His powers are reduced due to obedience discs that are attached to him. He’s an equal now. He doesn’t sit above the normal folk of the town. And that was a very smart way of stripping back his powers and making him relatable.
Talk about Hela, the first female villain.
Cate [Blanchett] is just brilliant as Hela. She is one of the greatest actors that has ever been. I was so excited to see what she was going to do with Hela. I had ideas of what she might do but I was completely blindsided by the outcome. She just has this insane off-kilter attitude or look or kind of movement to her character. At times you find yourself empathising with Hela and then you remember that she is slaughtering people and destroying everything. That kind of conflict within an audience makes for a far more interesting film and journey to watch.
What is the relationship between Thor and Loki in this story?
Thor has always given Loki a second chance and trusted him time and again but in this one it’s different. He accepts what Loki is and leaves him at that. And maybe that’s out of a more intelligent attempt to bring him back. Or maybe Thor truly has run out of options and ideas to bring him back.
And it seems to get through to Loki this time. Who knows for how long? I think inherently there is good in Loki but he has a warped view and an entitlement of where he should be and what he should be given. But it was fun to play that change in Thor’s attitude and to do something different, yet we still have great brotherly moments in amongst that attitude.
How did the production wind up in Australia?
I asked if we could shoot in Australia and thankfully the Marvel guys said they would look into it but couldn’t promise anything. To me, being home again for more than two weeks would be fantastic. And it worked out.
It was so good. It was so nice being there. There’s just such a familiarity with the crew and everything here. And I get to sleep in my own bed. But I also t think there’s such wonderful talent here as well, in the cast and crew across the board. So it was fantastic. And the weather was brilliant. I don’t think we got rained out at all. It’s just been one of the best shoots I’ve been part of.
Describe a day on set with the director, Taika Waititi.
There’s lots of music and usually some dancing, lots of jokes, lots of craziness, lots of insanity and lots of fun. Lots of exploration, lots of just trying things and then seeing where we could push it, and so on. I’ve got to say it’s definitely the most light-hearted and fun set I’ve been on. The tone of the film is responsible for the environment that Taika created. It makes you feel okay about trying something you might not have tried before or taken outside the box. You feel in safe hands. And you’ve got to trust the director to do that. I think everyone’s felt like that on this film. It’s been great.