Due to begin filming Thor 2 in August with Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor, we chatted to Chris Hemsworth the day after the premiere for his new film, Snow White and the Huntsman, about being terrified by Charlize Theron, working with Joss Whedon, making Marvel films, and why he doesn’t want to be thought of as the next Arnie…
(We’ve also collected Hemsworth’s thoughts on Thor 2, Game of Thrones, Star Trek 2 and The Avengers sequel here, should you fancy it).
Between hammers, axes and Formula 1 racing [Hemsworth plays British F1 driver James Hunt in Ron Howard’s new biopic, Rush], you’ve had a pretty macho year, would you say it’s your job to attract men who wouldn’t necessarily want to see a fairy tale movie to a film about Snow White?
I don’t know. I guess someone else orchestrates the business plotting and what have you and if that is the case, then great. The response from men has been ‘Oh wow, I didn’t expect it was going to be that type of movie, I thought it was a movie for women or for young girls’ it strikes at a whole lot of themes and ticks a lot of boxes and there’s a nice combination of epic battle sequences and humour and heart and simplicity and nice character moments.
One of the producers has described Huntsman as “…a big, fun summer movie”. As someone who’s in the biggest, most fun summer action movie of the year in The Avengers, would you say that best describes Huntsman?
It’s certainly a big, summer… film [laughs], there are moments of fun and moments of action and also loads of tragedy and it’s pretty dark. I saw it last night and thought, wow, it’s even more so than I thought it would be.
Was that the first time you’d seen it finished?
Yeah. Finished, that was the first time and especially going through the dark forest and all the spirits and what have you had been put in, I was like [shudders].
…and Charlize of course.
Charlize, yes. I knew that was going to be intense. My first day on set was my scene with her in the throne room, and I was like, oh my God, she’s vicious. What I loved about her character was that you can’t help but have an understanding for why she’s doing things, you feel for her. If you have conflict within an audience about how they feel about the villain, that’s great.
Do you think she’s a sympathetic villain then?
Yeah, obviously you don’t agree with the by-product of her circumstances, what she ends up doing. I think though, when you hear her backstory and also at the very end when she’s with Snow White and she’s now vulnerable, and you go like, Jesus I understand why you’re so pissed off! You know, like ‘It was wrong what you did but…’ She wasn’t just bad for the sake of being bad. That’s boring in films.
Who’s scarier, Loki or Ravenna?
Ravenna would kick his arse [laughs] for sure. Loki was fun. It’s a different sort of movie in that sense that Marvel films don’t go dark like that, this kind of falls towards the Christopher Nolan Batman kind of world I think, as far as the gothic darker take on things, whereas Marvel do their own thing, they’re the big, fun, summer action movies.
What both of them have though, I feel more so than ever, is that we’re combining themes in movies, it’s not much that it’s either an action film or a romance film or a comedy, it’s like, all these films now have all these themes colliding together and creating these big adventures. You have Charlize, and then Hopkins in Thor, and then Ken Branagh directing a film like that it’s because they’re no longer kind of one or the other like they were ten years ago.
You mean comic book films aren’t quite so marginalised?
Yeah. I got asked the other day, did you always want to be the next Schwarzenegger? And I thought, that’s what you’ve got from what I’ve done? I was really disappointed, like I thought, you know, that I’d chosen these scripts and loved them because they had real actors in them and real story and heart, and sometimes with films the action overshadows anything else.
I didn’t get Arnie so much from the films…
[laughs] Good! It was at a press conference and I looked around and thought, is someone going to defend me? Please!
Talking about superhero films, have you read Tom Hiddleston’s piece he wrote about why we need them and so on?
No, where was it?
In The Guardian, a broadsheet paper over here.
Jesus, he’s a clever man isn’t he? What was it about?
How serious actors shouldn’t look down on those roles and that we need superhero films to talk about universal themes without things like real-world nationality or religious divisions getting in the way.
Good on him, cool!
Back to Huntsman, Rupert’s described Kristen’s character as a female Luke Skywalker, so it got me thinking, what does that make you?
[laughs] Princess Leia! Yeah, I’m Princess Leia, that was my motivation! Wow, that’s great, I like that [laughs], I’m going to steal that, it’s funny. I loved the Hans Solo sort of feel to the script, sort of Indiana Jones like what Harrison Ford does so well, it’s a bit of vulnerability but he’s rough, and there’s a heart in there.
The Huntsman’s a Western movie character isn’t he? I mean, from a Scottish Western…
Yeah. John Lee Hancock who wrote Unforgiven, came and did some work on the script and we had a lot of discussions about that, about the sort of bar brawl, and there were a whole load of other scenes that didn’t end up in the film but showed that even more, which I loved, that sort of character that you don’t really see as much anymore.
How does working with a first-time director like Rupert compare to working with Joss and Kenneth?
They’re all completely different, literally, in so many ways. Ken obviously is an actor’s director, in-depth discussions about it and also, if you’re ever like ‘How do I do this, I’m not feeling this’ it’s like bang, there it is from an actor’s point of view, he has an insider understanding of it obviously.
Joss was like, you see that film [The Avengers] and you see his style which is like he knows the fan-boy pop culture world, it’s very relevant to right now with everything that’s going on, his humour, it’s very voice of the audience, there’s not a wink at the camera but there’s a bit of a sort of, you’re in on the joke with us. And that’s why that film I think is so universally loved.
Now this was much more kind of, you get to come in the dark cinema and sit and I’m going to show you a story. It’s a very sort of visceral way of film-making, you can almost sort of smell the environments you’re in. Such attention to detail with the world and the earth and the buildings, you can see and feel all the little crevices and cracks and things you know, it’s not just sort of, shot here, done, now you guys act. Visually, that’s Rupert’s eye, that’s his world, he knows how to tell it visually, but also a great take on character, more so than I thought there was going to be for someone who you make the assumption is just from a visual background.
How did your role change from the first day you saw the script to the film you saw last night?
By the time we finished shooting, we had something like a 3 or 4 hour movie, just because there was so much stuff, so for that reason, there was less. There were quite a few scenes that weren’t in the movie and you can’t help but miss them out of just your own ego, like ‘I put work into that, where is it?’ but watching it last night you really see that it all… I think the character was sort of, what would I say, he was probably a bit more elusive than what we had shot. What we’d shot was far more, here is why he’s doing this, this is who, this is how, so you knew more about him. There’s now a bit more mystery which I kind of enjoyed, less is more.
Was it always the intention that he would be one of the love interests?
No. By the time I got the script, when I started to be involved, prior to me jumping on board it was older actors they were looking at, it was more father figures for the Huntsman. It was just going down a classic path of he was just helping her and the prince and her was the story we know. Whereas when I was cast, Rupert said, well because it’s younger now you can’t ignore it, they’re the same age, there’s going to be an attraction, there’s going to be chemistry. Then we started rehearsing and it became more evident that maybe we could take it in this direction. So I kind of loved that, I think that’s what I enjoyed about the script was that it wasn’t what we know, it kind of took on a life of its own, someone didn’t just write one version, as various actors were attached, that dictated where the story went, which never happens really.
Will that happen on Thor 2? Will you have input on what happens?
The problem is that they set the release date before they’ve even cast these films a lot of the time, or even written the script, and that’s right now, so it is always playing catch-up and chasing your tail a bit, which is strange because as big as these films are, you’d think wouldn’t you just have everything in place? [laughs].
Chris Hemsworth, thank you very much!