What Ghostbusters Taught Chris Hemsworth About Comedy
The Australian actor is known for his comic chops, but that wasn't the case when he joined the cast of the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot.
For some, the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot is a solid comedy, unfairly maligned and largely underrated. For others, who are hopefully still reading this sentence and haven’t jumped directly to the comments, the 2016 Ghostbusters is a humor graveyard. But for Chris Hemsworth, the movie marked a change in his career path, giving him tools that he still uses today.
In a recap of his previous roles for GQ, Hemsworth recalled the trepidation he felt when he came into the film. While Hemsworth did get to do a few jokes in movies such as Cabin in the Woods, The Perfect Getaway, and Vacation, he was primarily known for playing imposing and handsome characters like Thor. Hemsworth describes the experience of looking at the script for his scenes as only loosely sketched out, because he and the others would be improvising.
“I’m going to let everyone down,” Hemsworth remembered thinking. “I haven’t done this before, what am I doing?” But his worries soon dissipated when the cast and crew gave him support and put him at ease. “I just became a whole lot more comfortable because there was such a sense of camaraderie and collaboration there at play,” the actor explained. From that place of collaboration, he was able to learn from the veteran comedians in the main cast, including Melissa McCarthy and Saturday Night Live alumni Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon. Hemsworth tells GQ that the others, “just took me under their wing and we just went on this adventure, this wacky adventure of discovering who this character was.”
Even those who dislike the movie point to his character as a highlight of the film. Hemsworth plays Kevin, the airheaded receptionist hired by the team. The actor’s gags about wearing glasses without glass, or those about his dog Mike Hat, not only fit the movie’s shaggy tone but also showed off Hemsworth’s heretofore unknown comedic chops.
Since Ghostbusters, comedy has been a major part of Hemsworth’s work, even as he continues to play Thor in the MCU. Taika Waititi took advantage of the actor’s comedic skills to give Thor: Ragnarok a decidedly humorous spin, and even the character’s roles in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame are markedly more silly than in previous films. In fact, this change of tone is one of the major reasons that Thor is the first MCU character to get a fourth solo film, despite the relatively mild reception for his first two movies.
For Hemsworth, that career shift is no accident. He compared the experience of filming Ghostbusters to his time in drama school, where he and his collaborators worked to impress one another. Thanks to the support from his castmates, the anxiety melted away and filming became fun. “It just became about trying to not laugh, about trying to make the other person laugh,” Hemsworth said. “And [I] thought, ‘I wanna take that into everything I do’.” If the trailers for Thor: Love and Thunder are any indication, that’s exactly what Hemsworth continues to do.