In conversation with Chris Hemsworth
American superhero film Thor: Ragnarok is the sequel to 2011’s Thor and 2013’s Thor: The Dark World. It’s also the 17th film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
When Chris Hemsworth suited up again to play Thor in Marvel Studios’ Thor: Ragnarok, he was excited by the direction the character was taking. “This is the biggest character shift and a gear shift tonally in the storytelling, so that affects my approach,” says Hemsworth. “That was all birthed through director Taika Waititi’s vision and sense of humour, his attitude and need for exploration.”
Defining the word Ragnarok and what it means in terms of the story, Hemsworth explains, “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 is to prevent Ragnarok from occurring, in order to save Asgard.”
Hemsworth offers some insight as to where we find Thor at the start of the film. “At the beginning we find Thor in a bit of a journey of self-discovery,” he explains. “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.”
He continues, “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.” That’s where we pick things up, and that’s where Thor starts.
Thor also endures a few transformations, as Hemsworth explains, “There are a few physical changes with the character. First, 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.”
“Then he also loses his hammer. It’s destroyed by Hela, the villain. That forces him to question his existence, his own strength and his history and past, which sends him on a different journey. It was about stripping him back physically, and also emotionally, to rebuild him in some way, or have him rediscover something. That is a great way to break him down,” the actor offers.
Excerpts from the interview —
Where do we find Thor in this story?
The last time we saw Thor was in Avengers: Age of Ultron. At the end of that film, Thor sets off to search deeper into the villain who seems to be orchestrating all the problems affecting the characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But we don’t get bogged down with that back story. We made this one a unique story of its own.
How do you perceive your character after playing him for so many years?
I’ve been playing the character for seven years now, which seems like a lifetime but also seems like yesterday. The first film was so much fun as it was one of my first big jobs. It was all so new. I was in the hands of Ken Branagh, which was 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.
In the story, does losing his hair and hammer affect Thor’s 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 within you. The hammer was just something that orchestrated it.
And what is the relationship like between Thor and Loki, here?
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 the midst of that attitude.