A funny thing happened in the past five years to Chris Hemsworth. The action star of Thor, Snow White and the Huntsman & Blackhat embraced smaller comedic supporting roles in Vacation & Ghostbusters, stealing these films from right under more established comedy names. Since then Hemsworth’s action franchises have utilized their leading man’s natural comedic timing – The Huntsman: Winter’s War reframed The Huntsman as a more buffoonish character and Thor: Ragnarok has followed suit, embracing the comedic leaning of its star.
On the set of Thor: Ragnarok last year, everyone – director Taika Waititi, producer Brad Winderbaum, co-stars Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson – all stressed how Ragnarok’s Thor would be a departure from the previous two films, embracing a newfound wisecracking, sarcastic side to The God of Thunder. Chris Hemsworth too agreed with this assessment, revealing that at times its almost as if he’s playing a completely different character.
In the following on-set interview with Chris Hemsworth, the actor discusses this new comedic side to Thor, working on the character with Taika Waititi and the relationship status between Thor & Jane. For the full interview, read below.
How is Thor: Ragnarok different than the previous films?
CHRIS HEMSWORTH: A lot of Thor’s story — in the first film, [it’s] earning the right to [become king] and take on that responsibility. In the second film, he pulls away from it. Then we ended The Avengers with him saying there’s something going on out there. There are some bigger questions I need answered. So he’s on a personal journey to find these answers [when] his home draws him back and he gets completely torn out of anything familiar. This is where the whole film shifts and we’re on different worlds that we haven’t seen before. There are different looks to all the characters. There’s different dynamics: the coupling of myself with Mark [Ruffalo] brought out a whole new tone for both of our characters. That’s been really enjoyable because it’s kept us on our toes and it’s going keep audiences on their toes too. It’s a whole different energy, look, and feel than any of the Thor films we’ve done before; even different than any of the other Marvel films, which is great.
Did your approach to Thor change the third time out?
HEMSWORTH: In the first film, we had a lot of fish-out-of-water humor. Since it was an origin story, there was a lot of naivety. It was sort of Crocodile Dundee. In the second film, the story didn’t lend itself to many opportunities to have those moments of humor and I’ve missed that. When I saw [Thor: The Dark World], I was happy with it but I thought the next one’s got to be more fun. I was a big fan of Taika [Waititi’s] work. In all of his films, he strikes this beautiful balance of humor and heart. It’s all grounded in a reality, but it’s fun and enjoyable. That’s what we’re going to do with [Thor: Ragnarok]. This could be a flat out comedy if we wanted or we could pull it back and meet it in the middle. But I’ve never improvised so much with this character, which has been really exciting. Taika will just yell suggestions while rolling. ‘Try this, try that.’ That has really changed the game for myself on this film.
Are you finding new shades of humor to the character?
HEMSWORTH: [Thor’s] very much a fish out of water again. The situations he finds himself in are very removed from any kind of Asgardian, ethereal [realm]. There’s a greater awareness now, a maturity to [Thor]… He can’t go back into completely adolescent-mode like the first [film]. [I’ve] got to go, ‘What would [I] expect Thor to do or say and how can [I] come about it the other direction?’ That lends to going, ‘Oh, this doesn’t even feel like the character anymore,’ which I think is a good thing.
One of the more fascinating parts of the franchise has been the relationship between Thor and Loki… How do you continue that relationship without repeating what you’ve already done before?
HEMSWORTH: Without giving too much away, I didn’t want to repeat that relationship either. And Tom felt the same. All of us were like, ‘What can we do again here?’ There’s a bit of reversal as far as… In the first films, a lot of the time you’re seeing Thor going, ‘Come back Loki, and da-da-da-da.’ [But now] there’s a feeling from Thor that’s just like, ‘You know what, kid? Do what you want. You’re a screw up. So whatever. Do your thing.’
We’ve also heard that when Thor first meets Valkyrie, he’s a bit of a fan…
HEMSWORTH: It’s like Thor’s meeting his hero. He’s absolutely smitten by her because of her history being a Valkyrie; but she’s also this beautiful woman so he’s caught off guard. She could beat the shit out of him if she wanted. He hasn’t come up against that very often. It certainly wasn’t case with Jane. That was a whole different sort of affection and love there.
So Thor is just over Jane now?
HEMSWORTH: Uh… we have some very respectable fun with how that relationship may have come to a mutual end.
It seems like Thor faces much bigger challenges here than the previous films…
HEMSWORTH: The thing with the origin story… there’s so much room there because you get to start from nothing and you’re in that ride and you get to the end of the film and you’re the hero, nice job. Then you come to the next film and it’s like how do we break him down again? Removing Thor from his environment and putting him into a situation where all of sudden, he’s fairly equal with everybody was a really smart [decision]. Now he’s got to use his brain as much as his brawn. He’s up against it the whole way through this time and no step he takes is easy when he’s climbing this particular mountain.
How does Thor: Ragnarok tie into the broader Marvel universe?