Australia is hardly short of acting talent, having produced generations of wonderful talents over the years. But among the current crop of global stars, few have enjoyed quite so much consistent box office success as Chris Hemsworth, who moviegoers will instantly recognise as Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) franchise.
But while this role as the muscular God of Thunder has brought great wealth and fame, Hemsworth is capable of demonstrating his acting chops in far more than just superhero roles. Indeed, his diversity and range are often greatly underappreciated, largely due to being perceived as little more than an action hero.
Although we shall begin with this typecast of sorts, let’s take a journey through the impressive variety of roles that Hemsworth brought to life, underlining a willingness to explore diverse characters and subject matter.
Hemsworth’s most iconic role is undoubtedlyThor, the Norse God of Thunder. He has played this character in nine of the Marvel movies, showcasing his ability to bring a larger-than-life, godly comic book character to the screen. As part of the franchise rights, his image, voice, and persona have also featured in several video game tie-ins.
Much to the delight of his fans Down Under, officially licenced Thor pokies feature at sites featuring among Top Australian Gambling’s real money casino picks, featuring Hemsworth in all his Marvel glory on the spinning reels. He also provided the voice and worked on motion capture, reprising his role in AAA video game releases to accompany the MCU franchise.
Action and Adventure
In addition to Thor, Hemsworth has taken on various action and adventure roles. Many of these involve stunts and are physically demanding, which is why the Aussie has always remained eager about keeping himself in top shape. This penchant for action has made him an ideal fit for such roles, whenever directors and producers are looking for just the right fit.
Recent action projects include Extraction (2020) and Extraction 2 (2023), taking on the action-packed role of a fearless mercenary, generating positive reviews for this Netflix release. Previously, he also played the leader of a soldier in 12 Strong, recounting the story of a special forces unit in Afghanistan
Always welcoming of the chance to explore real-life stories, Hemsworth can shape his acting skills to take on the persona of iconic sporting figures. In 2013 he wonderfully captured the character of British motor racing legend James Hunt in Rush, exploring the infamous Formula One rivalry between Hunt and Nikki Lauda, superbly played by Daniel Brühl.
The role itself required a more nuanced and emotionally charged performance, but Hemsworth did a fine job of depicting Hunt according to the official Formula1 website. This included comments from Lord Alexander Hesketh, who said the Australian was “uncanny” portraying his friend and former driver, who became a racing icon during the 1970s.
Historical & Period Cinema
Hemsworth starred in the biographical period drama In the Heart of the Sea in 2015, based on the true story of the American whaling ship Essex, which sank in 1820. Intriguingly, this maritime yarn was actually the original story that inspired Moby Dick, pitting man against nature and the ferocious oceans.
The role itself showcased Hemsworth’s ability to take on historical and emotionally complex characters, methodically researching and preparing for this portrayal, aiming to capture the very essence of the person and the era in which they lived.Given his performance, hopefully more such opportunities will come for the Australian in this particular genre.
Horror& Dark Comedy
The same year that Thor propelled Hemsworth to international fame, he was also busy with another project, delving into the horror genre. And while The Cabin in the Woods was filled with plenty of the usual cliches, including lots of gory incidents and mishaps, the Aussie actor perfectly fit the bill as the stereotypical American jock.
Not afraid to take knocks and even get bumped off midway through, this horror flick demonstrated that along with some darkly comedic interludes, Hemsworth is perfectly fine with being just another cast member, happy to play his part in the bigger picture. While not yet considered a cult classic, reviewers at Horror Origins enjoyed the movie and Hemsworth’s role.
Now such a famed and accomplished actor, we sometimes forget that Hemsworth’s breakthrough in Hollywood came in a science fiction role, and in one of the most cherished franchises. He took the helm of the starship Enterprise as George Kirk in the Star Trek (2009) reboot, none other than the father of iconic Captain James T. Kirk.
While his appearance was fairly brief in the opening sequence, Hemsworth played a pivotal role as the Star Trek story began, filled with emotion as the senior Kirk sacrifices his life. This perfectly epitomised the “needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” theme, which has endured throughout TV and movie series.