Heroic Hemsworth

28 June 2012 | 2:24 pm | Guy Davis

Chris Hemsworth star of Snow White And The Huntsman, is also in cult fave The Cabin In The Woods: "I didn’t completely understand it back then, which was four years ago, and even now I’m still a little confused!”

Need a big, burly guy who can make good, heroic use of everyday workshop tools? Chris Hemsworth is your man. The imposing Australian actor is, of course, well-known for his portrayal of Thor, the swaggering, hammer-swinging Marvel Comics god of thunder in the movie of the same name and some little-known superhero blockbuster called The Avengers. But riding shotgun at the box office is Hemsworth's other big 2012 blockbuster, the epic fantasy Snow White And The Huntsman.

Hemsworth plays the titular Huntsman, a boozy brawler who has a broken heart and an effective way with an axe. After the tragic death of his wife, he's happy drowning his sorrows until he's press-ganged by evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) into tracking down Snow White (Kristen Stewart), the only one who can dethrone the wicked ruler. But when he encounters “the fairest of them all”, it's not long before he locates his inner hero and joins forces with Snow White. Theirs is an interesting relationship, and it's part of what motivated Hemsworth to take part in the project. “I liked the fact that it didn't follow the regular path,” he says. “She's the only light in this world of darkness and hatred and pain, and she starts to open him up again. Having someone believing in him reawakens the strength inside him, and that inspires her as well. It's an odd relationship – it's got a bit of yin and yang, a bit of a brother-sister dynamic and a bit of Han Solo-Princess Leia as well, which I liked.” Working with Stewart proved invigorating to his performance as well. “I always had an idea Kristen was going to be pretty passionate, having seen interviews and that,” he says. “You don't want someone who's just going to sit on the fence, you want someone with a definite, well-thought-out opinion and she has that. She knew everything about who Snow White was, why she did what she did. That attitude lifts everybody's game, and it's fantastic.”

As for his own character, Hemsworth admits that he was briefly reluctant to take on a character that seemed similar to Thor. But the more he delved into the Huntsman, the more he found a “broken guy” with an intriguing backstory and a compelling character arc. “He certainly has his physical strength but he's also an open wound – he's suffered this incredible loss, which has led him down this path of drinking and brawling and whatever else,” he says. “I liked the vulnerability he showed in his private moments. These tough, fighting guys can often be two-dimensional, and it's not often we get to tear them open like this, which is something I enjoyed doing.”

There's already talk of a Snow White And The Huntsman sequel (or even a Huntsman spinoff), which will sit nicely alongside Hemsworth's other franchises – Thor 2 begins filming later this year and an Avengers sequel is naturally in the pipeline, given that the first movie has already made something like eighty trillion dollars. But he's also keen to try his hand at some non-blockbuster projects, with Rush, Ron Howard's biopic of the respectful rivalry between Formula One legends James Hunt and Niki Lauda due for release early next year. (Hemsworth plays Hunt, Inglourious Basterds star Daniel Bruhl plays Lauda.) And then there's the cult-sensation-in-the-making The Cabin In The Woods, the horror-movie deconstruction produced and co-written by The Avengers' Joss Whedon. After a long delay, it's getting a limited release in Australia. And it's already winning over audiences. “Someone just asked me about that one, asking what it was about, and I told them, 'You know, I didn't completely understand it back then, which was four years ago, and even now I'm still a little confused!'” he laughs. “It's so witty and so clever, there are so many layers, and I'm gonna have to sit down with Joss Whedon at some stage and pick his brain about it a bit.”

Snow White And The Huntsman is in cinemas now and Cabin In The Woods is screening exclusively at Cinema Nova.