Wearing a different hat
Throwing off Thor's armour and luscious locks, reigning Sexiest Man Alive Chris Hemsworth plays hacker for cybercrime thriller Blackhat
There is something different about People magazine's reigning Sexiest Man Alive.
Instead of his luscious, long Thor locks, Chris Hemsworth sported a close-cropped hairstyle when we met at a junket at the Four Seasons hotel last week for his new movie Blackhat.
The Australian hunk, who had his hair cut over the holidays because he was tired of his mane, looked as gorgeous as ever.
And he is treating his Sexiest Man Alive duties nonchalantly, mentioning that his responsibility from here on is to continue to "just be sexy".
"No, really, I could let myself go now," he joked to M.
"I've done it and achieved it, so now it's on the decline."
We think otherwise. He was still ridiculously picture-perfect in a blue sweater, black jeans and flashing those sparkly blue eyes.
For his latest role in the new Michael Mann-directed thriller Blackhat, Hemsworth switches gears as an intellectual bad-boy hacker who helps both the US and Chinese governments track down a dangerous world-class cybercrime network across the US, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The movie opens here tomorrow.
Hemsworth and the rest of the cast, which includes Chinese actress Tang Wei and American-Taiwanese actor-singer Wang Leehom, worked with former government employees and hackers for three months to make their portrayals believable.
His computer skills improved while shooting Blackhat and he admitted it was a great "crash course".
"I would type with index fingers before, and now, it's a nice fluid movement," the 31-year-old actor said with a laugh.
And when asked if he likes to Google himself, he said: "No, hell, no. I have (before) and... I'll never do it again.
"The problem is that when you read a good thing about yourself, that just confirms that you need that validation.
"And then when you read a bad comment, it's like I don't need to read another thing. It's not healthy."
Besides having to learn the basics of code and programming, Hemsworth also spent some time visiting prisons with Mann. He spoke to inmates about prison life so that he could get an idea of the mentality needed to play convicted hacker Nicholas Hathaway.
Hathaway is taken from prison in exchange for finding the network responsible for hacking into a Hong Kong nuclear power plant and a mercantile trade exchange.
"The biggest thing for (Mann) was who this guy was and what prison has done to him," Hemsworth said about his character. "It was about finding the right attitude for the institutionalised version of himself and then what he's like post-prison.
"It was fascinating talking to prisoners."
But he said that some of the interviews were scary, especially when he was being catcalled and eyeballed by the tougher inmates.
Still, the experience of working with Mann, who helmed classics like The Last of the Mohicans, Heat and The Insider, was worth it.
Hemsworth said: "I grew up on The Last of the Mohicans and loved all of his films. The opportunity to work with him was a no-brainer.
"And prior to even the writing of the script, I was pretty much on board to do whatever he wanted. I'm glad because it was a wonderful experience."
Expect to see more of Hemsworth exploring worlds beyond Asgard (home to Norse gods like Thor).
He will be starring in Ron Howard's period drama In the Heart of the Sea, about a whaling ship that is preyed upon by a sperm whale. It opens here on March 12.
"It's easy to go back to Thor," he said. "When you do the same thing, you kind of get into a pattern and sit in a box and you're then forced to look outside of that."
But he is not concerned that he is still most famous for his portrayal of Thor, a role he will reprise in Avengers: Age of Ultron (April 30) as well as Thor: Ragnarok (2017), because it has afforded him amazing opportunities.
"I was (afraid) at the beginning, but at the same time, what it has done for me outweighed any fear.
"And I love it, especially the Avengers, where it's not all on you. I became a fan of watching (the other) guys do their thing."
Despite a busy year ahead of him, Hemsworth admitted that he will miss his family back home in Australia.
He lives there with his Spanish actress-wife Elsa Pataky and their children, two-year-old daughter India Rose and nine-month-old twin boys, Sasha and Tristan.
He may be one of Hollywood's biggest heart-throbs, but he prefers his role as a family man.
"To be honest, until I do a press tour, I don't really hear about (Hollywood)," he said.
"Living back in Australia on the coast in a small town, I don't live and breathe (Hollywood) and don't buy into it."
Before embarking on his press tour for Blackhat, he spent four months at home, his longest in a while.
Seeing more of him this year on screen may be a bad thing for his family, but it is always a good thing for his fans.
"I would type with index fingers before, and now, it's a nice fluid movement."
- Chris Hemsworth, on how his computer skills improved while preparing for Blackhat