The IGN Theater at the Chicago Comics And Entertainment Expo (AKA C2E2) is a huge room, but even with rows ready for hundreds of fans, the crowd was already feeling packed before the start of the convention's Chris Hemsworth panel featuring a Q&A with the actor soon to portray the God of Thunder in Marvel Studios' next blockbuster "Thor" which opens May 6 from director Kenneth Branagh.
IGN Editorial Directorl Chris Carle took the stage to introduce the actor, who appeared to wide applause. The discussion started with how Hemsworth was cast in the picture. "I moved to the United States from Australia about four years ago," the star said, noting that before he read for Branagh, he wasn't very familiar with the character but he soon read "as many comics as possible."
Hemsworth has tried to stay away from internet reaction to his part or the film. "You start to read things, and then you read things you shouldn't see," he laughed. "It's a little distracting at times. I read as many comics as I could and Norse mythology...the things that motivated the Thor comic.He explained that even though Branagh is best known for his Shakespeare films, which fits the material, he always has a great knack for humor and character. Speaking to the energy of the cast, Hemsworth explained that humor permeated the tone of the work environment. "Anthony Hopkins is wonderful. He's one of my favorite actors, and he brought the same enthusiasm as I did on my first day, and he's been in over 100 films," he explained.
"When Thor comes into this world, he's this entitled prince of the realm...and he tries to pull that with Natalie Portman and Cat Denning, and it doesn't quite work out. There's some great 'fish out of water' moments."
As far as how the movie matches with the comics, the actor explained "It's an origin story – Thor beginning this quest and beginning to take on the throne. The comic's been going for 40 or 50 years at this point, so there's lots to draw from, but the character stays the same. We've talked to a lot of people like Stan Lee...and I feel this definitely hits it on the head."
"It was awesome," he said. "I remember being a kid and dressing up as a superhero and running around the house, and it was nowhere near as cool as this." He said that the armor made for him was very heavy, but it added great effect. On the first day he filmed with Hopkins on large sets in full costume, the legendary actor leaned over to him and said, "There's no acting here, is there?"
Calling the film "a blend of Viking mythology and science fiction," Hemsworth said that Branagh helped bring a focus that didn't allow the larger than life aspect to overpower him as he tried to play a god. "He said 'Don't look at this as two gods speaking to each other – think of it as a father and a son or two brothers,' and that I could relate to." Another thing that helped the believability of the film was the full sets that were built rather than CGI backgrounds. "Audiences are not silly, we can't show them computer imagery and tell them it's real," he said. "You can get a way with a little bit of stuff, but this adds a lot."
Asked if signing on for so many films made him nervous, the actor simply said, "Nope!" He wanted to move forward with work for a long while. "Especially with the Avengers, there's these incredible characters that have been established on their own, and to bring them together is very exciting," he said, noting that he's been in contact a lot with Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans about the scope of their roles. "I could look at the comics and get an idea how ['The Avengers'] could roughly be assembled...but for our film we stayed at the
"Joss is fantastic," he said. "I worked with him on 'Cabin In The Woods' which was written and produced by him and directed by Drew Goddard." Whedon apparently called Branagh during the casting process of "Thor" and put in the good word for the actor. "He's a fanboy back to front...and they're the best people to work with. He's the most intelligent and open resource you can imagine."
The first question from the audience was, predictably, how you pronounce the name of Thor's hammer Mjolnir. Hemsworth said "Mee-Ol-Neer" was what they landed on after consulting Marvel. Hemsworth also expressed how strange and awesome it is to have an action figure of himself, which he never expected. At the request of an audience member, he screamed out "For Asgard!" to much applause.
As for how it'll be changing from "Thor" where he's the sole lead to "Avengers" where he has to split the screen time with other marquee heroes. "It helps," he said. "I'll be surrounded by people far more established with many more years experience...with so many colorful characters on screen and off screen, so it's great." Asked whether he's nervous at all about the possibility of a flop of any Marvel film hurting the long-term franchise plans, the actor said, "You can just do your part as best you can...we feel incredibly excited about it, and I'm enjoying this process. It's something where if I had to talk about something I wasn't proud of, it would be difficult. But it's great, and I'm excited for it."
He joked with another fan that he'd love to reprise his role in the remake of "Adventures In Babysitting." Later, a fan tried to ask about Skrulls as a way to trick the actor into giving away potential "Avengers" spoilers, but the actor balked.
As far as working with Natalie Portman, Hemsworth noted "She just came off 'Black Swan'" when they started filming. "She's been one of my favorite actors for a long time...and new to the business as I am, I felt very supported and very lucky."
Asked if he would like to ever play any other superheroes like Chris Evans had, the actor agreed with audience that he would like to play He-Man, but he joked that he had zero interest in being Aquaman. As a kid, Hemsworth owned a Robin costume that he wore. "I had this yellow cape and underwear that I'd where outside my pants...I should find a picture of that!"