Chris Hemsworth wouldn't be the success he is today without Elsa Pataky.
In the November issue of GQ Australia (on sale Oct. 9), Hemsworth admits his wife of six years made sacrifices so he could pursue his dream of becoming a successful actor in Hollywood. He got his big break after being cast as the lead in 2011's Thor, but as time went on, he missed the normalcy of his native Australia. So, the couple and their three children left Malibu and settled down in Byron Bay. Hollywood was "suffocating," he says. "You stop becoming a person. You have nothing to draw from because you're living in this world of pretend on and off the screen."
After Thor, Hemsworth appeared in multiple Marvel movies and was cast in big budget films like Snow White and the Huntsman and Ghostbusters. During that time, he admits, "My wife and I fell in love, had kids, didn't really see each other for a few years, then fell back in love."
"In terms of work, she's certainly given up more than I have. She'd like me to step back and be at home with the kids more, and of course, I want that, too," Hemsworth, 34, confesses. "But I feel like I'm at this crucial point in my career—I've just got to set up for longevity or I'll slip off."
Though it can put a strain on their marriage, the actor does what he can to show his gratitude. "Once you have children, every instinct and every moment of your time is consumed by that," he says. "You've got nothing for each other, so make sure you have date night even if it's once in a blue moon, because most of the time you're just too tired and you'd actually prefer to sleep." But unlike his dad, he's not the type to write love letters. "There's no shortage of how much I tell her I love her," Hemsworth admits. "But I guess there's no detail in it, why or how."
Now, Hemsworth is working on being a more thoughtful husband. "It's funny," he says. "I can be so attentive and listen to people I hardly know, then you get home and you're like, 'What was that? The 'Yeah, no, that sounds good.' Why do we do that? But you've got to switch off at some point, you know?" Whether he's at home or on location, he says, "I prefer the efficiency of phone calls. With texts, the back and forth pulls me away from the kids and what I'm doing. Not to say I don't do it. But as a society, we're close to not communicating verbally anymore."
Case in point: When he was shooting Avengers: Infinity War with the Guardians of the Galaxy cast, no one was talking in between takes. "There was a circle of people sitting on their phones, so I was like, 'Hey, remember when we used to talk to each other?'" Hemsworth says. "Chris Pratt gets up and goes, 'F--k. I know, man. It's f--ked, isn't it?' And he throws his phone down."
It should come as no surprise that the actor misses when life was simpler and communication was clearer. "I don't know about you, but I find my phone gives me a fair bit of anxiety. When you get a text, the dopamine released in your brain is like a drug," he says. "It's the same reaction that you might have to cocaine or alcohol or whatever—when you see it, it releases something. Don't have your phone next to your bed, for starters. Don't take it to dinner, because you're not giving anyone your attention anymore. Also in the past, our information sources had all sorts of ends—a newspaper comes to the end, it's finished. You stop. A book, there's a finishing point or there's a chapter. But Instagram, it's an endless feed. Facebook, it's endless. The news is endless. This is now the danger. We don't stop because there are no ends—there's nothing to limit your usage and you don't get to the bottom. That's the problem."
Hemsworth isn't just trying to change attitudes on set, either. Before production began on Thor: Ragnarok (in theaters Nov. 3), he spoke to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige about their intentions for the film. "I said, 'Why are we doing another one? I want to, but we have to change the game dramatically.' Selfishly, I was bored of myself. I'd been boxed in and limited by what I could do with the character, creatively. When [director] Taika Waititi's name came up, I was already such a fan of his...After he signed, I was so happy," he says. It was the creative change Hemsworth needed, and the story "became about how far in the wrong or right or different direction can we send it? There was so much improvisation; that's very much in his style and my vibe. That's the style of humor I love and that set the tone for the whole movie."
The experience of making the movie had a profound effect on the actor. "The creative part of my soul was absolutely fed and I felt it was the most collaborative experience I've had. We had more fun than we should've been allowed to have in that kind of movie," he says, noting he hadn't felt like that in about four years. "Since Rush, I've been looking to experience that again."
Thor: Ragnarok will undoubtedly be a box office success. Even so, he says, "You have blood, sweat, and tears in a project, and then in an hour and a half or an opening weekend, people decide if it's a pile of s--t or not. It's gutting if a movie bombs. And I do feel responsible, but you have to develop a thick skin. You want people to enjoy it, so if it does occur, it's a great feeling."
Pick up GQ Australia's November issue to read the full interview with Hemsworth.