In a video career retrospective with Vanity Fair while promoting Thor: Love and Thunder, Chris Hemsworth reflected on one of his earliest roles, playing a small but pivotal role in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. In the opening of the 2009 film Hemsworth portrayed George Kirk, father to James T. Kirk.
Of the audition process, Hemsworth reminisced, “I got called into J.J. Abrams’ office ... I knew it was for Star Trek but I didn’t know what character or anything. And it was basically based on an audition I had for the lead role [of James T. Kirk] that Chris Pine had played.” he said. “I don’t know how they sifted through it and thought, ‘oh he looks a bit similar, let’s get him in.’ So [Abrams] came in and he handed me the script and I just read through the scene, and I did something right.”
On accepting the role, Hemsworth recalled the advantages of being an unknown actor long before his Marvel Studios days. “I remember not really understanding what I was a part of potentially, which was a good thing. If I had known it was going to be the relaunching of Star Trek and become the film it became, I’m sure I would have been a lot more intimidated ... I had auditioned on a Friday and then was shooting on the Monday. So there wasn’t a whole lot of time for me to process what it was. There’s something that happens with young actors … there’s just such an honesty and a purity to how they perform before anyone gets involved ... there’s a freedom to that because I didn’t have a lot of time to imagine a backstory or prep. It was just sort of like ‘you’re in this situation—how would you react?’”
In Hemsworth’s big Star Trek scene, we see George Kirk’s final moments as he sacrifices himself to save many, including his wife and newborn son. It’s memorable for being such a moving and solid introduction to Hemsworth’s appeal as a heroic leader—something that proved helpful for the actor, who went through months of not being able to find a job between filming on Star Trek and its release. “The film came out and then it gave me some momentum.” he said, “And I had auditioned for Thor a few times—didn’t get a call back. Then had another opportunity to have another callback. Star Trek had come out, Kenneth Branagh had seen it. I do think it helped in many, many ways. And I think J.J. Abrams and Kenneth had a conversation.”
And what about that scrapped Star Trek sequel—which would have seen him return as George Kirk—that Abrams was on board to produce? Hemsworth shared he’s game if it’s ever on the table again, “There was talk about me doing the film with Chris Pine at one point,” Hemsworth said. “The script was sort of put together and then it fell apart. If J.J. Abrams called me tomorrow and said ‘Chris Pine and I want to do it,’ I’d probably say ‘Yeah, let’s go for it!’”
You can watch the full interview below. Thor: Love and Thunder hits theaters on July 8.
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