Behind the Scenes of THOR with Chris Hemsworth, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Kenneth Branagh

By Tom Snyder, Editor

MOVIEGUIDE® attended two press conferences with some of the cast and crew of THOR, including stars Chris Hemsworth and Sir Anthony Hopkins and Director Kenneth Branagh.

Chris Hemsworth (Thor)

Hemsworth, who plays the title role, was asked who his own heroes are.

“Growing up, my parents were my heroes,” he said, “and my dad, in the way they conducted their lives. My dad works in child protection. He’s spent many, many years in that line of work. As kids, our experiences shape our opinions on ourselves and the world around us. That’s who we become as adults, because of that experience.”

Chris said he’s also inspired by larger-than-life heroes, “who put themselves on the line and sacrifice their own safety for the greater good and for others.”

“Anyone in any sort of profession who, their concern is the welfare of other people instead of [themselves], I think that is inspiring and important.”

Superman was the first larger-than-life hero he responded to when he was young.

“I would run around the house pretending to be him at some stage when I was a kid. I also had a Robin costume, Batman’s sidekick.”

Sir Anthony Hopkins (Odin)

Hopkins said he decided to do the movie because Kenneth Branagh was directing it. He said he was surprised to find that doing the movie was his most enjoyable experience in years.

“If they gave me enough money to read the phone book, I’d do it,” Hopkins said. “I live in a total state of non-expectation, and I don’t expect things. I keep my expectations very low about everything, especially the last few years.

“I’ve always been a fan of Ken’s, actually,” he added. “But, it turned out that it was the most enjoyable film I’ve been involved in for a long time, principally because of the cast here, and Chris and Tom and everyone. And Ken. He’s one of the best directors I’ve worked with.”

Hopkins admitted, “I think I’d gone through a patch where I was getting very indifferent to everything, you know, and I could care less about anything. And then, to work with Ken, he just pushed the right buttons to get me to give of my best. I really value that in him, because I’d gotten lazy. But Ken challenges you all the time, in a very nice, gentlemanly, charming way. I like the way he says, “My learned, esteemed colleague, I would like you to stand here.”

We asked Sir Anthony if the reports about the Shakespearean quality of the story in THOR are making too much out what, essentially, is a comic book story?

“I don’t think so,” he replied.

He said, however, that his job is not to analyze everything to death but to rely on the director and do what he wants.

“You just do what he tells you,” Hopkins said. “And, I know that sounds pretty wimpy to do that, but –why not? He knows what he wants. A good director knows what he wants, and what it’s gonna look like.”

He doesn’t like to analyze acting anyway, he said.

“You just get up and do it,” he noted. “Get up and do the damned thing, instead of talking about it. Ken is like that; he just says, ‘Do it.’ And I like that.”

Hopkins concluded, “It was so unexpected to be in a movie like this. And I like the unexpected. Living in a state of total non-expectation, it’s just a surprise what happens to you, you know – all kinds of things come your way. It’s when you have expectations, that’s when it’s always disappointing. So, to be in this was just a bonus. It was the gravy train, you know, for me, because I’ve been around a long, long time now. And so, whatever comes along, I’m very happy to do it, if it’s a good script and a good director and good actors. I’m just very fortunate to mosey along and do what I do. But I mustn’t get too lazy. I need another Ken Branagh. Because it’s very hard to find a director of that kind of power, you know. And gentleness. He’s a gentleman. And, that’s it.”

Director Kenneth Branagh

Branagh said the scale of making a movie like THOR was the biggest challenge.

“It was very, very challenging, but that was part of what was attractive,” he said. “People sometimes ask me, ‘Well, how did you do it?’ And I say, “Have you seen the credits at the end? There’s seven minutes of ‘em! You see all of those names? That’s how I did it.”

The first and most important thing he had to do for the project was to find the actor who’s going to play Thor. “Find Thor, Find Thor” kept echoing in his mind and the discussion during the project’s beginning.

Branagh was asked about the Shakespearean quality of the interaction between Thor, his brother Loki, and their father, Odin, who’s the king.

“We’ve just seen about two billion people watch a royal family at work, you know?” Branagh noted. “We’re interested in what goes on in the corridors of power, whether it’s the White House or whether it’s Buckingham Palace or. . . Shakespeare was interested in the lives of the medieval royal families, but he also raided theRoman myths and the Greek myths for the same purpose. Stan Lee [the co-creator of the original THOR comic book] went to the myths that Shakespeare hadn’t used. All of them. . . contain briefly told, very condensed stories that I think are very universal in their application.”

Branagh said it was important to keep the stakes in the story high, both for the characters and for the worlds around them.

Thus, in Shakespeare, it’s Europe, England or the ancient world. In THOR, it’s the whole universe.

“If Thor throws a fit and is yelling at his father and is banished,” he said, “the world becomes unstable. When that family has problems, everybody else is affected.”