Chris Hemsworth is Hollywood’s go-to man’s men — the hulk you call when you need someone to play "Thor," or in comedies like “Vacation” and the forthcoming “Ghostbusters” reboot, in which he makes fun of his hyper-masculinity.
With “In the Heart of the Sea,” he’s called on to be even more macho than usual. Directed by Ron Howard it tells the true story of the 1820 sinking of American whaling ship The Essex, which inspired Herman Melville to write “Moby-Dick.” He plays the first mate, who is among the survivors who spent months in lifeboats, and had to turn to cannibalism to survive.
This was shot for two months in a massive swimming pool tank and another two months actually out at sea, off the Canary Islands. You don’t get seasick, do you?
Seventy percent of the crew were throwing up that first week — like, solidly. I was lucky. I had taken all the seasick tablets we were told to take. But having been on the water most of my life — surfing, little bits of fishing — that probably prepared me for it. I just kept my eyes on the horizon, as they say, because I’ve been seasick before and it’s the worst thing in the world.
How about your balance? A ship far out at sea isn’t the most stable place.
As good as I thought my balance was, you watch people who do it every day, just Peter Pan their way about the place. They look like they’re attached to wires, the way they leap and bound across things and then never stumble or wobble. There was a lot of faking going on the first few weeks — trying to look cool and steady when you’ve got the strongest grip on one part of the ship to keep you looking solid.
This seems like it was your most physically demanding role yet. You lost a lot of weight for the part.
It was most real experience I’ve had shooting. There wasn’t a lot of the off-switch. You were at sea all day or you were on the whale boats all day. You’re just there. You get home and you’re still not eating. Then there was dealing with the mood swings and chemical imbalance due to your low-calorie diet. You’re in the sun, you’re salty, you’re wet. On one hand it was incredibly grueling. At the same time it added so much depth to all of our performances, because we were living and breathing that experience as much as possible.