It’s very hard to be an actor. I’m not even talking about the years training and suppressing the countless rejections, or, once you have finally landed a role, learning the lines and then providing a worthwhile performance.
Because even if you do hit the top of the acting profession and suddenly have all eyes thrust upon you that’s when you have to become a cinematic clairvoyant. Rather than just being grateful for the parts that you have been cast in your success grants you the opportunity to pick and choose studio projects that can cost dozens or even hundreds of millions of dollars.
It’s a tricky task, though. Just look at Michael Fassbender. After the likes of “Jane Eyre,” “Shame,” “X-Men: First Class,” “Prometheus” and “12 Years A Slave” between 2011 and 2013 he was regarded as one of the hottest commodities in cinema. But in recent years the underwhelming “Steve Jobs,” “X-Men: Apocalypse,” “Alien: Covenant,” and the catastrophic “Assassin’s Creed” and “The Snowman” have since severely dampened this reputation.
Don’t get me wrong, Fassbender is still an incredible talent, as “Frank,” “Slow West,” and his performances in the aforementioned, “Steve Jobs” and “Alien: Covenant” especially, show. But it just highlights how hard it is to select a project that is either critically or financially successful, let alone both.
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Especially in the modern era, where intellectual properties and superhero characters, rather than the personalities of actors, have dominated the box office. There are anomalies, as any Leonardo DiCaprio and most Mark Wahlberg, Tom Cruise, Vin Diesel, and Dwayne Johnson movies put bums on seats. But even the latter foursome have had to rely on the comfort of franchises to stay relevant.
Which brings us to Chris Hemsworth. Since being launched into the pop culture stratosphere with his titular role in 2011s “Thor,” a part the 34-year-old has reprised five more times in the six years since, Hemsworth has, on the face of it, seemingly made wise choices with his other movie picks.
“The Cabin In The Woods” showed off his comedy chops, and was written by Josh Whedon and directed by Drew Goddard, “Snow White And The Huntsman” was the first in a blockbuster franchise that maintained his presence, while “Rush” and “In The Heart Of The Sea” and “Blackhat” saw him work alongside Ron Howard and Michael Mann, two of the most respected directors in cinema.
But while his Marvel career has gone from strength to strength Hemsworth has repeatedly underwhelmed away from Mjolnir. “Blackhat” and “In The Heart Of The Sea” both flopped, “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” brought the franchise to an end after just two films, while “12 Strong” has just opened to middling reviews and will quickly be forgotten about.
Those four films especially seem to prove that Hemsworth doesn’t have the star power or presence to either draw an audience or enough praise to be noteworthy. Instead, despite being their leading actor, he somehow just seems to fade into the background on them.
That’s not to say that Hemsworth doesn’t have the skills or talent to flourish once his Marvel career comes to an end, something that is seemingly on the horizon as he recently admitted that after the release of this summer's “Avengers: Infinity War” and 2019’s “Avengers 4” he is out of contract with the studio.
It’s widely acknowledged that Hemsworth looked most comfortable and commanding on screen in “Thor: Ragnarok,” as director Taika Waititi took a zany approach to the Nordic God that, even though I personally found it be to vastly overrated, clearly struck a chord with audiences.
This wasn’t the first time that Hemsworth as a loveable goofball has worked. The Australian was the best thing in “Vacation” and “Ghostbusters” in similar parts, while his most stirring work, for me, was still in the opening salvo of 2009’s “Star Trek” as Captain George Kirk, where he managed to bring warmth, emotion, vulnerability, humor, and heroism in just a 5-minute scene.
Considering my thoughts on “Thor: Ragnarok,” I’m yet to be convinced that Hemsworth can combine these two aspects in one role, something that his counterpart Mel Gibson was so ferociously good at doing, especially in the "Lethal Weapon" franchise.
But I’m encouraged that he can do so. Since Hemsworth’s recent struggles have proven that being a straight-forward leading man isn’t quite in his locker, it is time for him to change tactics and, in the wake of the inevitable success of the upcoming “Avengers” films, find the right project that can really get the best of his chops.
Because, after that point, he will be all out of Hollywood lives.