5 Surprises About ‘Thor’

Simon Emmett

The much anticipated flick starring Chris Hemsworth hits the big screen Friday.

Marvel’s much anticipated Thor hits the big screen Friday, and here are five things you might not know:

1. Chris Hemsworth’s brother almost beat him for the role.
The Australian-born actor, 27, wasn't even on the director's original shortlist -- his younger brother Liam Hemsworth was. After Liam and three others did a  screen test, director Kenneth Branagh went back to the drawing board and decided to re-evaluate some previous contenders, like Chris. A video the actor made with his mother also played helped. "I was on the 17th floor of a hotel in Vancouver with my mom reading the lines to me," Chris tells THR. "And something great must have happened. It got me back in the room." Ultimately, Chris impressed not just Branagh but also Marvel Studios. Recalls Branagh, "We pretty much knew as we were shooting the test that he was the guy. It seemed, across these meetings, he had grown into it.”

2. Chris Hemsworth bulked up too much that he couldn’t fit into his costume.
After landing the role, he told the Los Angeles Times he studied the comic books and noticed the character was “500 pounds or something and looks like Schwarzenegger. And I thought, 'OK, I’m not gonna get to that.’ But I have to get bigger.” Just before shooting the movie, he conducted a final camera test and went numb. “I started getting pins and needles and you’d touch the skin and the blood wouldn’t return to that area so quick. And I thought, ‘OK, it doesn’t fit,’” he tells the Times. The actor’s costume ended up getting altered, and director Branagh instructed him to “pull back” on the intense workouts, he said.

3. Bad weather hindered shooting.
Shooting got under way in January 2010 on Marvel’s soundstages at the Raleigh Studios in Manhattan Beach, then two months later it moved to Santa Fe, N.M., where the earthbound part of the movie is set. “We had a morning that was incredibly beautiful when Chris and I fall asleep together on the roof of a lab,” Natalie Portman (who plays an astrophysicist who helps Thor) tells THR. “And it was so windy  that it was hard for us to stay in place. But other than that, it went really well.” After some 30 days on location, the crew returned to California for two weeks of greenscreen work. Portman says this was the most difficult part, imagining  “a destroyer coming at you or looking over a canyon where Thor is fighting.”

4. The film’s director is best known for Shakespeare films.
Kenneth Branagh earned kudos for his most prominent pictures, including 1996's Hamlet and 1993's Much Ado About Nothing. Thor is considered to be both his Hollywood comeback as director and, in many ways, his make-or-break moment.  "I've enjoyed it enormously," he tells THR of the experience behind filming summer’s first blockbuster, "and the commercial gods will have to decide whether it's a success." He adds that he’s "surprised” he did Thor, but yet “it has a logic I can't fully articulate."

5.  Iron Man postponed the film’s release.
Following the success of Iron Man, Marvel decided to postpone Thor's release, creating a gap of six months before Branagh would be able to shoot the film. "Initially, Iron Man 2 and Thor were to be released in summer 2010 and Captain America and The Avengers in summer 2011," Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige tells THR. "But when the first Iron Man was so big, we had the luxury of knowing that the sequel could sustain us in 2010."