Hemsworth set for 'Thor' and 'Dawn'

Actor takes leading roles in upcoming features

Chris Hemsworth is about to win the Hollywood lottery, booking starring roles in two major motion pictures.

Hemsworth will be wielding Mjolnir's hammer as the title character in Marvel Studios' Norse god epic "Thor" and will also play the lead in MGM's "Red Dawn," stepping into the role originated by Patrick Swayze in the 1984 original. In the new version, China and Russia will be the invaders of the United States.

"Thor" and "Dawn" were among the big movies undergoing wide casting searches and Hemsworth, an Australian who made his name with his country's TV show "Home and Away" had been making the rounds. His big American step came in late 2007, when he was cast by J.J. Abrams in the small but pivotal role as Captain Kirk's father in the new "Star Trek" movie.

Ironically, one of the actors Hemsworth was up against for "Thor" was his younger brother Liam. Liam Hemsworth just booked the male lead role opposite Miley Cyrus in Disney's "The Last Song." Other actors up for "Thor" included Charlie Hunnam and Brit Tom Hiddleston.

MGM was an early fan of Hemsworth's, casting him in the Joss Whedon-produced horror film "Cabin in the Woods.

Deals for both "Thor" and "Dawn," first reported in Deadline Hollywood Daily, are not quite squared away; the "Thor" deal is contingent on the latter film's shooting scheduling. It's due to film in August. "Thor," to be directed by Kenneth Brannagh, is FX-intensive and requires a longer pre-production period. It is scheduled for a May 2011 release.

"Dawn," helmed by stunt coordinator and cinematographer-turned-director Dan Bradley and produced by Contrafilm, has a September 2010 release date.