'Rush's' Chris Hemsworth on Crash-Dieting, Keeping 'Thor' Interesting and Boyhood Obsessions (Q&A)

Chris Hemsworth
Lorenzo Agius

Hemsworth was shooting The Avengers in 2011 when he made his audition tape for Rush. "It came at the perfect time for me as far as the hunger and desire for what I wanted to do," says Hemsworth. "The story spoke to me on a few levels. However outrageous Hunt was, his willingness to stay true to himself and not conform to some standard or be packaged in a neat little box by the sponsors was intriguing. His message was, 'If I'm not having fun, what the hell is the point?' It's not a bad rule to live by."

The Australian actor says he understands what addiction is like after losing 30 pounds for "Rush," Ron Howard's upcoming movie about Formula One.

Chris Hemsworth -- who got his first break on the Australian soap opera Home and Away in 2004 before appearing as Capt. Kirk's father in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek and the God of Thunder in Thor and The Avengers -- is today one of Hollywood's busiest stars. Late last week, he finished shooting Michael Mann's crime drama Cyber in Malaysia before immediately racing to London for the premiere of Ron Howard's Rush, the Formula One drama starring Hemsworth opposite Daniel Bruhl.

On Sept. 8, Hemsworth and the Rush team will be at the Toronto Film Festival for the film's North American debut. After that, it's directly back to England, where Howard -- who says Hemsworth has a "Hanksonian" work ethic -- begins directing Hemsworth, once again, in Warner Bros.' 1820s whaling epic In the Heart of the Sea. Early next year, Hemsworth will reprise his role as Thor and begin production on Disney and Marvel's sequel The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Along with Rush, which begins rolling out in the U.S. on Sept. 20, Hemsworth will appear in another highly anticipated fall film: Thor: The Dark World (Nov. 8).

PHOTOS: 'Rush': Exclusive Photos of Ron Howard, Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl

You had to shed the muscle weight you gained for The Avengers and lose 30 pounds before you started shooting Rush. As Ron Howard puts it, "Thor could never fit in an F1 car." How did you do it?

It was pretty brutal. I've said it before, but my wife [Elsa Pataky] was pregnant at the time and I had more symptoms of a pregnant woman than she did. I was moody and hungry all the time. I understood addiction for the first time, to be honest. I immediately knew what it is like to be truly at the mercy of something. Literally, food was the last thing I thought about before I went to bed and the first think I thought about when I woke up. I ate very little protein and carbohydrates. And then I'd just run to sweat it off.

What is the first Ron Howard movie you remember watching?

Willow. My brothers [Liam and Luke] and I had it on VHS tape and we must have chewed through it a couple of thousands of times as kids. And Backdraft. It's amazing because I'd gone back to look at the films that Ron has directed and you're like, 'Wow, he made that film and that film,' and on and on." Ron is an incredibly intelligent filmmaker.

STORY: THR Cover: Ron Howard's Competitive Drive Behind 'Rush' (And How to Fit Thor Into a Race Car)

Are you getting tired of playing Thor?

No, as long as I get to squeeze in other things and do stuff in between that inspires me, which I'm managing to do. To be part of something that people love -- whether it's Thor on his own or Thor in The Avengers -- is a chance you get once in your career, if at all. I'm not going to complain about it, certainly, but it's a challenge each time you do it because you don't want to fall into just Thor, just being a two-dimensional character.

In Rush, you and Daniel Bruhl had to drive less powerful Formula Three cars made to look like F1 cars. Was it still scary?

No. That was a hell of a lot of fun and not even work.

You play James Hunt, who was a notorious womanizer and partyer, while Bruhl's Niki Lauda was incredibly buttoned-up. Ron Howard says in actuality, you are more like Lauda.

That's hilarious. It's probably true, especially in terms of my family life, although there were certain parts of James that I related to. However, I would have to give a quick rebuttal if someone asked me if I had slept with 2,000 women like he did.