Chris Hemsworth, Jason Momoa & Rose Huntington-Whiteley at CinemaCon
Filmmakers Notebook had the pleasure of attending a Q&A the last night of CinemaCon with this summer’s hottest movie superheroes – the new Thor Chris Hemsworth, Rose Huntington-Whiteley from Transformers and Jason Momoa, who will soon be seen playing Conan the Barbarian.
Australian born Chris Hemsworth was thrilled that the premiere of “Thor” was held in Sydney on April 17th and was looking forward to seeing family and friends during the festivities, especially since because of his shooting schedule and time spent promoting the film this was his first trip back home in quite a while.
Perhaps best remembered in ”Star Trek” playing the father of James T. Kirk, Chris spoke about the challenges of playing Thor when he spoke with us at CinemaCon. “It was a dream for me to get to be a superhero,” he related. “I auditioned very early in the process, maybe 6-7 months before we started shooting,” he continued disclosing that he didn’t land the part on his first try. “They had a selection of guys that didn’t work out and I got a second chance. I was asked to send a tape in,” he said, which he did filming scenes with the help of his mother in the kitchen of a small hotel they were staying at.
The footage earned him a second chance. “It was surreal. I spent 4-5 months reading comic books,” Chris related. “I didn’t really read comic books growing up. I knew about the characters because they had such a wide circulation. They had been around for about 50 years or something, but I wasn’t really an avid reader. Marvel is such a machine in itself,” he shared.
“Thor” was shot during the summer of 2010. After the press tour for it Hemsworth is scheduled to start shooting “The Avengers” sometime in May. Depending upon the success of those two films more sequels for Thor may be in the works. One of the highlights of working on the project for Chris was working with Director Kenneth Branagh. “He’s incredible,” the actor said adding, “He’s one of the best directors I’ve worked with.” Although everyone knows Kenneth for his Shakespearean background some may not be aware of his interest in this type of genre, which Chris found to be a great strength stating, “He’s a fan of these types of films and storytelling in general.” Hemsworth believes audiences will enjoy the balance of story and action in the film. “It’s a good combination. It certainly is a big special effects spectacle you’d expect from Marvel,” he said concluding, “There’s a good sense of heart and character.”
Model Rose Huntington-Whiteley got her big acting break when she was cast by Michael Bay in the 3rd Transformers installment “Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon”, which is scheduled for release on July 1st. Asked about making the transition from modeling, Rose said, “I think that modeling and acting kind of go hand in hand in many ways and they also are completely different.” In both professions she believes you have to be aware of your body, however, the size of the Transformers set was about 50 times the amount of space she was used to working in on a modeling shoot. “That was a little daunting to start with. There’s a lot more people to say hello to in the morning,” she said with a smile.
One aspect of making the film Rose did enjoy was having the opportunity to travel. “Transformers” shot on location in Chicago, Detroit, Florida, DC and Milwaukee, which were places she never had the chance to visit when she was modeling. She also liked having a physical role. “I got to do a lot of action, which was my favorite part of the whole experience,” she admitted. Being able to lose herself in the sets and the explosions were fun and she also got to do her share of stunt work. “I like to get my hands dirty and try everything,” she said. “Things happen so fast,” she continued, explaining how she was put in a harness going headfirst on a skateboard with gunfire going off all around her. “I love that. I’m a bit of a tomboy. I like doing the action stuff,” she insisted.
It was obvious that Rose is appreciative of the chance to show what she can do that has been given to her by Bay and Paramount although she admitted that making her first movie was nerve-wracking and intense. “The only thing I can do is take it a day at a time. Just try to stay in the now. Stay like that or else you just lose it,” she concluded.
Jason Momoa was equally excited about his new film “Conan The Barbarian”, which is scheduled for release in August. “It’s my first big movie. I’m having the greatest time,” he said enthusiastically. “It was an amazing experience. I’ve been in this business for about 12 years. I’ve never experienced anything like this. It’s a lead role. The fights and the training alone. I’ve never done that in my own personal life. The mentality to be Conan. The physicality. It was amazing. The first time I’ve had to push myself that hard,” he continued.
Born in Honolulu, Momoa feels his heritage made him a good choice for the part. “I’m a warrior, a born warrior and that’s what I had to offer to the role. There was also the rigorous training the part required. “Four weeks out from having the role I pretty much put on 20 pounds, which means about 7 hours of training every day. I had a trainer for the whole thing. He had a program designed. He put me through the ringer,” Jason acknowledged. “It was all natural. I know it doesn’t sound delicious, but I ate boiled chicken every two hours, which is not really that good. It’s like boiled cardboard,” he described. He worked out non stop putting in 2-3 hours a day training with a sword and developing fighting combat skills. “It’s really like keeping injury at bay, that’s what it is cause I tried to do as many stunts as I could. I’m a physical guy. I play hockey, go rock climbing,” he went on adding that he also had to be wary of injury because he was now part of a big production. “People’s jobs are on the line,” he concluded.
Then, of course, there’s the comparisons already being made to the original Conan film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, yet Momoa isn’t intimidated. “You know what, first off I’ve never played a role that’s already been played before and not to disrespect anyone, but when “Conan” came out I was 3 years old. I didn’t really get to see the first film. So, to build a character I wanted to read. I wanted to research,” he explained. “I look forward to watching the original. I haven’t actually seen it. I haven’t even seen mine yet,” he added with a big grin. In addition to being seen in “Conan the Barbarian”, Momoa is also appearing in HBO’s “Game of Thrones”, which has already been renewed for a second season following the airing of the first episode.