This weekend, Chris Hemsworth stars in Blackhat, director Michael Mann’s cyberthriller about the U.S. and China teaming up to stop a deadly hacker. Hemsworth plays Nicholas Hathaway, an imprisoned hacker who gets the chance to clear his record if he stops the terrorist hacker. Before TCA started, I had a chance to attend a press conference with Hemsworth, Mann and the cast of Blackhat. I got to ask Hemsworth two questions and hear what else he had to say about Blackhat.
Nuke the Fridge: You’re part of a long running franchise where your physique is important. Did Hathaway’s physicality come from that, his equal emphasis on his body and mind?
Chris Hemsworth: The training for this, once I’m done with Thor, when I get rid of that bulk and that size because that screams that character, what I wanted to do, instead of just running on the treadmill and trying to get through the wait, mainly built in some sort of martial arts. I boxed a lot in the past and done a lot of Muay Thai. Me and Michael talked about the time that he spent in prison. You go in one person and come out another. Through those experiences, he was going to be able to physically be able to handle himself. Whether that was from the background he’d grown up in or not, but certainly his experiences in prison.
Q: What made you want to do the film?
Chris Hemsworth: Michael. Michael’s one of my favorite filmmakers. I’ve grown up watching his films so even before I’d read the script, I was pretty much diving into the thing. But then read the script and it was a subject that I certainly hadn’t been involved in on screen, something, in my life was something fairly new to me and was pretty limited in my digital cyber involvement. And it fascinated me. As Michael said, it was something that a couple years ago when we were researching the film, did exist. All the things are in the news now but it wasn’t as public. The idea that we are as vulnerable as the film talks about was something that I wanted to learn more about, and I jumped into the opportunity.
Q: What did you learn from the computer experts who advised the film?
Chris Hemsworth: By learning how to write code and understanding the brain of the computer and all that which is new to me, I asked one of the guys, ‘Knowing what you know’ because it became evident pretty quick that the majority of us knew nothing compared to what these guys knew. I said, ‘Knowing what you know, you exist behind the curtain so to speak and you see behind the curtain. Do you look at the world differently? Do you feel you have an upper hand?’ He just started laughing. He said, ‘Man, people have no idea how exposed they are and vulnerable and what’s possible.’ That’s the power now is the brain. It’s not just in the criminal world but anywhere. They’re the superheroes. That highly intelligent alien type advancement that these guys seem to have within themselves was something that impressed me every day.
Nuke the Fridge: How did you come to the voice for Nick Hathaway?
Chris Hemsworth: The voice, we spent a number of days in Chicago and there were endless conversations between Michael and I, working with dialect coaches. It became more an attitude I think than anything else. There’s the structural sounds and phonetics and what have you, but the way this guy spoke and the rhythm to his speak we picked up things from friends of Michael’s in Chicago. Also we went to certain prisons and spoke with people [and learned] how guys in prison speak. There’s a rhythm and a bounce. I had dialect coaches but Michael was kind of my guide. He’s from the place and he knew what he was after.