Making of Limitless with Chris Hemsworth video interview
Ask anyone involved with National Geographic’s Disney+ non-fiction series “Limitless With Chris Hemsworth” what makes the show stand out, and they’re likely to say the same thing: Chris Hemsworth himself. The movie star, best known for his portrayal of Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, brings an honesty and humanity to the series that allows its deeper lessons about health and aging to land with greater impact.
“Chris is kind of good at this because we all know he’s Thor, but he’s also your everyday guy. And when you meet him, he’s very casual, very chill. He’s a really lovely person to be around,” says series producer Emma Thompson says Gold Derby in an exclusive video interview. “But he’s also genuinely interested in exercise and nutrition and what he does with his body. And he really interrogated the science on this show, which really helped us because he wanted to be involved in that process. So I feel like, yeah, everybody want to see Chris, but to listen to Chris ask why he does certain things and change what he does [in his own life] was very, very interesting.”
The six-episode series, which debuted in November, was created by Darren Aronofsky and produced by Aronofsky’s company Protozoa as well Jane Rootis Nutopia. Each episode focuses on Hemsworth exploring “how to fight aging and discover the full potential of the human body and ways we can all extend health and happiness into old age.” The series mixes incredible physical challenges, such as Hemsworth swimming 800 feet in near-freezing temperatures in an Arctic fjord, with scientific insight.
“Chris, he’s super accommodating,” director of photography Steve Lidgerwood says. “He doesn’t want to be beaten, that’s for sure….I think any mortal man would probably be beaten, but he really pushed himself to the limit.”
All episodes of the show offer a window into Hemsworth’s reality—including a test that knew an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease – but perhaps none hit both the show’s star and the team as hard as the finale “Acceptance”. In that episode, Hemsworth gets to experience what his life will look like in old age with the help of a special suit that mimics aging – and then goes through an emotional journey to confront his own mortality. The standout episode, a blend of reality and performance, was directed by Tom Barbor-Might.
“It really felt like you were just honoring this vision of what this story was,” the episode’s editor, Stephen Chan says. “It was quite moving even when you cut it. There were certain scenes where I still wanted to cry. It would be months and months of doing it and it would still get me at the same point.”
The episode runs 75 minutes, and Chan says he was pleased Barbor-Might pushed to keep the length. “Tom had so much boldness in his approach,” says Chan. That sentiment was echoed by the composer Keefus Ciancia also. “Tom was also very, very specific on that one with me. I would say that, of all the episodes, he really had a big master plan for it,” says the composer.
Altogether, “Limitless With Chris Hemsworth” took years to make, and Thompson, Ciancia, Chan and Lidgerwood all say working on the show fundamentally changed them. “I would have loved to have seen this before I toured with all my punk rock bands and maybe I would have slowed down a little bit out there,” Ciancia says.
“I would say I got into ‘Limitless’ and was interested in the science behind it because I’m naturally inclined to really take care of what I eat and focus on nutrition and going to the gym,” says Thompson. “But what I take away is that this show is about changing small parts of every day to make your life better. And it doesn’t have to be everything, or everyone has to do the same thing. But the show just has a way of enlightening people to to understand that you can change a small part of your life and it can have a lasting effect on you.”
“Limitless With Chris Hemsworth” is now streaming on Disney+.
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