Being ogled by Kate Winslet was part of the job description when 25-year-old Australian actor Liam Hemsworth signed up to star in The Dressmaker. On one of his first days on the set, Hemsworth was being sized up for a suit, and so was asked to strip down to his underwear, and display his athletic frame. It left Winslet and Aussie co-star Judy Davis in hysterics.
“When you are on set and you take your shirt off and you are the only person on set that is shirtless and pant-less, it’s awkward,” says the actor about being objectified. “Then you have Kate and Judy laughing hysterically and have a bunch of crew members, serious men, doing their work, and I’m standing there in my underwear, it’s pretty uncomfortable. But you have to laugh at it.”
After years of starring in the Hunger Games franchise, Hemsworth saw making the light-hearted adaptation of Rosalie Ham’s novel as the perfect way to take a break from the action scene that he and his older brother, Thor actor Chris, have found their hulking frames assigned to in Hollywood. Eldest sibling Luke was the first to get into the acting game with a stint on the long-running soap, Neighbours.
The youngest son of an English teacher and social services counsellor says that the trailblazing feats of his brothers encouraged him to pursue acting and not just feel that he was destined to work in a trade. His first job was working laying timber floors, which he did for six months before he started picking up regular acting gigs. He quickly followed Chris to America, cast to play Gale Hawthorne, Katniss’s friend and sometime lover in The Hunger Games.
“I had spent the last couple of years working in America and I lived in America for the past six years and I was looking for a project that would take me back to Australia,” he says. “This script came along and the character really reminded me of my grandfather, Keith.”
Liam’s middle name is the same as that of his paternal grandfather. He says, of the man who passed away eight years ago: “He was a very hard-working Australian, he didn’t come from much, but was one of the most charismatic and hilarious people you could meet. He was the kind of guy who was friends with everyone.”
The ethos of hard work was instilled in his father and now on the sons. The transformative effect that stardom can have on lives is displayed when Liam admits that it’s hard for him not to tear up when he recalls how one day his brother Chris called his father and told him to look at his bank account. “He [his father] called my brother Chris back and said: ‘I don’t know how to feel. Since I left home I have had debts and I thought I’d be paying them off until I died and have this weight hanging over me, and now to have them completely cleared.’ They are so happy now and able to spend more time with us, I would love to be able to do something for my parents like that.”
One way he has been giving back to his parents is by becoming an ambassador for the Australian Childhood Foundation. His parents worked supporting children who had gone through a trauma and now Liam is using his position to give the campaign some star power: “If you want to be a good person who adds to society, you have responsibility. That is something I take very seriously.”
He also says that the secret of getting through the Hunger Games franchise came from the family atmosphere fostered by the main stars. “The biggest thing to come from the franchise is the really close relationships between Jen [Lawrence] and Josh [Hutcherson]. I’m happy to have made such great friends and be part of some really important movies, I guess, aimed at young teenagers, but they have important messages.”
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He felt attached to his character Gabe because as he grew up on Phillip Island, outside of Melbourne, he also felt like an outsider. “I always feel that I’m on a different page to the people around me, I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. I’m pretty outspoken on a lot of things that I believe in, and at high school I felt like an outsider in a lot of ways, and I don’t know how to explain that. I’m always someone who preaches that you should be yourself and not conform to what society says of you: make decisions based on what you think is right, don’t make decisions based on fear.”
The actor was engaged to pop star Miley Cyrus, whom he met on the set of romantic drama The Last Song in 2009. They got engaged in 2012. However Cyrus would then go through a dramatic image-change in 2013. This included the release of the pop song “Wrecking Ball”, which was purportedly about her relationship with the actor.
A month after the song and its famous music video was released, the couple split. The actor is currently single, and rumoured to be attached to everyone he speaks to. Hordes of girls follow him around everywhere he moves at the Zurich Film Festival.
Next on the agenda is an appearance in the upcoming sequel to Independence Day, two decades after the release of the smash-hit original film, and minus Will Smith. The actor jumped at the chance of appearing in the sequel to a film, which alongside Labyrinth, with David Bowie, was one of his favourite films from his childhood.
“I was about six years old when the first film came out and I remember watching it on VHS, and I was probably too young to watch the film and not allowed, but I remember being blown away by what was happening on screen. It was an iconic film for our generation. To continue that story 20 years later with Roland Emmerich, who did the first film, flying around and shooting aliens, was great fun.”
The tall, bearded, actor is upbeat about most things in life, and from the outside there is not much for him to be down about. One big ambition is to make a film with his older brothers. “We have talked about it for a long time. I don’t know what the movie will be, but possibly we will only get one chance to do it. We are waiting for the perfect thing.”
However, he has a word of warning for any director rushing to send them scripts that the shoot might be a fun but arduous one, where each scene may need the number of takes one usually associates with Stanley Kubrick or David Fincher. “When I was 17, I did one episode of a show with my eldest brother Luke. It was a kids’ fantasy TV series, and it was the hardest day on set I’ve ever had in my life, because if he wasn’t on camera, he would be doing something that was just trying to ruin me while I was on camera. And so I think it would be so difficult to make a film with my brother.” But a hell of a lot of fun.
The Dressmaker and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 are both out now
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