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Inside Film

Chris Hemsworth wouldn’t be the first A-lister to embrace early retirement

As rumours swirl that the Thor star will be reducing his workload after being told he has a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s, Geoffrey Macnab salutes the long history of stars who downed tools relatively early

Friday 07 April 2023 18:32 BST
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Chris Hemsworth, who is reported to be planning to step back from acting in the coming years
Chris Hemsworth, who is reported to be planning to step back from acting in the coming years (Shutterstock)

It’s as if Thor is throwing away his hammer. Avengers star Chris Hemsworth’s apparent decision to step away from Hollywood acting roles will surely have startled fans. His persona on screen is all about youth, vitality and indestructibility. He’s a Marvel superhero, after all. Even when not on Avengers duty, he plays dashing heroes, for example the womanising, champagne-quaffing Formula One driver James Hunt in Rush (2013) or the rugged whaler in period nautical saga In the Heart of the Sea (2015).

However, as Hemsworth recently told Vanity Fair, his genetic make-up puts him at high risk of Alzheimer’s disease in later life, and he is looking to cut down on work commitments. He still has various projects on the boil, including another Avengers sequel and a Hulk Hogan biopic, but celebrity gossip sites are already feverishly speculating that the 39-year-old’s blockbuster-making days are numbered.

Hemsworth is at the peak of his career, and now he may walk away. If he does indeed retire, the Australian, who first made his name in soap opera Home and Away, will be following in a long tradition of stars going out at the top. From Greta Garbo in the early 1940s to Daniel Day-Lewis six years ago after Phantom Thread (2017), many other equally prominent movie actors have turned their backs on the screen. There have also been many different motivations for stars to end their stints in front of the camera. Sometimes it’s a fear of ageing on screen, or boredom, or family commitments, or illness, or a renewed desire for privacy. Sometimes they’re driven out because producers will no longer hire them and fans turn against them. Sometimes, as in the case of Grace Kelly, they marry into European royalty and go to live in Monaco.

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