There are few modern actors more endearing or beautiful than Chris Hemsworth. The Australian has only been in Hollywood for a little over a decade, but he’s already proven himself to be one of the great action stars of the century, thanks to his combination of Marvel movies and outside projects.
Not every Hemsworth project works, but over the course of his career, he’s delivered a number of fascinating performances, some of which play against his natural likability. Hemsworth may seem like a lovable lug, but he’s also a more compelling actor than he may initially appear to be.
10. Thor: The Dark World
It’s basically the opposite of the tone that Thor: Ragnarok would go on to establish, and there are plenty of people who think it’s one of the worst movies in the MCU, but Thor: The Dark World is also where Chris Hemsworth really starts to find his groove as the character. The first Thor sees him trying a little too hard, but The Dark World is a little more easy-going, and it leans into the natural charm that Hemsworth seems to be able to turn on at will.
It’s not the most critically beloved movie of Michael Mann’s career, but Blackhat certainly does have its defenders. Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker who is released from prison in order to track down another hacker who is hacking into nuclear power plants. The movie doesn’t always cohere, but Hemsworth is pretty consistently compelling in spite of an accent that is less than convincing. Hemsworth gave himself over to a major director here, and while not everything about the movie works, we have to admire his willingness to do something different.
8. Star Trek
In one of his first movie roles, Hemsworth gets to play the father to Captain James Kirk in a pretty terrific prologue to the main action of the movie. It’s not a central role, but Hemsworth is so compelling in the part that it feels only natural he was eventually cast as Thor. He’s charismatic, and not just because he’s so obviously good-looking. In Star Trek, Hemsworth feels like a star on the verge of breaking out, and the death of his character provides much of the explanation for why Chris Pine’s Kirk behaves the way that he does.
7. Bad Times at the El Royale
Hemsworth is just one member of an ensemble in Bad Times at the El Royale, but he acquits himself well playing a dangerous cult leader who doesn’t show up until well into the movie. As an actor, Hemsworth has always known when he can play against type, and he’s tremendous as a cult leader who uses his good looks and charisma to ensure that he always has an audience. Hemsworth plays the menace of this role well, and you can see how it might be easy to fall under his spell.
6. The Avengers
It’s hard to argue that Hemsworth is the star of The Avengers, but just like everyone else in the ensemble cast, the fact that his version of Thor works in the context of the rest of the ensemble is both thrilling and surprising. His dynamic with Hiddleston, which is so crucial to the first movie, is also hugely important here, and he gets a few of the movie’s best lines and moments. Hemsworth is not blowing you away in The Avengers, but he holds his own, and proves that Thor is going to be around for the long haul.
Hemsworth has spent less time outside the MCU in recent years, and Rush remains his biggest swing to date. The movie chronicles the intense rivalry between James Hunt and Nicki Lauda on the 1970s Formula 1 circuit. In a movie about dangerous obsession, Hemsworth plays Hunt, playboy with nothing to lose. He’s not precise or tactical, but his devil-may-care energy propels him to victory. As Hunt, Hemsworth proved that he could excel in a purely dramatic role, as long as he was well-cast.
4. The Cabin in the Woods
Chris Hemsworth has always worked with the right people, and The Cabin in the Woods proves that was true from the earliest part of his career. Hemsworth plays the dumb jock here, a stereotype that he leans into to great effect. What works best about this movie, though, is the way that each of the actors dig below the stereotypes that they start as. Hemsworth is a jock, sure, but he’s also a good guy willing to take a risk to save his friends. It’s not his fault that his death scene is so hilarious.
3. Ghostbusters: Answer the Call
Perhaps a surprising entry, but also the role that proved definitively that Chris Hemsworth was funnier than directors were allowing him to be. Playing the receptionist for the all-female version of the Ghostbusters, Hemsworth seems like a clear mark for the villain role. Instead, he’s just a goof, and that’s more than enough. Chris Hemsworth came off of playing Thor to take a role as a silly, jocky receptionist. If you didn’t love him already, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call surely won you over.
2. Avengers: Infinity War
In a movie that features 40 huge actors, Hemsworth is the one who goes on the biggest journey. The moment when Thor arrives in Wakanda is one of the most triumphant in the history of Marvel, but what’s remarkable in Infinity War is how sad he is. Hemsworth plays Thor, a man on the brink of totally losing it who finds a purpose in taking down Thanos. When he fails to do that, there’s nothing left for him. In Infinity War, Hemsworth still gets to be fun, though, even if it is tinged with sadness.
1. Thor: Ragnarok
Thor has defined Hemsworth’s career, and Thor: Ragnarok is the movie where he finally becomes the version of the character he always should have been. Rocking a shorter hair cut, an eyepatch, and a surplus of charisma, Hemsworth is consistently hysterical in a movie where everyone gets to have jokes. The movie itself may not be perfect, but it deserves all the credit in the world for proving that Hemsworth’s Thor was just as iconic as Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, and it deserves its spot on the top of our list.