The Fascinating Tale of the Hemsworth Brothers: How Chris, Liam and Luke Came to Take Over Hollywood

his weekend audiences will flock to movie theaters, don their 3D glasses and settle in for two hours of good old-fashioned Thor: Ragnarok fun.

In the third installments of Marvel’s most otherworldly franchise (this flick follows the original Thor and 2013’s The Dark World), which is in theaters today, things are decidedly more dramatic for everyone’s favorite Hammer-wielding superhero. To start, he doesn’t have the hammer this time around—Thor is imprisoned across the universe and his weapon (and the source of his power) has been confiscated.

His brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has taken over his home planet and the entire civilization has been threatened. He also has to fight in a deadly gladiator competition against Hulk, which is never an easy time.

As audiences watch, they will laugh, because Thor: Ragnarok is easily Marvel’s funniest movie to date. They’ll gasp, mostly at the shock of seeing Thor without his signature flowing locks (brace thyselves for that big reveal). But mostly, they’ll be caught in the big screen spell of one Chris Hemsworth.

The actor is not only the biggest thing attracting viewers to the theaters this weekend, he’s one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood right now. His slate of superhero flicks, combined with his uncanny ability to make a joke out of himself (during roles like Ghostbusters and Vacation) ensures that he’s constantly in front of the cameras. But it’s also worth noting that perhaps the most fascinating thing about him—besides his muscles—is his place among the cutest group of brothers to hit Tinseltown in years.

The Brothers Hemsworth are a full-on show business anomaly. For starters, that two people could be both so different-looking and so attractive at the same time—and even the oldest sibling Luke, who hasn’t pursued the spotlight quite as fervently as the others, is incredibly attractive. Then there’s the fact that they are even actors at all. To be athletic, verging on bro-y surfer types is far less common these days than the stars who grow up as true thespians who are more nerdy than anything else.

But once you look deep into their background, it’s easy to see that nothing about this family is usual.

They were raised down under (that’s Australia for anyone really not keeping up), back and forth between the trendy and cosmopolitan Melbourne and the very nature heavy Outback territory, and then eventually moving to Phillip Island, which they’ve all described in interviews as, basically, farmland dotted with not much more than cows.

Their parents could not have been further removed from the industry—their dad was a counselor and their mom was a teacher. (In fact, her subject matter occasionally included sexual education—most exceptionally the year that she had Liam as a student. If that doesn’t prepare him for the rigors and embarrassments of show business, nothing will). The early part of their childhood was your stereotypical Australian fodder: Surfing, working on a cattle ranch and putting shrimp on the barbie. In the early 2000s, the acting bug started to set in.

Oldest Luke was the first to get bit, nabbing a spot on the Australian soap opera Neighbours, about a group of people living in a Melbourne suburb. He appeared for several seasons before becoming fed up with that career track and turning, oddly enough, to the flooring business. But it was just long enough to entice his younger siblings; Chris had a guest role on the show and in 2004 he decided to audition for Home and Away, a different Aussie soap. The man we now know as Thor was cast as the character Kim Hyde, the son of the principal of the local high school, and he spent a whopping 171 episodes in that role.

The gig, while certainly not as lucrative as the kind of work he does now, put Chris on the map in his home country. His character became a bit of a household name and even nabbed him a chance to compete on Dancing With the Stars Australia. In 2009 he appeared in the opening scenes of the Star Trek movie and the rest, as they say, is history.

The path forged by Luke and Chris laid the groundwork for Liam to find his way to the spotlight. He acted in school plays in high school, but spent a brief hiatus working for Luke’s flooring business before deciding to take the show biz leap. One of his first real roles was a guest spot on Home and Away, the soap that built Chris’ fame, before getting a full time gig as a recurring character on Neighbours, where Luke once starred. To say that Australia had a penchant for the Hemsworth brothers would be an understatement.

In March of 2010 Liam decided to follow Chris to Hollywood (the real Hollywood, that is) and immediately began going out on auditions. It’s now been fully cemented into Hemsworth family lore that both brothers were up for the part of Thor back in 2010, before the role ultimately went to Chris. That moment could easily have spiraled into a moment of extreme brotherly jealousy, but fate would have it that the starring role in The Last Song was soon to go to Liam. That’s where he would meet one Miley Cyrus, so we doubt he’s too torn up about losing Thor.

Nowadays all three Hemsworths are fully entrenched in the Hollywood scene. Chris is going to be appearing in the next installment of Star Trek, as well as a 12 Strong, a story about a group of soldiers in the Afghanistan war that also happens to feature his wife and occasional actress Elsa Pataky. (And it’s safe to assume that he’ll be collecting checks for his Marvel contract for years on end.)

Liam has a few mysterious projects on his plate, including a part opposite the ravishing Priyanka Chopra. And even Luke has thrown his hand back in the acting ring, appearing on Westworld and boasting a cameo in Thor: Ragnarok.

Their personal lives are thriving as well: Chris is enjoying living nearly full-time in Australia with his three children, Luke is busy with four kids, and Liam’s schedule is overloaded with keeping the press guessing about whether or not he finally married Miley Cyrus. And even though their looks and talents would seemingly put them in competition for all sorts of roles, they’ve found a perfect harmony of support. While each Hemsworth brother is fascinating (and gorgeous) on their own, the whole is greater than the sum of their parts.

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