Are You Hungry Enough?
LIAMHEMSWORTH WENT LEAN FOR THE HUNGER GAMES. HERE’S HOW HE GOT JACKED AGAIN FOR AN ALL-STAR ACTION MOVIE
IS LIAM HEMSWORTH BORING? LET US EXAMINE
the facts. One: The Australian actor and Hunger Games costar is handsomely appealing in the
ambitions of a James Franco nor the indie grit of a Michael Pitt. Two: He rose to celebrity the
way a lot of uninteresting actors do—through forgettable roles in soap operas. Three: He’s
planning to marry Miley Cyrus. All of which is to say that when I fly to Los Angeles to hang
out with Liam Hemsworth, I’m expecting to meet the human equivalent of a tortilla chip:
pleasant enough, but needing salsa.
He’s arrived 10 minutes early for lunch at the Chateau Marmont, where we’ve scheduled
to meet on a gauzy Los Angeles day. We shake hands and the 6'3" actor settles himself unconsciously into a room-facing seat, potential privacy invasions be damned. He’s wearing a
varicolored sweater with a shawl collar—the cashmere version of Jeff Spicoli’s drug rug—
and his hair is in a state best described as subdued bed head.
Also, (and this seems like a strange thing to mention, but it’s true), his most prominent trait is a pinkish brown skin tone that seems utterly foreign in L.A., for the sole reason that it’s a natural tan, not sprayed on or salon acquired. A surfer’s tan. “I surfed competitively from age 13 to 18,” Hemsworth tells me in a California-mellowed Aussie accent.
“E very day, before and after school. I wanted to surf for the rest of my life. It’s what all my
friends did—I even had it as a subject in school for a number of years.”
Wait. Do they teach surfing in Australia?
You mean, as a class?
“Yeah! They teach you all parts of the surfing industry. How to judge surf heats, that sort of thing. Now I try to go to Indonesia whenever I have enough time.”
Hemsworth orders french fries.
Surfing seems like one of those sports, I suggest, that includes frequent confrontations with death. Drowning, for instance. Or sharks. “Well, yeah,” he laughs. “The fear of dying?
That’s part of the fun of it. The adrenaline you get from surfing big waves. I’ve seen a shark
before. You get the worst wipe-outs when you’re not expecting it.”
With this revelation, I mentally award him 10 interest points.
“When I was a kid, one time I got my leg rope wrapped around my whole body like a ball, under water. Couldn’t get up. I was in waist deep water, but I almost drowned. You know,
I’ve had a few times.” He laughs manfully, in an “I’ve faced death and lived to tell it” kind of way.
A waiter arrives; Hemsworth pauses from the topic of his own mortality to accept the
fries, which he then douses with a worrisome amount of Tabasco. (Ten more interest points.)
He tells me about the company he keeps.
“ Ninety percent of my best friends back home are plumbers, electricians, builders, or landscapers.
Most of our dads worked in trades.” His partying-in-the-USA fiancée? “An extremely
strong, intelligent, supportive person.” Awww.
As we talk, I find myself searching for a word to define his 22-year-old personality. It’s
a specifically nonspecific charisma that he exudes. Not dull, just . . . bro. Yes, that’s it. Liam
Hemsworth is very, very bro. From his hair to his clothes to his surfer-dude vibe and french-fry lunch, he exemplifies the virtues of unpretentious comfort and fun. He could be a case
study: the Bro in 21st-Century America.
Australia as a nation, by the way? So bro.
As you know if you’ve visited a movie theatre in the past year, Hemsworth has actual brothers, as in siblings. He’s the youngest of three; the others are actors Chris and Luke
Hemsworth, of Thor and Neighbours fame, respectively. Liam followed in Luke’s footsteps
by scoring his first big part in Neighbours, an Australian soap set in a fictional Melbourne
suburb. He played a paraplegic named Josh.
How, I ask him, does one play a paraplegic? It must be a tough gig . . .
“Nope. You just sit in a wheelchair and don’t move your legs.” (Add a million more points.) “The producer came up one day to tell me he saw my leg move in a scene, and they had to cut around it. I was like, ‘I’m sorry! I was trying not to!’ ”
The physical challenges presented by Hemsworth’s workouts for The Hunger Games were more strenuous. “My character was spending most of his life in a state of hunger, and I wanted to get a sense of that, physically and mentally.” With the help of his trainer (a former Navy SEAL) and a sparse variation of the Paleo diet, the actor dropped 20 pounds in the month before filming.
As with any weight-loss regimen, exercise and diet played equal roles: Hemsworth’s 5- or 6-day-a-week workouts with his trainer included “throwing around tires, ropes—all sorts of unorthodox stuff that you wouldn’t normally do in a gym.” The main goal, he says,
was to sweat for 90 minutes. “The Navy SEAL was awesome. I always love hanging out with
security guards or Marines—real men—because they’re the most focused, professional people.
And my trainer was a great guy . . . who made me want to die for an hour.
“Training for The Hunger Games, I literally had to wait a half hour after each session before
I drove anywhere,” he says. “I had to lay on the ground until I could breathe properly again.”
That sounds like the kind of workout that could leave a man puking. Did he? Liam Hemsworth is the type of person to whom such questions may be comfortably directed.
There’s a long pause while he retrieves a possibly repressed memory. “Uh,” he says, cringing visibly. “I did, actually. One day toward the end of the workout I went really white in the face, went over to the trash can, and did a little chuck-up. It was mostly just water,” he laughs. “I hadn’t eaten all day.”
Which brings us to the second part of the regimen. “It was tough,” Hemsworth admits, “ because I’m an eater. If I have one addiction in life, it’s probably food.” But he managed to
limit his intake to lean protein, vegetables, and fruit. As a result, he found himself frequently
“in a really bad mood, with a short attention span and a short fuse.” Hunger will do that to you.
For his role in The Expendables 2, Hemsworth reversed the routine. As sniper Billy “the Kid” Timmons, he wisely put on weight so he could hold his own against costars Sylvester
Stallone, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme—real heavyweights in more ways than one. His most cherished memory from the
shoot came when Van Damme unexpectedly kicked him in the chest. Hold on, I say. Did you know the kick was coming? Was it scripted?
“No,” the actor cheerfully replies. “He wasn’t supposed to kick me.”
His most cherished memory from the
shoot came when VaDamme unexpectedly
kicked him in the chest. “I was honored,”
Hemsworth says, “to be kicked by him.”
And yet Hemsworth did not resent the sur- prise attack. “It was a present from him, in a weird way. I was honored to be kicked by him.”
When not suffering blows from belligerent Belgians, Hemsworth maintains his fighting
form through boxing, running, and surfing. Boxing is his current sport of choice.
“I love going to the gym, sweating, running around, feeling like I’m having a heart attack.
I like the physical side of boxing—it’s fun to punch a bag for 20 minutes—but I also feel
mentally strong when I box,” Hemsworth says.
“I feel good in my own body.”
As kids, Liam and his brother Chris were workout buddies. “We used to wrap towels around our hands and use them as clubs for sparring matches in the family room,” Chris told me over the phone from London, where he was shooting the film Rush. When I asked who ruled victorious in those early matches, the actor’s response (prefaced, please note, by a hoot) was a tidy thesis of friendly sibling rivalry: “Me, obviously,” Chris said. “But I’m sure Liam would say differently.”
Hemsworth is that rare celebrity who seems genuinely unobsessed with his body— a guy who relies more on common sense than trends or hyper specific diets to stay in shape. He goes to the gym three or four times a week, not every day. He eats normal food.
Sometimes he indulges; sometimes he cuts back. It’s a refreshingly uncomplicated, unencumbered, inexpensive regimen. It’s a routine that your father or your grandfather
might have followed.
His daily diet is a relaxed rotation of oatmeal, fish, asparagus, and homemade chicken stir-fry loaded with chopped vegetables. Add in scrambled eggs with vegetables (“My favourite thing is to start throwing veggies into a frypan”), and a sweet potato or dose of brown rice if he’s craving carbs. Which isn’t to say he’s averse to the occasional Krispy Kreme binge—original glazed, please, and in mass quantities. “You gotta get, like, 24 and eat all of them,” he recommends. “I lose my mind. Go crazy. Krispy Kreme fever!”Such a bro.
All Fitness __ Are You Hungry Enough?
BY NICK MARINO