If you Google “Liam Hemsworth” you’ll see the internet’s overwrought and seemingly unending obsession with his private life. It comes with the territory of being a leading man in Hollywood, of course, not least one connected to an ex-Disney kid turned provocative pop-star. And while the relentless slew of articles and posts prying into his personal affairs must get irritating, they’re really the 2016 version of a fan club. An unnecessary evil if you want to stay relevant.
His on-again-off-again relationship with Miley Cyrus is portrayed as a modern Shakespearean sonnet of rekindled first love, while in reality it’s probably more like the natural vicissitudes of 20-something life these days. When we meet in the lobby of Vox Cinema’s Theatre by Rhodes in Mall of The Emirates, he seems unfazed; he’s exhausted yet polite, softly spoken yet giggly. His demeanour certainly doesn’t seem like a product of the fame machine that goes hand-in-hand with having a movie franchise like The Hunger Games under his belt. It’s more the result of the strict but happy working-class upbringing he enjoyed growing up in Victoria, Australia.
In his latest return to the big screen he’s fighting aliens in Independence Day: Resurgence – a sequel to the instant classic of the mid-1990s, which his parents thought he was too young to watch when it first came out. While he’s well versed in portraying the all-action hero, in real life the laidback surfer is much more likely to try and resolve conflict over a piece of cake and a cold drink. Although we’re not sure his brothers would agree.
It’s a quick visit to Dubai, you can’t have had much time to see the city?
No, not really. We got here yesterday afternoon and drove from the airport to the hotel and did a quick photo thing outside the hotel we’re staying in… ummmm… the tall one…
[Whispers] The Burj Khalifa?
Yeah! And we leave in a couple of hours so we haven’t had a chance to drive around and stuff.
How is it to star in a sequel when you weren’t in the first movie? Are you worried about the comparisons?
Yeah, I think definitely there’s going to be comparisons made between the first and second films. With something like this, you definitely feel a sense of responsibility to do justice to the first film and the fans behind it. But I feel that way about anything I do. You always want the film to be good! So it’s just sort of on a bigger scale with something like this. Because you know there’s already a built-in fanbase so there’s a good chance it’s going to be seen by a wider audience.
If aliens were actually to come to Earth, would you volunteer to fight them or would you be chilling at home watching Netflix?
Well, I really don’t think I’d be volunteering. I’ve been saying that we should maybe just start a peace offering and give the aliens a slice of cake or a cookie, or a drink maybe, and see if we could just resolve things peacefully. That might be the way to go, I reckon.
Roland Emmerich was telling us that you and Jeff Goldblum hit it off so much that he kept having to remind you that it was work.
Yeah, we had a lot of fun! Jeff is just a ball of energy and you know he turns up every day and makes everyone on set smile. He’s always keeping spirits high and, you know, it’s infectious for everyone there because he’s someone who really loves acting. He comes to work and he really cares about it. He cares about your part, that person’s part and everything that’s surrounding the film that he’s doing. Everyone looks up to Jeff.
I try to! It’s just the flying from country to country. I don’t like flying much. Not because I’m afraid of it or anything, it’s just exhausting. It makes me lifeless! [Laughs] It rips the soul out of me. You just accept the fact that you’ve got around a month of travelling and adrenaline.
You’ve had experience of a big press tour with The Hunger Games. Were you prepared for the level of fame that the franchise would propel you to?
I don’t know how you prepare for something like that. Before it happens everyone starts asking questions like, “Oh, are you ready for this?” and “Are you prepared?” but no, I don’t know how you prepare for it. I remember the first Hunger Games press tour we did and all three of us – myself, Jen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Josh (Hutcherson) – none of us had experienced anything like that. You just slowly get used to the whole thing and the ways that people start looking at you and the excitement behind it all. A press tour is the most intense time. Day-to-day life isn’t that same excitement or adrenaline, but you slowly get used to it and accept things how they are.
Your two older brothers, Chris and Luke, are also actors. As the youngest, did they torture you when you were growing up?
I probably tortured them more! My brothers were never mean. Chris and I, when we were kids, we would always argue and fight, but he wasn’t intentionally mean to me. We were just both really stubborn and didn’t agree on things most of the time. But I was always the younger brother and wanted to hang out with them and their friends and do what they were doing. I was a crazy kid, though! I had a short fuse, I think up until the age of about ten, and after that I calmed down… but before that I was just a little nutcase!
You say they weren’t mean. But I read that they’ve played some pretty mean games with you!
Yep. Yep… yep. [Laughs] My brother Luke came up to me one time and he had an air rifle in his hands and he said, “run!”. I was like “No! What do you mean?” and he just said, “It’s going to hurt more at this distance so just run!” So I just started running into the bush and he shot me in the bum.
Good practice for The Hunger Games! Who would you rather fight, Chris or Luke?
I dunno, they’re both pretty strong guys. Luke’s got brute strength and Chris plays Thor, who can summon thunder, so I wouldn’t like to fight either of them!
Who’s the best looking Hemsworth?
My Dad! …My Mum and Dad.
Well dodged! Before all these movies you were a penguin ranger on Phillip Island, the famous tourist spot near Melbourne?
Yeah, I worked at the penguin parade. I also went around Phillip Island picking up these mutton birds which are birds that aren’t very smart on land, and are quite dopey and goofy, so they sit on the road and get hit by cars. So you’d go around and just grab them. They spend most of their life flying and migrating from one side of the planet to the other. So you’d go around and pick them up and throw them into the sand dunes and they’d just fly off.
When you’re exhausted from all the flying, do you ever feel like you want to just quit, go back to Phillip Island and be a surfer?
Yeah, absolutely! Like I said, it’s just the flying that gets exhausting… but you know what, I’m able to do an amazing job and work with people like Jeff Goldblum and I feel so fortune to be where I am, and just thankful.
Independence Day: Resurgence is released in the UAE on July 6