Marvel star Chris Hemsworth received a shocking diagnosis while filming his new series. Now he wants to take all the time in the world that is necessary.
As Thor, the god of thunder in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Chris Hemsworth is nearly immortal and invulnerable. Even by human standards, the 39-year-old Australian is a beast, which he regularly demonstrates with videos of his training sessions on social networks.
So for the new National Geographic documentary series, Without Limits, co-written by The Whale director Darren Aronofsky, there couldn’t have been a better contributor than Chris Hemsworth to explore the question of how to unlock the full potential of the human… body and delays the inevitable aging as long as possible. Different physical and mental challenges are addressed in a total of six episodes, all of which are now available on Disney+.
While working on the fifth episode, “Memory,” Hemsworth was confronted with “his greatest fear,” as he spoke to Vanity Fair let know: Alzheimer’s disease. The most common form of dementia, named after its discoverer Alois Alzheimer, usually occurs in people over 65 and is characterized by a gradual but ultimately fatal course in which those affected forget and unlearn more and more until they are completely helpless are.
Extensive blood tests revealed that Hemsworth carries two copies of the APOE4 gene, inherited from both parents. According to study the probability that someone carries both is given as two to three percent, which is extremely low. Those affected are ten times more likely to develop dementia in old age:
“Yeah, they took my blood and ran a bunch of tests. The plan was to present all the results to me in front of the camera and to talk about how this and that could be improved. And Peter Attia, who is this episode’s longevity doctor and has overseen much of the series, called out [Showrunner] darren [Aronofsky] and said, ‘I don’t want to tell him that on camera. We need to have a one on one conversation and find out if he even wants that on the show.’ It was pretty shocking…”
Chris Hemsworth’s grandfather has Alzheimer’s
For Hemsworth, however, the diagnosis did not come as a complete surprise, as his grandfather was already suffering from Alzheimer’s disease:
“I haven’t seen him for a few years, but my other family members have seen him and there are days when he’s very happy and gives you a hug. But my mother told me that he’s just a very friendly guy. I’m not sure he remembers much…”
After the initial shock, he quickly recovered, because the presence of the gene is only a strong indicator, but not a determining factor for the disease. He was offered to cut this part entirely from the series, but Hemsworth deliberately decided against it to shake people up:
“I thought to myself, ‘No, if that’s a motivation for people to take better care of themselves and also to understand that there are steps you can take, then that’s fantastic.’ My only concern was that I didn’t want to manipulate and over-dramatize it and make it some kind of crazy attempt at sympathy or whatever for entertainment.”
This experience, but also the work on the entire series, made him realize that it is time to step on the brakes after all the non-stop work of the past few years and take time – for his family and for himself:
“Since we finished the series, I’ve been taking care of the things I’ve already signed on to do. When I’m done with the press tour this week, I’ll go home and take quite a while to just unwind. To be with the children, with my wife.”
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