Chris Hemsworth embarked on a personal and physically demanding journey for his new series ‘Limitless’ which ultimately led to a sobering discovery.
The “Thor” actor, 39, learns in an episode of the Disney+/National Geographic limited series — which shows him exploring ways to improve his longevity and fight aging — that he has two copies of the APOE4 gene, one from each of his parents, meaning he has a greater predisposition to developing Alzheimer’s disease.
“They took all my blood tests and did a bunch of tests and the plan was to tell me all the results on camera and then talk about how you can improve this and that,” Hemsworth shared with Vanity Fair in an article published Thursday. . “And Peter Attia, who is the longevity doctor in that episode, and oversees much of the show, called [“Limitless” creator] Darren [Aronofsky] and said, “I don’t want to tell him on camera.” We need to have an off-side conversation and see if he even wants this to be on the show.’ It was pretty shocking because she called me and told me.
Upon hearing the news, Hemsworth said he “had a ton of questions,” later adding that he “didn’t really know what to think. I was like, ‘Should I be worried? Is this worrying?'”
He also said that the show then “became even more relevant and important to me, even more poignant than I ever thought it would be,” adding that APOE4 “isn’t a predeterministic gene, but it’s a strong indication. Ten years ago, I think it was more considered crucial.”
The new information, which according to Hemsworth makes him “eight to ten times more likely” to develop Alzheimer’s disease, naturally led him to reflect on death and his own mortality.
“There was an intensity to navigating it. Most of us like to avoid talking about death in hopes that we will somehow avoid it,” she told Vanity Fair. “We all have this belief that we will find out. Then suddenly being told that some big indicators are actually pointing to this as the path that’s going to happen, the reality of that sinks in.
“Limitless,” which shows the Marvel star engaging in various stunts and practices to prolong and improve her life, is indeed dealing with dealing with death in the final episode.
“I think it’s my favorite episode. That’s where I worked with the death doula and people working in palliative care and end of life care and then I spoke to a number of people who were at the end of their days or approaching them – even more young people who had been diagnosed with cancer and didn’t have long to live,” she shared.
“Doing an episode about death and dealing with your own mortality made me go, ‘Oh God, I’m not ready to go yet,'” she later added. “I want to sit and be in this space with a greater sense of stillness and gratitude. And then you start talking about kids and family and you’re like, “Oh my God, they’re getting older, they’re growing up, and I keep slapping another movie on top of another movie.” Before you know it, they’re 18 and they’ve moved out, and I’ve lost the window.
In preparing the show for airing, Hemsworth also said he was “offered a version of the episode that we haven’t talked about [his discovered genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s]”, but that the prospect of helping others helped him overcome any hesitation.
“I thought, ‘No, look, if this is an incentive for people to take better care of themselves and also understand that there are steps to take – then great.’ My concern was that I didn’t want to manipulate and over-dramatize it, and turn it into some kind of hokey outlet to empathy or whatever for entertainment.
Hemsworth, who most recently appeared as the MCU’s God of Thunder in his fourth solo outing in this summer’s ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ will appear in another sequel, next year’s ‘Extraction 2’. He’s also wrapping up a yet-to-be-disclosed role in 2024’s “Furiosa,” opposite Anya Taylor-Joy, set in the “Mad Max” universe.