Avengers: Endgame had plenty of twists, turns, and moments of fan service. None perhaps were as surprising or endearing as Thor gaining weight. The trauma-driven development gave Chris Hemsworth’s role new dimensions to explore and an arc all his own — and it could've gotten undone partway through the story. But thankfully it didn’t, and Thor’s actor was the person keeping the change intact.
**This story contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame**
Variety reports Hemsworth was the reason Thor stayed in his newly-acquired shape up through the film’s conclusion. Calling himself “Lebowski Thor” on set, likening his robed beardedness to Jeff Bridges’ White Russian-sipping Dude, Hemsworth embraced the comedy and tragedy of Thor after the characters evolution in Ragnarok. The original idea apparently had him dropping the belly by the time the final fight ramped up, but Hemsworth pushed to stay in his more robust state all the way to the end.
And it was a lot of work. “Physically, it was a good three hours in hair and makeup,” Hemsworth said. “Then the prosthetic suit, particularly for the shirt-off scene, that was a big silicone that weighed about 90 pounds. It was certainly exhausting. I had weights on my hands and ankles just to have my arms and legs swing differently when I shuffled along through the set.” Thor really did have to deal with all the extra weight and the changes in emotion and mobility it brings. But that physical reflection of trauma opened a lot of doors for dramatic and comedic acting.
“Part of Chris’ magic as a comedic actor is his dedication to the depth of the character on a very earnest level,” said Endgame co-director Anthony Russo. “We love those kinds of performers. It’s so devious and subversive when comedy is coming from a place of complete commitment and emotional complexity.” After killing Thanos (and failing to bring back those that were snapped away), Thor entered into an alcohol-fueled depression, which manifested as a beer belly and a scraggly beard. These were key to changing the character.
“I like that anything goes,” Hemsworth added. “You’re not locked into expectations.” That’s partially the reason that he fought for making the change permanent — at least through Endgame. “I enjoyed that version of Thor,” the actor said. “It was so different than any other way I played the character. And then it took on a life of its own.”
It even began to be an irritating exercise in the invasion of personal space. “People just kept coming up and cuddling me like a big bear or rubbing my belly like I was pregnant,” the actor said of his life in makeup. “Or trying to sit on my lap like I was Santa Claus. You get a lot of affection. I felt like an old man, an old grandpa, with a bunch of kids around. And then you get sick of it when people come up and grab your belly. ‘Don’t grab me like that!’” Hemsworth certainly found plenty to add to Thor’s depth over the course of filming this character’s physical change — the only question now is if it will remains now that this chapter has closed.
Do you want Thor to remain rotund if/when he reappears in the Asgardians of the Galaxy?