Most of the world saw him last with Jennifer Lawrence in the blockbuster The Hunger Games. In this exclusive interview, Style Weekend talks to newest Bench endorser Liam Hemsworth about being starstruck, his actor-siblings, and animals crossing the road
Clad in forest-hued clothing and speaking in terse sentences to his co-star Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth showed the world a true glimpse of his acting chops as Gale Hawthorne in last year’s The Hunger Games. While his role wasn’t as meaty as Lawrence’s, fans of the books know exactly how his character will grow into the story. This year, the sequel Catching Fire will hit theaters, and expectations are high. For celebrity junkies, his name may have already been in the radar, what with his high-profile relationship (and recent breakup rumors) with former Disney star and fiancée Miley Cyrus, with whom he co-starred in The Last Song back in 2010.
Most recently however, on a humid afternoon and after a much-delayed flight from Australia, Liam was as far away from his Gale persona as he could possibly be. Flying into Manila for a few days, he was here as Bench’s newest brand ambassador for their Spring/Summer 2013 campaign. Only scant hours after he landed in Manila, Liam’s schedule included one-one-one interviews, a press conference, and various meet-and-greets with fans around the metro.
When we met up for the interview, Liam was dressed in a simple V-necked dark shirt, dark-wash jeans, and sneakers. In a previous chat with Details magazine, the writer described him as “With Malibu-blond hair, azure-blue eyes, and the laid-back vibe of a 2012 Hollister-clad Jeff Spicoli. In short: the all-American surf look Hollywood now imports from Australia.” It certainly fits him perfectly. Despite the crazy adventure it must’ve taken to get to Manila, he smiled easily and conveyed that Aussie charm that millions the world over find irresistible.
“I was in Australia for about 10 days, and it was the first time I’d been back for almost two years,” he shared. “I’d love to come back more, but I’ve been working nonstop.” The Daily Mail Online had reported Liam’s visit to Australia a few days earlier, saying he was spending time with his family, including his other actor-sibling Chris (of Thor and Snow White and the Huntsman fame), Chris’ wife Elsa Pataky and their child Inda Rose.
“I miss family and friends the most in Australia,” Liam admitted. “It’s everyone I grew up with. I grew up in a really small town; I miss that kind of lifestyle and simplicity.” The last four or five years he’d been in an entirely different setup, a stark contrast to his growing-up years. Now that he’s based in Los Angeles, he had to adjust to a lot of things, the biggest of which was “being constantly in close contact with a lot of people!” he admitted, laughing. He glanced around the hotel function room we were in as if to illustrate his point: his handlers were chatting amongst themselves on one side, a photographer constantly snapping away as he talked, and Bench representatives stood near the doors. Beyond them would be more bodyguards and reps in charge of the press event for his visit.
“I grew up in open farmland, by the sea, with lots of space,” he shared. “There were no traffic lights where I grew up! We had wallabies (an informal term describing animals smaller than a kangaroo) crossing the road. You would find one in front of your car and had to wait for them to cross.” He paused, thinking. “You spend a lot of time being around cows, I think, more than people.”
It’s precisely this laidback and simple appeal of Liam’s that attracted the attention of Bench. Liam shares that he liked the brand immediately. “My style has always been pretty casual and simple. I like Bench’s stuff because it’s clean and simple, but with a creative flair to it.” He particularly loves Bench denim. “Jeans are always the hardest things to find that fit, but theirs fit really well. They’re the right length, too.”
This year, Liam has several films set to release: the most recent to premiere was Empire State alongside Emma Roberts. Then will come Paranoia with Harrison Ford, Timeless where he plays a widower who travels through time, and Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games. “I’m always looking for scripts that have a new vision. Something that hasn’t been done before,” he said. “The director is almost the most important thing for me—someone who’s very well-prepared, who I think has a new take on a film, something to surprise audiences.” Working with director Gary Ross on The Hunger Games and Francis Lawrence on Catching Fire, Liam has nothing but happy words about them. “This is a different kind of view on a post-apocalyptic world; things have gone very, very bad. When you’re working with people like them, you learn so much. They are such creative people and it’s a lot less stressful for a young actor.”
He shared that yes, as someone very new to Hollywood, he has been star-struck many times. “When you meet them you don’t want to start squealing in front of them,” he said with a laugh. “When I’m on set and working with guys like Harrison Ford or Gary Oldman or Sylvester Stallone or any of these fantastic people I’ve been so lucky to work with, I’m constantly pinching myself. I’m looking at them in the eye and kind of wondering how I got there and at times it’s definitely surreal.”
When pressed for details on the most kick-ass scene he’s filmed yet, Liam answered, “I’d say working in The Expendables 2, working with that group of people—the biggest action stars. I got kicked in the chest by Jean-Claude Van Damme, which was an honor. It was pretty incredible to work in the film.”
He’s excited to grow more as an actor, and perhaps one advantage he has is that he’s the youngest of three siblings that are all actors. Besides middle-brother Chris is eldest brother Luke, whose work is primarily on TV. “We’re always talking about [doing a project together.] We might only get one real shot to do it.” The three of them are looking for the right script and for everything else to line up. “Every now and then, something comes up that feels like it could be right, but there’re a lot of factors that have to come into it: the right director, right characters for all of us, the right scenario.”
Of course, since all three siblings are in the same industry, the topic of competition invariably comes up. It’s a well-documented part of his history that while Liam had read for the role of Thor first, it had eventually gone to Chris. Liam admitted in a previous interview that, “We are brothers and we are always competitive, but it is a good thing, it pushes us and we are always happy whenever someone books something.” When prodded on what else they were competitive about, he laughs, “Most things! Like who was going to sit in the front seat of the car. Or surfing—we all grew up surfing. I think most brothers get pretty competitive about anything in life.”
For now, Liam is keen on doing more movies and telling more stories. “Most of the actors I’ve worked with have been doing this for so long,” he said. In particular, he cites co-stars Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman: “They are great examples of actors making so many movies and still being passionate about it. They’ve worked hard and created many films over the years. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the people I’ve worked with still love what they’re doing!”