Chris Hemsworth says he plans to make some changes and be especially selective in choosing his future projects after discovering on his Disney+ show Limitless that he carries two copies of a gene linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The actor learned that he carries two copies of the gene APOE4 — one from his mother and one from his father. Studies link it to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Hemsworth noted that he is at no imminent risk. He also said he was unsure whether to reveal the discovery on the show, because he didn’t want to seem like he was manipulating the situation.
“My concern was I just didn’t want to manipulate it and overdramatize it, and make it into some sort of hokey grab at empathy, or whatever, for entertainment,” Hemsworth told Vanity Fair. “It’s not like I’ve been handed my resignation.” He notes, for example, that he is open to again playing Thor.
Limitless, created by Darren Aronofsky, follows Hemsworth as he tries to slow the natural declines that accompany aging. During filming, he underwent countless tests to learn about his genetic predispositions, and in the process discovered what he calls “my biggest fear.”
It was not, however, a complete surprise, he says, because his grandfather has Alzheimer’s. A recent National Institues of Health study reported that “about 25% of people carry one copy of APOE4, and 2 to 3% carry two copies.” Hemsworth is in the latter group. On the show, a doctor tells him he is eight to 10 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s in the future.
Chris Hemsworth said he opted to include his test results in the episode in the hopes that it might help others make good decisions.
“I was offered a version of the episode where we didn’t talk about it,” he told Vanity Fair. “I thought, ‘No, look, if this is a motivator for people to take better care of themselves and also understand that there are steps you can take—then fantastic.'”
He also said his experience on the show made him want to be more selective in how he spends his time.
“I’m just at the point of my life where I’m meeting with different directors and [people say] ‘Oh yeah, look, he’s a mad genius. He’s mad, but he’s a genius and he’ll make great films,'” Hemsworth told Vanity Fair. “I’m like, “Is that who I want to spend my days with?’ Four months, five months of shooting and then you’ve got press and possible reshoots and so on.”
He continued: “Now, if something’s going to pull me away from my family and my kids, it’s got to be a positive, constructive, collaborative experience. I shot with George Miller on the new prequel to Fury Road, part of the Mad Max saga, and I said to my agent, “That’s where I want to spend my work hours with — someone who is kind and collaborative and interesting.’”
Main image: Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Love and Thunder.