Fears of Alzheimer's disease have pushed Thor star Chris Hemsworth to take "time off" from acting to spend more time with his family. This comes after he worked on National Geographic's Limitless, a new docuseries about pushing back on the natural decline that comes with time and aging.
The 39-year-old heartthrob said he came face-to-face with reality. "Doing an episode on death and facing your own mortality made me go, 'Oh, God, I'm not ready to go yet'," Hemsworth revealed.
"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 going, 'Oh my God, they're getting older, they are growing up, and I keep slapping another movie on top of another movie.' Before you know it, they are 18 and they have moved out of house, and I missed the window."
Hemsworth has a daughter India, 10, and 8-year-old twin sons Tristan and Sasha, with wife Elsa Pataky, 46.
Hemsworth's Biggest Fear
So what sent the blockbuster actor's feelings into a tailspin? Hemsworth recently underwent a series of genetic tests as part of the Limitless to see what the future had in store for him. He found that his DNA includes two copies of the gene APOE4, one from his father and one from his mother. Studies have linked it to an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease. One in four people, as per a 2021 study by the National Institutes of Health, carry a single copy of the gene, but only 2 to 3% of the population have both.
Hemsworth said it's not a hard diagnosis but it's surely a cause for concern. He said the double occurrence of the gene places him in a category of much higher risk for being impacted by the condition. "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," the Australian actor shared. "It's not like I have been handed my resignation."
Blessing in Disguise
Hemsworth sees this revelation as a blessing. He can take steps to manage the risk, maintain physical and mental health, and also stave off the development of the disorder for as long as possible. Hemsworth said Limitless was initially an exploration on longevity. "It became even more relevant and important for me, even more poignant than I ever thought it would be. It was a really good catalyst to dive into everything."
The Men in Black: International actor shared there was intensity to navigating it. "Most of us, we like to avoid speaking about death in the hope that we'll somehow avoid it. We all have this belief that we'll figure it out. Then to all of a sudden be told some big indicators are actually pointing to this as the route which is going to happen, the reality of it sinks in. Your own mortality."