Chris Hemsworth embarked on a personal and physically demanding journey for his new “Limitless” series that 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 an increased predisposition to developing Alzheimer’s disease.
“They took all my blood work 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 this episode and who oversees a lot of the show, called [“Limitless” creator] Darren [Aronofsky] and said, “I don’t want to tell him that on camera”. We need to have an offside conversation and see if he even wants this on the show. It was quite shocking because he called me and he told me.
Upon hearing the news, Hemsworth said he “had a bunch of questions”, later adding that he “didn’t really know what to think. I thought, ‘Am I supposed to be worried? Is this worrying?”
He also said the show then “became even more relevant and important to me, even more poignant than I ever thought it would be”, adding that APOE4 is “not a predeterministic gene, but it’s is a strong indication. Ten years ago, I think it was more considered to be decisive.
The new information, which Hemsworth says makes him “eight to 10 times more likely” to eventually develop Alzheimer’s disease, naturally got him thinking about death and his own mortality.
“There was an intensity to sailing. Most of us like to avoid talking about death in hopes of somehow avoiding it,” he told Vanity Fair. “We all have this belief that we are going to find out. Then all of a sudden you’re told that some big indicators are actually pointing to this as the road that’s going to happen, reality sinks in there.
“Limitless,” which shows the Marvel star engaging in various stunts and practices to prolong and enhance his life, is actually about facing death in the final episode.
“I think that’s my favorite episode. That’s where I worked with the death doula and people who worked in palliative care and end-of-life care, and then I talked to a number of people who were at the end of their days or surprised them – even younger people who had been diagnosed with cancer and didn’t have long to live,” he shared.
“Doing an episode about death and dealing with your own mortality made me go, ‘Oh my God, I’m not ready to go yet,'” he later added. “I want to sit and be in this space with a greater sense of calm and gratitude. And then you start talking about the kids and the family and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, they’re getting older, they’re growing up and I keep putting another movie on another movie. Before you know it, they’re 18 and they moved out of the house, and I missed the window.
In preparing the show for air, Hemsworth also mentioned that he was “offered a version of the episode where we didn’t talk about [his discovered genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s]but that the prospect of helping others helped her overcome any hesitation.
“I thought, ‘No, look, if that’s motivation for people to take better care of themselves and also understand that there are steps you can take – then fantastic. My concern was that I just didn’t want to manipulate it and over-dramatize it, and make it some kind of spat at empathy or anything for entertainment.
Hemsworth, who recently appeared as the MCU’s God of Thunder in his fourth solo outing in this summer’s “Thor: Love and Thunder,” is next slated to appear in another sequel, “Extraction 2” next year. He’s also finishing an as-yet-unrevealed role in 2024’s “Furiosa,” starring Anya Taylor-Joy, in the “Mad Max” universe.