Chris Hemsworth discovers genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease while making TV series
The Avengers actor reveals how the information has changed his take on life and his career.
Actor Chris Hemsworth, 39, found out that he is eight to 10 times more susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s disease on his new TV series Limitless With Chris Hemsworth, which showed him exploring ways to enhance his longevity and combat ageing.
In one episode of the show, which is streamed on Disney+, the Thor star was told that he possesses two copies of the APOE4 gene, one from each of his parents, which predispose him to the mental illness.
“They took all my bloodwork and did a bunch of tests and the plan was to on-camera tell me all the results and then talk about how you can improve this and that,” Hemsworth said in an interview with Vanity Fair.
The Marvel actor “had a bunch of questions” upon hearing the news and said he “didn’t really know what to think. I was like, ‘Am I supposed to be worried? Is this concerning?’”.
In the same interview, the married father of three said: “There was an 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.”
Hemsworth said that the Limitless team had discussed revealing the finding to him on camera. “Peter Attia, who is the longevity doctor in that episode and overseeing a lot of the show, called [Limitless creator] Darren [Aronofsky] and said, ‘I don’t want to tell him this on camera. We need to have an off-side conversation and see if he even wants this to be in the show’. It was pretty shocking because he called me up and he told me.”
The Aussie celebrity was also “offered a version of the episode where we didn’t talk about [his genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s]” but he turned it down.
“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’.
“My concern was I just didn’t want to manipulate it and overdramatise it and make it into some sort of hokey grab at empathy or whatever for entertainment.”
The information has made Hemsworth decide to take it easy. "It really triggered something in me to want to take some time off," he said, adding that he will still fulfil his work obligations.
"Now when I finish this tour this week, I'm going home and I'm going to have a good chunk of time off and just simplify. Be with the kids, be with my wife."
While the actor said he is more comfortable about turning down projects, he is by no means retiring and is simply taking "a more curated approach" to the jobs he takes on.