Exclusive Interview: Liam Hemsworth (Independence Day: Resurgence)
In just a few years, 26-year-old Melbourne native Liam Hemsworth has become a well-known name featured in some of the biggest movies. Following his older brothers Chris and Luke into the acting world and landing his first audition at the age of 16, he got his start on Australian soap opera Home And Away. Further TV success followed before he moved to the United States to pursue a career in film.
He won the role of Spencer in 2009 Nicolas Cage sci-fi thriller Knowing and scored attention co-starring with Miley Cyrus in the Nicolas Sparks adaptation The Last Song. From there, Hemsworth was cast as Gale Hawthorne in The Hunger Games, and the film series helped boost his profile to a whole new level. Other work followed including The Expendables 2 and drama The Dressmaker opposite Kate Winslet. He also stars opposite Woody Harrelson in the upcoming Western drama The Duel.
In Independence Day: Resurgence, Hemsworth plays Jake Morrison, a hotshot fighter pilot whose family was killed in the original alien attack chronicled in Roland Emmerich’s groundbreaking 1996 sci-fi thriller. Growing up an orphan, Jake joined the military, and quickly showed an aptitude for daring flight maneuvers. But after an ego-driven mistake resulted in an accident, he was disciplined and sent to work on humanity’s projects on the moon, where he spends his days piloting an anti-gravity tug helping to construct part of the planetary defence network.
The film is set 20 years after the original alien attack on the globe, and humanity has banded together to prepare for the extraterrestrials’ return. Jake, who is also dating Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe), daughter of war hero and troubled former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman), will find himself tested like never before when the aliens return with more powerful weapons than ever before. He’ll need to put aside his own ego when the world is in danger?
Hemsworth talks about working with complicated visual effects, how director Roland Emmerich gave him space to improvise and the sheer joy of spending time on a set with Jeff Goldblum…
How did you get into the film in the first place?
I’d had a call that they were going to do a second Independence Day, and I then sat down with Roland and he told me his idea and why he wanted to do another one. The fact that he thought he had a great script that he felt was worth making put me at ease. And I really wanted to work with Roland, I was a big fan of his films – he’s made some incredible movies, has pioneered this genre of film, and changed the game. And there were a lot of great actors that were going to be a part of it, and the writing was good. After I met with him, they had a couple of people send some tapes – I was in Australia at the time and did a little scene, sent it to him and went from there. I was cast probably six months before they went into production.
So how did he pitch Jake?
Jake Morrison has a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He lost his parents in the first attack and sort of spent his life thinking about the return of these aliens and preparing for it. He joins the military and becomes a fighter pilot, quite a good one, within the best of the best, but he makes a silly mistake when his ego gets in his way a little bit. He has his wings clipped temporarily and he’s sent to the moon to work as essentially a forklift driver. For him, it’s kind of a slow job and not where he wants to be. And you realize that Earth is in this place where, for 20 years we’ve been preparing the Earth Space Defense System, which we’ve created after coming together as one planet. It’s the calm before the storm; after 20 years we’re wondering if they are going to come back, so there’s a lull… And then stuff kicks off!
And there’s a character triangle between Jake, Maika Monroe’s Patricia Whitmore and Jessie Usher’s Dylan Hiller?
There’s a little bit of a triangle there, yeah. My character has always looked at Jessie’s character as a bit of a rival; they’ve been friendly, they’ve gone through this flight training and military experience together and then I think when Jake realizes that Dylan’s number one and he’s the son of the guy who saved the world, it starts to weigh on Jake a little and he becomes jealous and that’s why he makes his decision that in the end leads to his wings getting clipped. There’s some stale air between them.
“The reason we had so much freedom is that Roland loves to do a lot of coverage, so there were a lot of takes and a lot of room to move.”
And he’s a funny guy?
He is. He’s quite self-deprecating in a way, he doesn’t take himself so seriously, which is something I can relate to in myself. And it was a really fun role to play, we had a lot of opportunities to bring light and humor to these crazy epic scenarios, which was really fun. The two writers, James A. Woods and Nick Wright are incredible and I had a really good time working with them on set. Before every scene we’d try and figure out whether there was a chance to bring some lightness and some humor to it, and any opportunity we had for that was really fun. It was good just spit-balling ideas and coming up with six or seven different ways to say a line and moments to put here and there, little nuances. It was a fun collaboration to have with writers, and I’ve never had that before where we had our own little group to explore ideas. You had the courage and confidence to do it because it wasn’t just you trying something on your own, you had a team there, which was wonderful.
Both of the writers are in the film too, right?
Yeah. Nick plays the lawyer-type character in the film, the serious guy who is there to tell everyone what to do and not to do, but he’s a very quirky guy and was constantly improvising. Especially when we’re in these crazy scenes where we’re flying around and the world’s falling apart.
It’s interesting to learn that there’s room for improv in a huge movie like this…
Absolutely. The reason we had so much freedom is that Roland loves to do a lot of coverage, so there were a lot of takes and a lot of room to move. Which meant you always felt like you were able to go out on a limb and try something new and if it didn’t work, it didn’t work, but a lot of the time we found really great stuff doing it that way. With all his past success, Roland has all the power in the world and he gave a lot of that to the actors. He really likes to let an actor do their thing and a lot of the time he’ll just tell you to improvise, let you explore your own ideas. Then, if there’s something he feels he needs, he’ll come and talk with you, but gives you a lot of freedom to try different things.
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Independence Day Resurgence is out now on Digital
Available on 3D, 4K UHD, Blu-ray & DVD from October 19
Grab a copy (Digital): iTunes
Grab a copy (3D Blu-Ray): Sanity | JB HiFi
Grab a copy (4K UHD Blu-Ray): Sanity | JB HiFi
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Grab a copy (DVD): Sanity | JB HiFi
Grab a copy (2-Movie Collection Blu-Ray): Sanity | JB HiFi
Grab a copy (2-Movie Collection DVD): Sanity | JB HiFi