You may not know his name, but you’re almost certainly familiar with Bobby Holland Hanton’s work. Hanton is a professional stunt man and body double. Featuring in blockbuster franchises like The Avengers, James Bond, Mission Impossible and Star Wars, Hanton has doubled for the likes of Tom Cruise, Daniel Craig, Channing Tatum, Christian Bale and Chris Hemsworth. To pass as some of the fittest men in Hollywood, Hanton has pushed himself to the limit. But becoming the strongest Thor ever was his biggest challenge of all.
In an interview with Ice 36, Hanton admitted he already went all in to double for Chris Hemsworth in the first three Thor films. “I’ve always had to work double hard. I have to wear 2-inch lifts in my shoes to get near his height. And I train like a mad man to get anywhere near his physicality,” Hanton said. But when Hemsworth revealed he wanted to get even fitter for Thor: Love and Thunder, Hanton was ready to take things to the next level, no matter the cost.
Becoming the strongest Thor ever entailed two gruelling daily workouts and a staggering ten meals a day to bulk up. “I never thought in my life that I would be sick of food and not wanting to eat food, because I love food, but I hated it.” Hanton said. “In the end, I was trying to give away food that I was supposed to eat because I just didn’t want to eat it. It would almost make you feel sick because you were never, ever hungry.”
Bulking gym veterans would be familiar with eating extra meals to pack in some extra calories and protein. But Hanton’s diet during Love and Thunder was insane. On a ten meal per day schedule, Hanton would’ve had less than two hours between each meal. That’s simply not sustainable. After struggling to fit the meals into his schedule, Hanton found a peculiar method of forcing down extra calories. “I would cook two breasts of chicken and leave them on the kitchen side,” he said. “When I’d wake up to go to the loo halfway through the night, I’d eat the chicken and then go back to sleep.”
Sounds like hell, right? Well, despite the challenging workouts and bizarre late-night snacking antics, Hanton says the experience got him and Hemsworth into the best shape of their lives. “It made me work harder, it made him work harder and we both got into the best physical shape we’ve ever been in.”
We’d have to assume that Chris Hemsworth is an ideal gym buddy and training partner. And Hanton believes that Hemsworth’s commitment and work ethic is unmatched. “If he wasn’t such a great actor, he’d be one of the best stunt guys,” he said. “He kickboxes, he surfs, he’s physically really good. And when I teach him a fight scene that I’ve learnt with the fight crew, he picks it up so quickly.”
Being a stuntman isn’t all about looking the part. Performing death-defying feats is what stuntmen are paid for. And regardless of a litany of safety precautions, Hanton admits that it’s a dangerous profession. “There’s always going to be mistakes, there’s always going to be accidents but that’s just the nature of what we do.”
Spend as much time in the industry as Hanton and you’re bound to rack up an extensive list of injuries. “I had major back surgery in early 2019. I have two titanium discs in my lower back. And last year I had neck surgery,” he said. “I’ve busted my knee, I’ve busted my ankle, my shoulder, I’ve had broken toes and broken fingers. But those in the grand scheme of things aren’t that crazy.”
Despite his long list of injuries and the potential risks that come with the job, Hanton insists he’s never turned down a stunt. “There’s never been a stunt that I’ve been asked to do that I haven’t done.” Being a stunt man isn’t all danger, it also comes with a range of benefits. “I get to travel the world, go to amazing places and get paid to do that. And I get to work with so many amazing and inspirational people,” Hanton said.
Hanton pushed himself to the limit with a gruelling lifestyle to double for Thor. But he wouldn’t turn down an offer to go even further and work with Hemsworth again. “I never want to have to do it to that level. But the chances are Chris will want to and I will say yes again.”