For many, Chris Hemsworth stands as the aspirational pinnacle of health: with the kind of gym-honed physique production studios now look to model superheroes after, Hemsworth’s lifestyle is one that makes his health and wellbeing a priority. From breaking a daily sweat in the gym, to meditation and eating right, Hemsworth seems to have it all down pat. But as even Hollywood’s biggest star can attest, nothing in life is guaranteed – particularly when it comes to our health. After discovering he has a higher-than-average chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia that progressively causes memory loss, Hemsworth made the decision to take time-off from acting and has opened up about his reasoning.
The news comes after the 39-year-old Aussie actor took genetic tests for Limitless, a docuseries that explores how to age slower. Though the plan was to show Hemsworth getting the results back on camera and talking about how he could improve this and that, his results indicated that he has two copies of the gene APOE4, which has been linked to an increased risk of developing the degenerative brain disorder.
According to a 2021 study, just 2 to 3 per cent of people have both copies of the gene. Not surprisingly, Peter Attia, the longevity doctor that Hemsworth and the team consulted during the episode and who oversaw a lot of the show, didn’t want Hemsworth to receive the news on camera. As Hemsworth explained, Attia “called [show 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.” According to Hemsworth, the information meant he was “eight to ten times” more likely to get Alzheimer’s.
It’s something Hemsworth is familiar with, as his grandfather also suffered from the disease. Consequently, the star thought about his own mortality and the fast-paced nature of Hollywood that saw him “slapping another movie on top of another movie” in recent years. “It really triggered something in me to want to take some time off,” said Hemsworth.
According to reports from Deadline, Hemsworth has already wrapped production on the upcoming films, Extraction 2 and the Mad Max spinoff, Furiosa.
Though Hemsworth has stressed that his results are not “cause for concern,” the findings have seen him reassess his life and busy lifestyle, choosing once again to prioritise his health, wellness, and time with family. Ultimately, it’s for this reason that he decided to leave his health revelation in the Limitless episode, hoping that the findings serve not to “manipulate” or “overdramatise” his own health, but rather encourage others to look into their health and know that there are preventative steps that can be taken to combat Alzheimer’s.
As Hemsworth expressed, “It’s not like I’ve been handed my resignation and this is what it is – and it’s up in a few months. It’s not quite that situation, thankfully.”