Chris Hemsworth is nearly invincible in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, playing Thor, the God of Thunder. For many, the actor is the embodiment of a superhero, as he’s played the character for over a decade with plenty of appearances throughout different MCU movies. However, Hemsworth discussed his own mortality during an episode of Limitless, the Disney+ National Geographic series, which follows the actor as he looks for different ways we can live better lives for a longer time.
During the fifth episode, Memory, Hemsworth underwent a series of genetic tests, ultimately revealing what he calls “my biggest fear.” The actor carries two copies of the gene APOE4, significantly increasing his chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Typically, one copy of the gene increases your risk, while two copies, shared by his mother and father, could be cause for concern. Hemsworth recently sat down with Vanity Fair, where he discussed the revelation and the small 2 to 3% of the population which carries two copies of the gene.
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“The show, which initially was an exploration of longevity and, of course, should be fun, became even more relevant and important for me, even more poignant than I ever thought it could be. It was a really good catalyst to dive into everything I needed to be doing in either the prevention front or the management front or however you want to classify it. It’s not a pre-deterministic gene, but it is a strong indication. Ten years ago, I think it was more thought of as determinant.”
Hemsworth continues, sharing the likelihood of carrying two copies of the APOE4 gene. “Yeah, it’s like one in a thousand people… or one in 10,000. I can’t remember,” he explained. “But eight to 10 times more likely.” Luckily, Hemsworth has already begun to take preventative steps, which should, at the very least, delay any onset of Alzheimer’s.
Related: Chris Hemsworth Says His Next Thor Appearance Should Be His Last
Chris Hemsworth Wants to Motivate People Facing Similar Issues
Hemsworth recognizes the tendency to avoid speaking about death, though he says his “own mortality” sunk in after his conversation with the doctor. “Yeah 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,” Hemsworth said. “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. Your own mortality.” The actor was offered to avoid the conversation entirely in Limitless, though he ultimately decided to share his story with the world.
“I was offered a version of the episode where we didn’t talk about it, and for the exact reason you are mentioning now, 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 overdramatize it, and make it into some sort of hokey grab at empathy or whatever for entertainment.”
Limitless provides an authentic look at Hemsworth as he tries every method available to maximize his strength, resilience, and memory. The six-part National Geographic documentary is available now, streaming on Disney+.
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