Fans of Marvel Comics and Disney's franchise of "Avengers" movies might have a hard time imagining anyone else but actor Chris Hemsworth in the role of Thor, the god of thunder who makes up part of the superhero team at the center of movies like the new "Avengers: Endgame."
But believe it or not, a decade ago, the Australian actor nearly lost out on the role of a lifetime to a different Hemsworth — Chris' younger brother, Liam. In 2009, according to Deadline, Liam actually came close to beating out his older brother for the chance to don Thor's long golden locks while wielding Mjolnir, the powerful hammer the Asgardian god uses to smash enemies like Thanos.
"My little brother, Liam, was in Australia and sent [an audition] tape across and he got a call back, then another call back and then was down to the last, kind of, four or five people for it," Chris told W Magazine about his brother's audition process for the first standalone "Thor" movie. Meanwhile, Chris was not among the few finalists for the role — at least, not at first.
At the time, Chris Hemsworth was a relatively unknown 25-year-old actor whose biggest roles were a brief part in 2009's "Star Trek" (in a flashback, as Captain Kirk's father) and a long-running role on the Australian soap opera "Home and Away." Meanwhile, Liam, then only about 19, had recently been cast alongside Miley Cyrus (now his wife) in the film adaptaion of Nicholas Sparks book "The Last Song."
Both of the 6-foot-3-inch brothers were the right size for the role.
"I remembered reading the breakdown for Thor and it said, 'Must be over 6'3" and 200 pounds,' and so on ... So I thought, 'Great. This is up my alley,'" Chris Hemsworth tells W Magazine.
While Chris felt like he "nailed" his audition with "Thor" director Kenneth Branagh, Hemsworth says he didn't hear back about the role. Liam, on the other hand, moved on to do a screen test for the movie along with a few other actors (whose identities are not known). But, Branagh and the film's casting directors ultimately decided to pass on Liam as well as all of the other short-listed actors, which meant they had to go back to the drawing board.
Around that time, Hollywood director and producer Joss Whedon, who was filming the horror movie "Cabin in the Woods" with Chris Hemsworth (and would go on to write and direct the first "Avengers" movie, in 2012), decided to give Chris an assist.
"I remember sitting in Vancouver, shooting 'Cabin in the Woods' with [director] Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon. Both of them were looking at the trades at this, sort of, top five guys for 'Thor' and saying, 'Why aren't you in the mix here? What happened?' I said, 'I don't know. I blew my audition I guess,'" Hemsworth says.
Whedon made a call to Marvel and Branagh to suggest they take another look at Chris Hemsworth for the role. That call helped Chris get another look from the director, and he clearly made a better impression the second time around.
After meeting again with Branagh a few times, Marvel shot a screen test with Chris that confirmed he was the right Hemsworth for the role.
"We pretty much knew as we were shooting the test that he was the guy," Branagh told The Hollywood Reporter in 2011. "It seemed, across these meetings, he had grown into it. He understood it better. And crucially, he was at ease."
In fact, Hemsworth says he was actually inspired to give a better performance in his follow-up auditions by the fact that his little brother nearly took the job away from him. Chris admits that "sibling rivalry sort of kicked up in me" after Liam made it farther into the process than he did at first.
"We're competitive," Chris tells The Hollywood Reporter, "but in the best way."
Fortunately, things worked out well for all of the Hemsworth brothers (older brother, Luke, 37, is also an actor on shows like HBO's "Westworld"). Chris became Thor, going on to appear in eight different Marvel movies, so far, including the latest: "Avengers: Endgame," which officially hits theaters on Friday.
It's been a star-making role for Hemsworth, and a lucrative one too, as the actor reportedly earned a $15 million payday per film for each of most recent "Avengers" movies ("Endgame" and 2018's "Avengers: Infinity War").
Meanwhile, Liam Hemsworth went on to star in the "Hunger Games" movie franchise and 2016's "Independence Day: Resurgence."
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