For Chris Hemsworth, the idea of joining Paul Feig's female-led Ghostbusters reboot was a no-brainer.
Raised in Melbourne, Australia, the son of an English teacher and a social-services counsellor, he grew up on 1980s movies such as Willow and The Breakfast Club – and, of course, the original 1984 Ghostbusters, and its 1989 sequel, which starred Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson as New York spook-hunters.
“I watched those movies so much as a kid and loved them,” says Hemsworth, who was born in 1983. “I don’t know if films were different in the 1980s or they’re just nostalgic [now] because of who I was, or that period of my life watching them.
“But they sort of defined so many things: your own sense of humour, the way you acted and interacted, and how you saw the world. So, yeah, it’s kind of cool to go and be a part of that and revisit it without it being just a remake. There’s a whole new spin on it now.”
Hemsworth himself has, of course, become an icon for the current generation of moviegoers, thanks to his role as Thor in Marvel's two Avengers movies plus three solo outings, including Thor: Ragnarok, due for release next year.
However, he had rarely had the chance to do comedy – until a guest spot on US sketch-comedy staple Saturday Night Live changed everything.
"Paul Feig, the [Ghostbusters] writer-director, called me up and said: 'That was great. I didn't know you could do that. Do you have a bigger interest in doing more of that?' And I said: 'Yeah I've always wanted to do some comedy.'"
And so Hemsworth landed the role of Kevin, a less-than-clever receptionist hired by the Ghostbusters (Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, and SNL regulars Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones).
Feig warned him in advance, however, that the role – as it appeared on the page – was rather thinly sketched.
“He said: ‘The way we work is improv, throw suggestions and just try things.’ I said: ‘OK, cool.’ I read the script, loved the script, loved all the girls involved.”
Still, when it came to actually shooting the film, Hemsworth admits he was a little nervous.
“The night before we started shooting, I called Paul and said: ‘What am I doing?,’” he says.
The script was still not fully formed.
“I had a couple of lines and was told the scenes were coming,” he says. “I said: ‘They’re not there and we shoot tomorrow.’ He said: ‘It’s fine – this is the way we work.’ And everyone around him, like his producers, said: ‘This is Paul’s thing.’ I was like: ‘Oh my God, this is going to be a disaster.’”
While Hemsworth found such a process “scary” to contemplate, in the end he evidently took to it with ease.
“It ended up being so much fun,” he says, explaining that Feig and his co-stars would frequently build on the foundation of any given scene with off-the-cuff one-liners.
His comic chops well and truly exercised, Hemsworth’s Kevin is one of the funniest characters in the movie, as he clumsily staggers around the set without a care in the world.
“It was so liberating,” he says. “It was like: ‘OK – if it doesn’t work, it’s not my fault’ – as opposed to: ‘Here’s the greatest script in the world, don’t screw it up.’”
But what about the switch from the all-male team of Ghostbusters in the original films to a female crew? Some internet fanboys were less than happy after the first trailer dropped.
“I think it’s awesome,” says Hemsworth. “It feels less of a remake. What they bring to it is something very unique. Not just being female, unlike the original, which was male, but in the sense that they’re so, so funny and so, so, smart.
“I think people will be blown away by it.”
Ghostbusters is in cinemas now