Chris Hemsworth has discovered he has a significantly increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease due to genetic factors, prompting the Thor actor to take some time off from acting.
The 39-year-old Australian actor learned he had two copies of the gene ApoE4, inherited from both parents, after undergoing tests as part of the Disney+ documentary series Limitless.
Those tests confirmed his “greatest fear,” Hemsworth told Vanity Fair in an interview, showing that he is among only 2-3% of the population who are as much as 10 times more likely to develop the disease than those without both copies of the gene. .
“It’s not like I’ve been fired,” Hemsworth told Vanity Fair — but he said that working on the show, in which he tests his body and explores ways to live longer and healthier, “really triggered something in me to want take some time off”.
“If you look at Alzheimer’s prevention, the benefit of preventative measures is that it affects the rest of your life,” he said. “It’s about sleep management, stress management, nutrition, movement, fitness. It’s all kind of the same tools that have to be used consistently.”
He clarified that this was not a diagnosis: “It is not a pre-deterministic gene, but it is a strong indication. Ten years ago, I think it was more thought of as decisive.”
The actor said that the documentary series’ creator, Darren Aronofsky, and one of the doctors on the show, Peter Attia, discussed how the diagnosis would be covered. It had initially been planned for the actor to receive all of his genetic test results live on camera – but Aronofsky told him privately when they got the results.
Hemsworth was later given the option to delete all references to Alzheimer’s from the show, but he said he felt it was important to include his genetic predisposition to the worsening neurological condition. He wanted to help the public improve their awareness and understanding of how to take “preventive steps”.
“My concern was that I just didn’t want to manipulate it and overdramatize it and turn it into some kind of hokey grab at empathy or whatever for entertainment,” he told Vanity Fair.
Hemsworth also confirmed to the magazine that his grandfather was currently being treated for Alzheimer’s.
Hemsworth has a role in George Miller’s upcoming Mad Max film Furiosa, which wrapped earlier this month. He said he intended to take a break from acting after completing the publicity tour for Limitless, along with his other contract work.
He will return home to Byron Bay to spend time with his partner, actress Elsa Pataky, and the couple’s three children. “I’m going to have a good amount of time off and just simplify. Be with the children, be with my wife.”