Chris Hemsworth, big screen hero and star of the Thor films, has changed course to become a shipwrecked sailor in his latest film, In the Heart of the Sea, currently being shot on location in the Canary Islands of Spain.
While everyone is more used to seeing him with the lovely Natalie Portman, his Thor co-star, residents living on the island of La Gomera are being treated to seeing Hemsworth with his beautiful Spanish wife, Elsa Pataky, who is pregnant with their second child.
Said residents are also more than happy that Hollywood has chosen their island as a location for the film, as this brings jobs to the local communities, as well as relief to a struggling cinema sector in Spain.
Hemsworth, 30, and British co-star Tom Holland are among the better known actors appearing in the film, and have been seen recently, barefoot and ragged, disembarking from a 19th century whaling ship in the bay at La Gomera. Other actors involved are Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson and Benjamin Walker.
While the actors themselves only arrived in town just a few days ago, apparently the filmmakers were on the island three months ago, and since then the town of only 2,000 residents has been filled with people frequenting the hotels, bars and restaurants in the area.
Sandra Lorenzo, 36, owns a restaurant called Los Chicos in the town, and she says what is happening is fantastic. “If only they could film all year round,” she exclaimed, explaining that they have been ordering lots of meals.
The Canary Islands have been suffering even more than most Spanish regions from the economic crisis of the last five years. With an unemployment rate of over 35 percent, people are struggling to get by. Hence the locals are ecstatic to see Chris Hemsworth, Thor star, working on location in Spain and attracting tourism.
It seems that when US filmmaker Ron Howard saw the beaches of La Gomera, he just knew it was the ideal setting for his new film, In the Heart of the Sea.
The film relates the true story dating back to 1820 of a ship’s crew who, after being shipwrecked by a charge from a sperm whale, end up descending into killing each other and partaking in cannibalism. Reportedly this same tale inspired Moby Dick, the Herman Melville classic novel.
With the layout of the bay on La Gomera, it was relatively easy to get the right look, with rough huts on the black volcanic beach at Playa de Santiago representing their primitive housing. A reproduction whaler floats at anchor nearby and actors and crew are ferried backwards and forwards using more modern boats and canoes.
José María Chinea, 51, is a local carpenter who was hired among others to build the set. He says he erected the old looking palm trees on the beach, and painted their leaves green.
He explained to AFP that he had been unemployed for three years, and that at his age and in this economic climate, that means pretty much permanent unemployment. But he says, “Now look at me – I’m working in Hollywood, and so is my son.”
Getting back to Chris Hemsworth and his lovely wife, the Daily Mail did report that they and their 18 month old daughter, India Rose, were involved in a real-life shipwreck off the coast on Sunday evening.
Apparently the Fishing Big catamaran in which they and eight other passengers were sailing ran aground.
According to a source, no one was injured, but any kind of sea rescue is a little scary, especially when it involves a pregnant woman with a young child. But then, of course, she did have a hero with her.
Shooting continues on the island, and the film The Heart of the Sea is set for release in 2014.
In other Spain-Hollywood news, Ridley Scott is currently busy filming the epic Exodus right next door on the island of Fuerteventura. Scott and crew arrived on Monday after shooting desert scenes in Almeria in Andalucia, southern Spain, another region hard hit by the crisis.
Exodus, the story of Moses, looks to be a sure fire hit at the box office, starring Oscar winning actor Christian Bale and Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul. Hundreds of locals were employed as extras on the set earning around 80 euros a day, which was a hit with them too.
The general consensus is that Hollywood must keep it up, the country has such varied landscapes it is a perfect set for all kinds of movies, as Chris Hemsworth, the Thor star currently on location in Spain, will definitely agree.
By Anne Sewell