December 12, 2022

Podcast

#234 ‒ Chris Hemsworth on Limitless, longevity, and happiness

I was able to grow throughout the experience and have different opinions on myself and different opinions on how I approached health and wellness.” —Chris Hemsworth

Read Time 31 minutes

Chris Hemsworth, best known for his role as Thor in the Marvel movies, joins Peter to discuss his recent work in the docuseries called Limitless. In the docuseries, Chris undertook extreme challenges to explore his physical and emotional limits and gain insights into longevity. In this episode, Chris discusses these many challenges—from fasting to arctic swims to 100-foot rope climbs—as well as the insights that he gained from each. Peter, who also played a role in the docuseries, guides Chris through the science of longevity, including what Chris’s APOE-ε4 genotype means for his risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, Chris describes how his outlook on health, happiness, work-life balance, and more have changed from his experience on Limitless.

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We discuss:

  • Limitless: how Chris got involved and his overall experience filming the docuseries [3:00];
  • “Fasting” ‒ ep. 3 of Limitless in which Chris attempts a 4-day fast [8:15];
  • “Shock” ‒ ep. 2 of Limitless in which Chris swims in the Arctic Ocean [12:15];
  • Cold exposure: the potential physical and mental benefits [19:30];
  • “Strength” ‒ ep. 4 of Limitless in which Chris explores how muscle can improve longevity [21:15];
  • The APOE-ε4 genotype and Alzheimer’s disease risk [31:30];
  • How Chris uses sauna [39:45];
  • “Acceptance” – ep. 6 of Limitless in which Chris explores the meaning of life by contemplating death [42:15];
  • Chris’s new perspective on work-life balance [52:00];
  • “Stress-Proof” – ep. 1 of Limitless in which Chris learns about the impact of stress and how to manage it [54:30];
  • Chris reflects on his intrinsic motivation driven by both fear and purpose [58:00];
  • Chris reflects on his career arc and how his presence as an actor has evolved [1:01:15];
  • How Chris’s outlook has changed since filming Limitless [1:05:00]; and
  • More.

§

Limitless: how Chris got involved and his overall experience filming the docuseries [3:00]

When was the first time you heard about this project, was it a call from Darren? 

  • Yea, that was 3 years ago
  • Darren said he wanted to do a docuseries called Limitless on longevity
    • And he knew Chris was fit and healthy, and he wanted to dive into the science of longevity
    • He wanted to put Chris in some extreme/ intense physical and emotional situations and see how he fairs
  • Initially it was supposed to be a 3-week shoot, but once COVID hit, it got spread out over 2.5 years
    • It transformed in the best way possible as a result of having this extra time to flesh out each episode and explore the science in greater detail
    • Chris was able to grow throughout the experience and have different opinions on himself and how he approaches health and wellness
    • They joked about the change in timeline and were thinking of changing the title to ‘Relentless’

What else were you working on while filming Limitless? 

Peter’s involvement in the project 

  • November 2019, he was sitting in his apartment in New York with a core group from Nutopia and Protozoa (Darren, Ruth, Mary)
  • Peter remembers getting a call 3 years ago; the idea was 6 episodes
  • It’s amazing how quickly they morphed that into the first shoot in January

Did Chris have any apprehension about doing the Limitless series? (besides the time) 

  • This was not acting
  • Chris was nervous, he had never hosted anything before where he was “himself”
  • This was a situation where it was not only looking into the science but dissecting his abilities and seeing what his limits were in one regard
    • There’s a vulnerability that’s required there
  • He had to be authentic and didn’t want to hold back
  • He had some hesitation and did a of thinking about how he was going to come across
    • Was it going to be genuine? 
    • Was it going to be appreciated or not? 
    • All sorts of silly doubts and questions started to creep in that he wasn’t normally thinking about

How the docuseries evolved 

  • Chris doesn’t think any of them knew what the show was going to be 
  • They talked about it taking 3-4 weeks
  • When he spoke to Darren earlier in the week about this he said, “Yeah, it was a very different beast at the beginning
  • Due to the time they spent on it, it was allowed to evolve and become something bigger
  • The challenges became bigger too
  • There were discussions about cold water immersion and doing ice baths
    • Then it became “Let’s go to Norway, and let’s swim in the Arctic Ocean

It became more and more epic as it went on”‒ Chris Hemsworth 

How the team evolved 

  • Peter noticed there was a kind of joy in how close the team became, “It’s like you seem to trust the team even more and more as time went on and gave more and more of yourself” 
  • Everybody involved in had the expectation this was going to be bracketed in terms of time and COVID, but then it changed 
    • The breadth of expectation of what this could be expanded the scope so much

Do you get the sense that you were willing to give way more of yourself as this thing went on then maybe you had committed to upfront? 

  • Absolutely
  • Chris agrees, the trust in the people he was working with made a big difference
    • He knew these were the experts in their field
    • He knew they were taking care of him and advising him in the right way
  • Chris reflects, “It’s like working with a director and each of the experts in each of these series were kind of leading the way and they were at the helm, and I was following.  And if I have a good relationship with my director, and I trust them and that only comes through the experience and time spent, then I’m going to give more of myself and take more risks and not feel like it’s going to be exploited in any way.

 

“Fasting” ‒ ep. 3 of Limitless in which Chris attempts a 4-day fast [8:15]

  • This was the 1st episode of Limitless that they filmed

What did Chris know going into this, and what was his expectation? 

  • Chris had never fasted before
  • The initial discussions were around intermittent fasting and time restricted feeding 
  • Then it became a day or a couple days, and then Peter said, “No, we’re doing four days.
    • Peter points out he suggested 3 days because he wouldn’t normally have a patient go more than 3 days on their 1st fast
    • But they said, “No, we’re going to do one more
  • Chris’s thoughts were around if he would be able to do it or not
  • He expected to kick into ketosis on day 2-3
  • When he got to day 4 he was like, “Nah, I’m not feeling any of the sharpness or alertness
    • But that afternoon when they went spear fishing, it kicked in and things started to percolate
  • As they were getting ready to head out on the boat, Peter realized how strong Chris was
    • Because Chris didn’t have much time to prepare for the fast, and the circumstances weren’t ideal
    • They worked out every day and did a bunch of other things
    • They learned the entirely new skill of breath holding and spearfishing (that would be challenging under any circumstance)

It’s been almost 3 years since they filmed this episode, how much do you remember? 

{end of show notes preview}

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Chris Hemsworth

Christopher Hemsworth is an Australian actor who is most well known for playing Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Apart from his work in Marvel movies, he has starred in Star Trek (2009), A Perfect Getaway (2009), Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), The Cabin in the Woods (2012), Red Dawn (2012), Rush (2013), Blackhat (2015), Men in Black (2019), and Extraction (2020).  Most recently, he was the star in the National Geographic docuseries Limitless which focuses on the natural physical declines that come with aging and what can be done to preserve health.  [Wikipedia]

Facebook: Chris Hemsworth

Instagram: @chrishemsworth

Twitter: @chrishemsworth

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  1. I loved this series. I just have a little question. I wonder why Wim Hof wasn’t contacted with the cold immersion? I wondered whether or not this would have been easier to attempt with the experience that Wim could have prepared Chris. He is known for doing these types of feats.

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