In just a few years, 26-yearold Melbourne native Liam Hemsworth has become a well-known name featured in some of the biggest movies. Following his older brothers Chris and Luke into the acting world and landing his first audition at the age of 16, he got his start on Australian soap opera Home And Away. Further TV success followed before he moved to the United States to pursue a career in film.
In Independence Day: Resurgence, Hemsworth plays Jake Morrison, a hotshot fighter pilot whose family was killed in the original alien attack chronicled in Roland Emmerich’s groundbreaking 1996 sci-fi thriller. Growing up an orphan, Jake joined the military, and quickly showed an aptitude for daring flight manoeuvres. But after an ego-driven mistake resulted in an accident, he was disciplined and sent to work on humanity’s projects on the moon, where he spends his days piloting an anti-gravity tug helping to construct part of the planetary defence network.
How did you get into the film in the first place?
I’d had a call that they were going to do a second Independence Day, and I then sat down with Roland and he told me his idea and why he wanted to do another one. The fact that he thought he had a great script that he felt was worth making put me at ease. And I really wanted to work with Roland, I was a big fan of his films̶he’s made some incredible movies, has pioneered this genre of film, and changed the game. And there were a lot of great actors that were going to be a part of it, and the writing was good. After I met with him, they had a couple of people send some tapes̶I was in Australia at the time and did a little scene, sent it to him and went from there. I was cast probably six months before they went into production.
So how did he pitch Jake?
Jake Morrison has a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He lost his parents in the first attack and sort of spent his life thinking about the return of these aliens and preparing for it. He joins the military and becomes a fighter pilot, quite a good one, within the best of the best, but he makes a silly mistake when his ego gets in his way a little bit. He has his wings clipped temporarily and he’s sent to the moon to work as essentially a forklift driver. For him, it’s kind of a slow job and not where he wants to be. And you realise that Earth is in this place where, for 20 years we’ve been preparing the Earth Space Defense System, which we’ve created after coming together as one planet. It’s the calm before the storm; after 20 years we’re wondering if they are going to come back, so there’s a lull… And then stuff kicks off!
It’s interesting to learn that there’s room for improvisation in a huge movie like this…
Absolutely. The reason we had so much freedom is that Roland loves to do a lot of coverage, so there were a lot of takes and a lot of room to move. Which meant you always felt like you were able to go out on a limb and try something new and if it didn’t work, it didn’t work, but a lot of the time we found really great stuff doing it that way. With all his past success, Roland has all the power in the world and he gave a lot of that to the actors. He really likes to let an actor do their thing and a lot of the time he’ll just tell you to improvise, let you explore your own ideas. Then, if there’s something he feels he needs, he’ll come and talk with you, but gives you a lot of freedom to try different things.
If you’ve enjoyed reading about Liam Hemsworth be sure to pick up a copy of the June 2016 issue of August Man Malaysia for the full story.
Photographs by John Russo; Special thanks to Twentieth Century Fox