Limitless Director on the Moment That Put Chris Hemsworth in Very Real Danger

In a new interview with IGN, Limitless with Chris Hemsworth director Darren Aronofsky talks about what it was like to work with the Thor actor, and his fear during the Disney Plus documentary's most intense scene.


Limitless with Chris Hemsworth is a new documentary series from Oscar-nominated director Darren Aronofsky. It explores humanity’s relationship with mortality and our capacity to hack our bodies to live longer, healthier lives. IGN caught up with Aronofsky prior to the series’ November 16 premiere on Disney+ to talk about the star, the science behind the exciting new show, and the dangers involved in creating it.
Aronofsky is well-known for directing dark psychological dramas such as the 2010 movie Black Swan — for which he received an Oscar nomination — Mother! and Requiem for a Dream. His upcoming movie, The Whale starring Brendan Fraser, which is set to release into theatres in the US later this year, has also garnered numerous awards on the film festival circuit and a score of 9 from IGN.

"Chris Hemsworth Is Not an Obvious Choice"


In his latest documentary series, Aronofsky partnered up with the god of thunder and National Geographic to explore the relationship we humans have with mortality, and how we can optimize our bodies to slow the clock on ageing.
“Well, I like the Chris Hemsworth choice because it's not an obvious choice,” Aaronofsky explained to IGN, regarding casting decisions. “He is incredibly focused in his life on health and fitness, and he seems so far away from any issues of end of life or should even be wondering and thinking about longevity. But actually, what the show points out is that there’s no time too early to start thinking about these questions.”
During the six-part series, Hemsworth strives to master different ways to hack his body in order to slow the ageing process and improve his health in later life. This journey often showcases the beauty of the natural world with dramatic cinematography and provides a window into the Hollywood star’s life.
“I think one of the beautiful things about the show is how open Chris is throughout it. He was really vulnerable, and he really gave a lot of focus to it and a lot of access to it, and it's rare that you find a movie star who is so willing to be human.”
Throughout Limitless with Hemsworth, we are taught the science behind a range of biological processes that govern our health and are shown how we can essentially train our bodies to maximize longevity.
Each episode focuses on a different concept — such as how to cope with stress, or how fasting can affect our long-term health — which is accompanied by an extreme challenge that Hemsworth has to overcome.
Many of the scientific studies and theories touched on in the series are extremely complex in their undiluted form. However, Aronofsky and the rest of the team behind Limitless with Hemsworth did an excellent job of making the impenetrable understandable, and were often aided in this task by charming animations styled after old fashioned pop-up science textbooks.
I think science is actually really amazing when it’s taught by a great teacher.
“That’s what I like to do,” Aronofsky explains. “I think science is actually really amazing when it’s taught by a great teacher. I had that experience and I was blessed with great teachers when I was a kid, and I wanted to try to find similar teachers to help get the science out into the world in ways that would thrill people and get people super excited by science.”
In each episode, there were a number of usable life hacks — such as the ‘box breathing technique’ used by firefighters to help keep calm in high-pressure situations — that could be implemented by the viewers in their everyday lives.
“It's an interesting show because it's very entertaining, but there’s also a lot of really good knowledge that people can find useful,” comments the director.
However, most of the extreme episodic challenges and experiences that Hemsworth was tasked with overcoming — which the viewers aren’t necessarily encouraged to recreate — carried with them their own very real dangers.

"The Arctic Swim Was the Real Deal"


Arguably the most perilous of these can be found in the season's second installment, in which Hemsworth is challenged to swim the hazardous, near frozen waters of an Arctic fjord.
“The Arctic swim was the real deal. I was there, and… as he was pulling it off I was incredibly nervous, and I remember when he actually pulled it off I was jumping for joy, because I felt he had to swim 200 yards into a headwind in true open Arctic water. It was a real challenge and anything could have gone wrong there.
Of course, Hemsworth wasn’t simply placed on the shoreline and pointed in the direction of the wet cold. In each episode he was given training in how to cope with whatever modern-day herculean task was at hand, and aided in the preparation by a team of experts and friends.
There were also stringent safety measures in place to protect the Marvel actor. In the case of the Arctic swim the team had boats standing by ready to pluck Hemsworth from the water should his body give up to the freezing temperatures midway through his swim, and medical services on standby. However, even with measures such as these, there remained a very real danger.
Anytime you’re pushing yourself really far, something terrible can happen.
“Anytime you’re pushing yourself really far, something terrible can happen, but we were really careful in trying to make sure that Chris was of course gonna be safe. But you know you never know. You never know.”
Incredibly, the icy plunge wasn’t the challenge that Hemsworth struggled with the most. At one point in the documentary series, the actor was asked to take on a gruelling four-day fast, during which he could consume nothing but water. This, according to Aronofsky, was the task that Hemsworth had the most trouble with.
“Probably very few people out there on the planet have on purpose, fasted for four days. And anyone who's gone a few hours missing a meal can get an inkling of how rough that might be. But the four days was, I think probably the thing that might have scared Chris the most.”
Judging by Aronofsky’s comments in the interview, we may not see Hemsworth return for a second series, though the director seems to have some unannounced projects cooking away with the actor that they are not yet ready to reveal.
“Well I hope to do many, many things with Chris over my life. I think Chris is probably Limitless-ed out at this point, and we have some ideas of how to do something in a new and different way but we haven’t announced it yet so I can’t really talk about it.”
When talking about a hypothetical second season of the show, IGN lightheartedly commented on the potential of filming an episode in orbit, to which Aronofsky replied, “I would love to go to space more than anything in the world, so I am totally game.”
Whilst in reality the prohibitive cost of orbital tourism makes this an unlikely prospect, the continuing democratisation of near-Earth space could make such a reality feasible in the coming years and decades.
Limitless with Chris Hemsworth is available now on Disney+

Anthony Wood is a freelancer writer at IGN.
This story originally appeared on: IGN - Author:Anthony Wood

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