Chris Hemsworth has a Disney+ documentary series called Limitless, in which he “test[s] his body and explore ways to live longer and healthier.” As part of the series, he underwent some genetic tests, and he was originally supposed to receive the results live on camera. However, when production received the results revealing that Chris has a heightened risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, series creator Darren Aronofsky told him privately instead. Chris said the news made him want to take time off from acting, and he’ll do so after completing his promotional duties for Limitless.
Actor Chris Hemsworth says he is taking a break from acting after learning he has a heightened risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The Thor star made the discovery after undergoing tests as part of his Disney+ documentary series Limitless.
He told Vanity Fair the tests confirmed his “biggest fear”, adding he will now be trying to take “preventative steps”.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and can cause memory problems, confusion and communication issues.
Hemsworth learned that he has two copies of the gene ApoE4, one from his mother and one from his father, making him between eight and 10 times more likely to develop the disease than those without both copies of the gene.
About 2 to 3 per cent of the population carries two copies of the gene.
“It’s not like I’ve been handed my resignation,” Hemsworth said, but added the news “really triggered something in me to want to take some time off”.
“If you look at Alzheimer’s prevention, the benefit of preventative steps is that it affects the rest of your life,” he said.
“It’s all about sleep management, stress management, nutrition, movement, fitness. It’s all kind of the same tools that need to be applied in a consistent way.”
He explained that he had not been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, but had been warned of the heightened risk. “It’s not a pre-deterministic gene, but it is a strong indication,” he said. “Ten years ago, I think it was more thought of as determinant.”
Hemsworth said the original plan for the series would have seen him receive all his genetic test results live to camera – but series creator Darren Aronofsky told him privately once they got the results.
The Marvel star was subsequently given the option of removing any references to Alzheimer’s from the show, but decided to include his genetic risk of Alzheimer’s to improve awareness and understanding.
“My concern was I just didn’t want to manipulate it and over-dramatise it, and make it into some sort of hokey grab at empathy or whatever for entertainment,” he said.
Hemsworth also confirmed to the magazine his grandfather has also been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Chris is going to head home to Australia to be with his wife, Elsa Pataky, and their three kids. He hasn’t said anything about the length of his break, but it seems like he’ll take as long as possible before he has to do promo or film for something else he has scheduled (he just finished filming on the Mad Max sequel). Maybe Chris wasn’t completely shocked since his grandfather has Alzheimer’s and it is genetic, but that still must be incredibly jarring news to have confirmed. And to find out through something work-related, no less. Production, of course, did the right thing by telling him privately. And they gave Chris the option to omit it from the show, but he chose to include it anyway to increase awareness. It certainly would have been his right to keep that medical information private, especially since it was new to him and he likely didn’t have much time to process it, but it is admirable that he’s sharing in the hopes of educating others, especially about the preventative steps. I wasn’t aware of the preventative steps until reading this article. It’s good that Chris is taking time off to reflect and relax and spend time with family. I imagine he’s regrouping a bit as well, as this might be something that affects the choice and pacing of his projects going forward.
photos credit: ROGER WONG/INSTARimages.com/Cover Images, Getty and via Instagram