Extraction has been Chris Hemsworth's most intense shoot yet
He describes exhausting days and cheering audiences on the set of Extraction
If there were dancing girls and a story with a sense of humour, the new Netflix movie Extraction starring Chris Hemsworth could well be a Bollywood one.
There is the requisite very bad villain twirling metaphorical mustachios and a very good hero in invisible cape and tights.
Hemsworth plays a world-weary mercenary tasked with rescuing a crime lord's son (Rudhraksh Jaiswal) who has been kidnapped by a rival and spirited out of India to Bangladesh. The extraction happens early on, but the double crosses and complications come thick and fast, and the body count grows exponentially.
What redeems Extraction - which is streaming on Netflix - are the action scenes, no surprise since it is helmed by stuntman coordinator-turned-director Sam Hargrave, who worked on the Avengers films.
Rounding up the Avengers reunion is the fact that it is produced by Anthony and Joe Russo, who directed the Avengers and Captain America films.
Extraction is on its way to becoming Netflix's biggest film premiere with a projected 90 million households, and the film's writer Joe Russo is slated to script its sequel.
The piece de resistance is a 12-minute sequence edited to look like one long take, and the truly amazing thing is that the film-makers tamed the city of Ahmedabad to get it done.
For those unfamiliar with Indian cities and their chaotic sprawl, throngs of people and undisciplined traffic, this feat is nothing short of herculean on the part of the local crew hired to smooth the way.
Hemsworth was on teleconference last month for this interview from his home in Byron Bay in New South Wales, Australia, where he is under lockdown.
With regard to the effort and creativity put into the action scenes, the 36-year-old Australian actor said: "I know Sam had been setting those shots for six months in preparation. I came in pretty late and had two or three weeks of choreography.
"That means when I arrived in India, we got down straight to it and there wasn't a moment spared doing rehearsals. Even while I was shooting, in particular that 'oner' sequence, we would be rehearsing that scene, shooting that, and then also on the side, in-between set-ups, rehearsing tomorrow's scene or the next one. That was pretty solid for two or three months.
"I had never done this kind of physicality that was required in this. I had never been asked so much. And I loved it. It was exhausting but so satisfying, and I am thankful for it."
He said he was more recognised in Ahmedabad than probably any other place in the world.
Hemsworth recalled: "Avengers: Infinity War had just come out and it was consumed endlessly over there. So we would leave the hotel in the morning and have 15, 20 motorbikes and trucks following us, chasing us down the street. And then we would get to the set and hundreds, thousands of people watching day-to-day and cheering at the end of every take, and it was sort of like performing in the Colosseum or something.
"And I got to say, it added an energy to the movie and a support that we couldn't have got anywhere else. The people were so enthusiastic and kind to us. We were concerned about the disruption we were causing with what we were shooting, but people loved the street show they were given each day. I have such fond memories of the people and the experience."
However, there was no time for sightseeing.
"I arrived and it was straight to rehearsals, and we would shoot all day long on the streets. On the weekends was more rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal. It was the most intense shoot I have ever been a part of."
There is plenty of downtime for Hemsworth now, but he has his hands full with trying to homeschool his eight-year-old daughter and six-year-old twin sons with his Spanish actress-wife Elsa Pataky.
"Most of that time is chewed up with negotiation to do the schoolwork," he said with a laugh.
"They wake up at six, they go to bed at eight and it is non-stop that whole time. I keep getting sent scripts and books, and people say, 'Oh look, during your downtime, try and do this or that.' But my kids are keeping me pretty busy, I don't have a whole lot of downtime.
"There is an added pressure with coming up with fun ways to entertain them because they crave hanging out with their friends, more so I think than adults. It is something that they are missing a lot."
Hemsworth has also been binge-watching Netflix crime drama Ozark - and binge-eating.
"I ate my body weight in Easter eggs," he quipped.
And then there is the surfing.
"It is such a smaller population within this area, so there are beaches we can surf at. (But) I haven't been surfing a great deal just because of the same sort of cautionary feelings that everyone has at the moment... (and) distancing as much as possible."
He added: "I just need to be right here, right now, and take it day by day and not have too much expectation on what is to come and just appreciate every moment and stay positive."
The writer is the chair of the board of directors of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a non-profit organisation of entertainment journalists that also organises the annual Golden Globe Awards.
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