Liam Hemsworth: 'I want him to be Han Solo...a smart-ass'
Australian actor Liam Hemsworth says his fighter pilot character in Independence Day sequel is 'a real human being' who 'messes up'
Liam Hemsworth was just six years old when he watched Hollywood superstar Will Smith punch an alien in Roland Emmerich's 1996 sci-fi disaster epic Independence Day.
Twenty years later, the Australian actor wallops his own extraterrestrial in the alien invasion blockbuster's sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence (IDR), which opens here tomorrow.
Playing smart-talking US fighter pilot Jake Morrison, Hemsworth said the original scene left an impression.
The 26-year-old confessed to preferring to watch movies over playing outdoors as a kid. He told M at the Park Hyatt Sydney hotel in Australia of his memory of the film: "I was like, 'My God it's an alien'. I'd never seen anything like that at the time."
Hemsworth shares top billing with returning star Jeff Goldblum in IDR. It is set 20 years after the first film, which ended with the annihilation of half of Earth's population.
He leads a cast of newcomers who are trying to defend our planet from a second, more vicious alien attack.
Of his character, Hemsworth said: "I wanted to make him a real human being, self-deprecating and making mistakes.
"I just didn't want to be this cool fighter pilot who was going to save the world.
"I wanted him to be Han Solo (of the Star Wars movies) in that way, where he messes up all the time.
"He's a smart-ass. All these things make him more likeable and interesting."
Hemsworth, who is best known for portraying Gale Hawthorne in The Hunger Games franchise, has consistently been on the radar with his big-screen roles in action flicks like The Expendables 2, Paranoia and Empire State.
But he was also in the spotlight for his on-off relationship with US singer-actress Miley Cyrus, 23, who he met on the set of 2010 romantic drama The Last Song.
The couple got engaged in 2012, broke up a year later and were rumoured to be engaged again earlier this year.
Questions about Cyrus were off-limits for our interview and he was curt in his reply about the rivalry between him and his older (and arguably more famous) brother Chris Hemsworth, 32, of Thor fame.
He said: "We are brothers and we are both actors but (comparison) is not something I worry about.
"I can't control it, so it doesn't bother me."
Perhaps IDR could be the film that finally takes him out of his brother's shadow.
After all, Independence Day catapulted Smith to movie stardom, broke box office records and was the highest grossing film of 1996.
Smith had been in talks with German director Emmerich, 60, about a follow-up for years but was eventually unable to join the cast because he was "too expensive" and had other work commitments, according to reports.
Nonetheless, Emmerich expressed confidence that Hemsworth and the new cast, which includes Chinese actress Angelababy, will attract a new audience.
He said new technology to create a visual effects spectacle was one of the reasons why he made IDR despite being "not big on sequels".
He added: "It made my career and I was asked (for) years and years and years to do a sequel."
Hemsworth said he was sold on Emmerich's vision for the film.
As his character was not flying a conventional fighter jet, he did not need to go through flight training.
Hemsworth, who became a vegan to get in shape for the part, described the challenges of shooting the flying scenes: "You are sitting in a seat and then you have to make the scene come alive.
"The writers were on their mics and they would just yell at us all day long and guide us on each scene and turn.
"They would yell it, and you would react to that, which in the beginning was scary and really difficult."
He added: "I've done a lot of visual effects films. The flying stuff (in IDR) was a lot different from anything I've done before... and with this film, it's go big with everything. You can't be subtle.
"To have the chance to work with Roland, Jeff and everyone surrounding it is a huge opportunity for me."
I wanted him to be Han Solo (of the Star Wars movies) in that way, where he messes up all the time. He's a smart-ass. All these things make him more likeable and interesting.
- Liam Hemsworth on his character in Independence Day: Resurgence