Australian transplant and Hollywood action star Chris Hemsworth is so much more than a pretty face. Beyond the beauty and the brawn are also the makings of a damn good actor. Though Hemsworth’s career is only beginning— seeing as he only hit the mainstream feature film circuit with his debut in 2009’s Star Trek—he’s been on a steady rise to fame ever since.
From helming quieter biopics like Rush and In the Heart of the Sea or finessing, fighting, and fleeing the law in action movies like Extraction and Red Dawn, to starring in pop-culture behemoths like Thor and The Avengers, it’s clear Hemsworth is a multi-hyphenate threat.
In celebration and awe of his colorful and varied career, we figured it was a perfect time to take a look at some of his best work thus now that he's decided to take a break from acting.
The Best Chris Hemsworth Movies
7. Star Trek (2009)
Before transforming himself into the handsome hammer-wielding Prince of Asgard that we know and love today, Hemsworth kickstarted his acting career as the courageously hot space dad, George T. Kirk. Though his leadership and voyaging on the USS Starship Kelvin didn’t last longer than 10-minutes onscreen, he packed quite the sentimental punch for the audience and left behind an unintentional bundle of long-lasting daddy issues for his newborn son James T. Kirk. Under the direction of J.J. Abrams, who likes his action movies laced with heartfelt moments, Hemsworth was able to successfully meld the complex emotions of love, fear, and bravery to create a performance so good that people are still talking about it over 10 years later.
Read our review of Star Trek.
6. In The Heart of the Sea (2015)
Where to watch: Rentable on Amazon Prime Video and most platforms.
Though Hemsworth is mostly known for blockbuster action movies, he’s not afraid to showcase his range every now and then in the occasional biopic. In the Heart of the Sea showcases Hemsworth’s innate charm and subtlety in his role as Owen Chase, a humble whaler with a taste for adventure and infamy. If you never thought of Hemsworth as the swash-buckling pirate type, think again. This film marks not only the second biographical drama for Hemsworth but also his second collaboration with Ron Howard, after the Formula One biopic Rush. It also marks the first movie featuring Hemsworth and Tom Holland, who would again team up three years later for Avengers: Infinity War.
Read our review of In the Heart of the Sea.
5. Blackhat (2015)
Where to watch: Netflix, rentable on most platforms.
Any movie that wants to make the audience believe that Hemsworth is an ultra-buff cyberhacker trying to take down crime syndicates is a winner in my book, and I do mean that sincerely. Though the film is an action-packed thriller, this role is unlike anything he’s done before or since. Hemsworth plays a prolific hacker who was sent to prison after being charged with redistributing wealth (read: stealing) money from five US banks to average everyday citizens. After a big cyber attack threatens national security, he’s released on the condition that he helps the FBI find the culprit. Hemsworth is dodging bullets, throwing punches, and writing computer code like a boss. Though Men in Black: International wasn’t widely received, you can see the beginnings of his swagger and technological savvy crop up in this film.
Read our review of Blackhat.
4. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Where to watch: Stream on Max, or rentable on most platforms.
One thing Hemsworth is going to do is take the lead and steal the show. So, it’s no surprise that he ended up purposefully typecast as the stereotypical jock and group leader in the Drew Goddard dark comedy horror movie The Cabin in the Woods. This movie is all-around good fun, but what makes it a special entry on this list is that it’s an early showcase of Hemsworth's comedic delivery that shines in later films like Thor: Ragnarok.
Read our review of The Cabin in the Woods.
3. Extraction (2020)
Where to watch: Netflix
This political action thriller penned by the Russo Brothers centers around Hemsworth playing a dangerous mercenary who somehow maintains a heart of gold while protecting a teen with a large bounty on his head. Extraction is a high-octane, adrenaline junkie’s dream movie. Between the sweeping kicks, gun fights, and tightly choreographed punches it’s clear that Hemsworth is in his peak Jean-Claude Van Damme era. This film also required some phenomenal stunt work from Hemsworth on and off-screen. Director Sam Hargrave told Men’s Health that Hemsworth managed to hold his breath for nearly 3-minutes during the filming of a cliff diving stunt. Hemsworth also shared his intense workout regimen on Instagram to show how he altered his Thor bod. With such hard work and dedication put into this, it’s no wonder there’s a sequel on the way. You can check out our list of the best action movies on Netflix for more like this.
Read our review of Extraction.
2. Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)
Where to watch: Freevee, rentable on most platforms.
In another collaboration with director-writer Drew Goddard, Hemsworth shows off his talents to be both funny, dramatically over-the-top, and unhinged. Here he plays a handsome, southern cult leader named Billy Lee, who wanders into the El Royale motel to cause psychological mischief and dastardly mayhem. In one of the most chilling and best scenes in the movie, Billy ties up the other El Royale guests, then treats himself to a creepy solo dance to “Hush” by Deep Purple while sporting a half-opened rumpled shirt, disheveled hair, and a plate of pie in hand.
It’s interesting to note that aside from Star Trek, the beginning of his career also saw him play smaller roles in horror films like A Perfect Getaway and the aforementioned The Cabin in the Woods, so it shouldn’t be surprising that he’s good at playing off-kilter characters despite having so few of those roles. Give us a more spooky villain, Hemsworth, dang it!
Read our review of Bad Times at the El Royale.
1. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Where to watch: Disney+, rentable on most platforms
No Chris Hemsworth movie list is complete without including his adventures as the hammer-wielding God and Earth’s Strongest Avenger, Thor Odinson. The first two films in his solo franchise cast Thor as the slightly too self-serious and selfish Prince of Asgard. Though the character was well-received in the Avengers franchise, most moviegoers were less receptive after the critical panning of Thor: Dark World. However, when director Takia Waititi stepped in to direct the third installment, the Thor franchise got a second chance at life. Under the direction of the delightfully wacky Waititi, Hemsworth was allowed to express a wider range of emotions and utilize his knack for great comedic timing. Even though Ragnarok marked Hemsworth’s sixth appearance as the boisterous hero, his fresh new take and demeanor have made the movies more fun than ever.
Read our review of Thor: Ragnarok.
It's not easy ranking his movies, so let us know which of your favs didn't make the list. And, make sure to keep an eye out for the upcoming Marvel Movies as announcements are made.
MORE: Marvel movies in order.
Destiny Jackson is a freelance entertainment journalist. She delights in writing about Film, TV, Black culture, and travel. You can follow her on Twitter (@destinydreadful). She apologizes in advance.