Chris Hemsworth Hopes to ‘Do Away With Some Myths’ in ‘Shark Beach’ on Nat Geo

Chris Hemsworth in Shark Beach on National Geographic
National Geographic/Craig Parry

In the hourlong SharkFest special Shark Beach With Chris Hemsworth, the actor and environmentalist best known as hammer-wielding superhero Thor in Marvel’s Avengers franchise investigates an alarming increase in attacks near where he lives and the beaches he surfs in eastern Australia.

“The opportunity came up to explore the why of that, [study] ways to coexist safely and do away with some myths,” Hemsworth says, noting that rising water temperatures are bringing sharks closer to shore. He tells us more.

Where does your love for sharks and the ocean come from?

Chris Hemsworth: I started surfing when I was 6. The ocean gives me such joy. It’s my place of grounding any time I feel out of balance. I was lucky to have parents who [gave me] a real understanding that the oceans’ health relies very much on the shark. It’s the apex predator; without them, the ripple effect is devastating. If our oceans don’t survive, then the planet doesn’t survive.

You learned to scuba dive for this special. One of your first dives is with legendary shark researcher Valerie Taylor (now 85 and the subject of the documentary Playing With Sharks, Friday, July 23, Disney+). What was that like?

The first time I saw the nurse sharks, they looked vicious with big, glaring, sharp teeth. But Valerie – a wonderful force with infectious, lovable charisma — said they’re not mad at us, that’s a misconception, and to just stay very still and be present. We almost meditated. I sat in awe.

Shark Beach with Chris Hemsworth

(Credit: National Geographic)

Valerie seems a bit in awe of you too.

We had a good connection.

From a boat, you help scientists tag a great white so an alert will be sent when it’s near shore. Were you nervous?

I found such beauty in the animal. I’m aware of what they can do, but I’m far more intimidated by what can happen to me driving a car or walking across the street.

There’s a rumor the next Thor movie involves space sharks. What would Thor do if he met a shark?

[Laughs] I’ve heard the rumor as well. I’m sure if he could coexist in a peaceful manner, that would be his preference.

Shark Beach With Chris Hemsworth, Premieres Monday, July 5, 9/8c, National Geographic 

This is an excerpt from TV Guide Magazine’s latest cover story. For more of the thrilling, shark-filled fun, pick up the Shark Frenzy! issue, on newsstands Thursday, July 1.