Chris Hemsworth has had a mental shift.
While working on his new docuseries, National Geographic's Limitless with Chris Hemsworth, the 39-year-old underwent genetic testing and learned he has a greater chance of developing Alzheimer's disease.
The series features Hemsworth pushing his body's limits to beat stress, maximize performance and fight back aging. In the fifth episode, "Memory," a doctor tells Hemsworth he has two copies of the gene APOE4, which is linked to an increased risk of the disease, the actor revealed in an interview with Vanity Fair.
"They took all my bloodwork and did a bunch of tests and the plan was to on-camera tell me all the results and then talk about how you can improve this and that," Hemsworth told the outlet.
"And Peter Attia, who is the longevity doctor in that episode, and overseeing a lot of the show, called [show creator] Darren [Aronofsky] and said, 'I don't want to tell him this on camera. We need to have an off-side conversation and see if he even wants this to be in the show.' It was pretty shocking because he called me up and he told me."
The tests revealed the star of Thor and Extraction is eight to 10 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's in the future.
"The show, which initially was an exploration of longevity and, of course, should be fun, became even more relevant and important for me, even more poignant than I ever thought it would be," Hemsorth told Vanity Fair. "It was a really good catalyst to dive into everything I needed to be doing in either the prevention front or the management front or however you want to classify it. It's not a pre-deterministic gene, but it is a strong indication."
In fact, his grandfather also has Alzheimer's, so learning about his own genes wasn't a total shock.
"My concern was I just didn't want to manipulate it and overdramatize it, and make it into some sort of hokey grab at empathy, or whatever, for entertainment," said Hemsworth, who shares twin sons Sasha and Tristan, 8, and daughter India, 10, with wife Elsa Pataky. "It's not like I've been handed my resignation."
Hemsworth took it as an opportunity to make positive changes. Known for his physique — the secrets to which he shares through his wellness app Centr — he's long been a proponent of living a healthy lifestyle. His recent health news only reiterated the importance of keeping it up.
"If you look at Alzheimer's prevention, the benefit of preventative steps is that it affects the rest of your life. When you have preposition to cardiovascular heart disease, cancer, anything—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."
And although he feels grateful to have this knowledge and can reduce his risk and think carefully about the future, Hemsworth says that learning the news has had a psychological and emotional impact.
"Yeah, there was an intensity to navigating it. Most of us, we like to avoid speaking about death in the hope that we'll somehow avoid it. We all have this belief that we'll figure it out. Then to all of a sudden be told some big indicators are actually pointing to this as the route which is going to happen, the reality of it sinks in. Your own mortality."
All episodes of Limitless with Chris Hemsworth are available on Disney+.