This article previously appeared on Crossfader
Luke Hemsworth looks older.
Of course, that’s partly because he is older, but even when you see him interviewed or on screen, it just feels like he HAS to have way more than three years on his hunky superhero brother Chris. But Luke Hemsworth also isn’t as conventionally attractive as his brothers—it’s both the answer to why he feels older, and also what makes him unquestionably the most interesting Hemsworth, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
For most people, it would take more than a quick Google search to answer “Who is Luke Hemsworth?,” but frankly, why would you know the answer to that in the first place? Luke putzed around Australian television for the first decade of his career before starring in wildly unseen movies for the next several years, including the Bruce Dern and Kris Kristofferson western HICKOK, which came out last year. The average person either A) doesn’t know he exists, or B) were thinking of the other “L” Hemsworth, Liam.
Live look at Luke Hemsworth searching a map for a way into America’s heart
Now if you leaned more towards option A, you’d be forgiven. Luke’s starturn in America has not gone well and, quite frankly, he deserves more than HBO’s WESTWORLD. The sci-fi western sensation gives him a juicy part as Ashley Stubbs (let’s ignore how terrible that name is), the park’s head of security whose loyalties to Westworld itself allow him to play into ambiguity as the show’s heel. But it’s a role that is minimized by a massive cast and frequent story arcs and timelines that don’t call for a shoot-first asshole mall cop, and while WESTWORLD would unquestionably benefit from having literally any character incite love or hatred out of its viewers, with season one, Luke stayed mostly in the background.
If you leaned more towards option B, though, we should establish something right here, right now: Liam is the worst Hemsworth. If Chris is the platonic ideal of a Hemsworth (he is), then Luke was (almost literally) version 1.0, a work in progress that is a great proof of concept but not quite there yet. With a face and body type that leans more towards mid-‘70s gruff leading man, all the things we’ve come to expect from Chris exist SOMEWHERE in Luke’s persona, just in rougher, less chiseled ways. But Liam? No. Liam is too smooth, too manicured, too engaged with Miley Cyrus, and too guy-who-would-sell-you-out-in-a-heist-movie-y. Hollywood execs decided we’d rather watch someone like Liam run around in a silly space sequel with Jeff Goldblum than Luke? GTFO.
Everything you need to know about Liam Hemsworth is in his dumb smirk
But how do we fix Luke Hemsworth’s career?
I’ll respond to that question with another question: Would a young Harrison Ford be a star today?
I think we can agree that the answer to that question is unequivocally no, and that’s not so much a comment on Ford’s talent as the way that Hollywood began embracing a different kind of leading man. You remember Harrison Ford, right? Kind of known as a grump now, can’t fly planes, wants to continue to ruin the Indiana Jones franchise, but also looked like this in his prime? That mid-‘70s gruff leading man aesthetic that ran amuck in actors like Tom Selleck and Robert Redford and Steve McQueen? Harrison Ford is the godfather of it, even if he’s not nearly pretty enough to be cast in INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE.
We’ve seen Hollywood try and trick us before. Bradley Cooper? Chris Pratt? Jake Gyllenhaal? Scott Eastwood? I guess, for some reason, Alden Ehrenreich? They’re all pale imitations of that quintessential Hollywood stardom, offering a captivating masculinity, maybe, but always too personable and beautiful. Ryan Gosling’s handsomeness isn’t comparable to Paul Newman’s because Newman has a kind of tired, worn-down charm and intensity to him and Gosling is, well, photoshopped. There’s nothing wrong with the Coopers and Pratts, per se, but they represent a turn that happened for leading men in the ‘90s that more closely resembles the star formula of Luke’s brother Chris, one that Brad Pitt perfected in that same decade as a GQ cover model: edgy, calm, and cool, but also very hunky and very self-aware. Frankly, there isn’t much room for a guy who has the energy and look of Luke Hemsworth to become an A-lister, because Brad Pitt killed the Harrison Fords of the world, and we haven’t quite recovered.
This piece is probably reading like “Old Man Yells At Cloud,” which perhaps it is. I’m certainly not alone in believing that Harrison Ford is an icon, and I’m not alone in wanting more Harrison Fords around—Gosling, despite his photoshopped nature, does a serviceable job emulating his coolness and swagger in BLADE RUNNER 2049, as does Oscar Isaac in the newer Star Wars films. And of course there’s Ehrenreich who, well, we’ll see. There’s clearly a place for that kind of energy on screen, even if its in movies that are blatantly Ford properties. But so frequently the actors of today are combinations of being too pretty, too cheeky, trying too hard, and giving too many fucks. I look at a list of the highest grossing movies of last year, and they don’t feature actors that capture that coolness or swagger (the unicorn Tom Hardy excluded). Don’t you wish when the Rock smiled in JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE it had a better mix of knowing judgement and playfulness behind it? Don’t you think if Pratt seemed just a bit more self-assured in anything he was doing in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOL. 2 the movie would actually succeed in objectifying his space pirate arrogance? Do any of the actors in JUSTICE LEAGUE make you feel a kind of warm safeness and culpability when they’re on screen? Does anyone in THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS have anything that resembles wry magnetism? These are things that Ford in his prime would’ve provided and he barely would’ve had to lift a finger.
But here’s Luke Hemsworth.
Here’s the first picture you see when you Google or Wikipedia him.
This is the look of a man who should be a star
He’s clearly tired from whichever Comic-Con panel that picture was taken during, but he’s a grizzled looking guy with a great jawline whose face has that perfect mix of aw-shucks charm and “I can be kind of dangerous when I need to be” badassness. He’s not photoshopped. And while he has only a small sample size doing it, I think he could be the next Harrison Ford.
Luke Hemsworth has some of that old fashioned rawness and grit to him. At least, in WESTWORLD he does. In WESTWORLD, Ashley Stubbs (for real, it’s such a bad name, guys) exhibits character traits out of the Harrison Ford playbook. He seems skeptical of Westworld’s technology and those that are in charge of it (Han Solo), shoots first and asks questions later (Indiana Jones), and is a bit flirty with Shannon Woodward’s character Elsie Hughes in a show mostly devoid of charm and flirt (let’s go with WORKING GIRL’s Jack). Like I said, it’s a good role that’s mostly wasted, but it showcases our need to see Luke’s rise to superstardom, because that seamless aw-shucks badassness is in short supply these days.
So let’s get him in more action-adventure roles. I know everyone wanted Nathan Fillion, but why can’t Luke Hemsworth play Nathan Drake in UNCHARTED. What about a superhero? Marvel has a slew of upcoming projects, let’s throw him into one alongside his brother. A rom-com? Let’s put that charm to the test. One of WESTWORLD’s most wasted assets needs to hit the reset button and come out of the gates swinging. After all, he’s not getting any younger.