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What Chris Hemsworth was like before all the fame

Before joining Marvel's The Avengers as Thor the God of Thunder, Australian hunk Chris Hemsworth had to work his way up from scrapping with his brothers to starring in soap operas and bit parts until he caught his big break as the hammer-wielding hero in Marvel's blockbuster cinematic universe—which wasn't easy considering his biggest competition was his own brother. Since proving himself worthy, Hemsworth has taken Hollywood by storm—not too shabby for a kid who just wanted to surf all day. Keep reading for more.

He practically lived in the ocean

Hemsworth grew up in Melbourne, Australia, where—as he later told USA Todayhe spent more time in the water than on land. He can easily rattle off his top favorite beaches where he learned to surf, explored the ocean, and basically lived in "kid heaven." In fact, after making it big in Hollywood, Hemsworth moved his wife Elsa Pataky and their three children back to Australia, so the kids could explore the outback and the same beaches.

"There is a very social, outdoor, active sort of energy in Australia," he said. "Anywhere you go in the country, it's the same across the board. We like to have a good time. It's infectious. I go home and say I'm going to stay home and next thing you know, your friends are calling you up and you're out and about."

The Thor star also has fond memories of growing up with two brothers—even if their childhood antics sound more like Fight Club than Hallmark moments.

Sibling rivalry in the Hemsworth house was intense

While appearing on The Graham Norton Show (via Daily Mail), Hemsworth's brother and fellow actor Liam recalled fighting with the Thor star when they were younger.

"Our childhood rivalry was a bit vicious—a bit like The Hunger Games," Liam said. "We had a few incidents with weapons."

He wasn't joking. "One day when I was about five we had a fight in the kitchen about using the toaster, or something, and I picked up a kitchen knife and threw it at his head and the handle hit him in the forehead." Liam said before boasting about his knife-tossing skills as a young tyke. "I could have hit him with the other end if I'd wanted to. It was just a warning shot!" How generous.

He wanted to be a fashion designer

Somewhat surprisingly given his rugged Hollywood image, Hemsworth had a knack for sewing as a young kid.

"I think it's because I couldn't afford any cool clothes, so I was like, 'I'm gonna make them myself,'" he told W Magazine. "I remember doing cross stitch and for whatever reason, anything for me as a kid, I had a lot of trouble kind of focusing on one task and sitting still. I was pretty active. But anything really detailed where I had to sort of physically and mentally be involved and anything could hold my attention was a big plus for my parents, in particular. For some reason, cross stitch was one that I enjoyed."

Hemsworth's interest in sewing faded when he tried unsuccessfully to make his own pants, but the experience set him on the path to his future career. "I had a different idea every week of what I wanted to do professionally," he recalled. "I'd see movies and be inspired by things. I guess that's why acting fits, because I get to pretend to be all those things with no great amount of risk or effort."

He was a soap opera star

Hemsworth and his younger brother Liam were the first to find success in Hollywood. But it was actually their oldest brother Luke who found stardom earliest, in Australia. After landing a role on the soap opera Neighbours in 2001, Luke quickly grew disillusioned with acting and started his own flooring business where his younger brothers often worked, according to Page Six.

It wouldn't be long until Chris followed in Luke's footsteps. In 2004, he landed a role on the popular soap opera Home and Away, which led to heartthrob status Down Under—not to mention winning industry awards. But it wasn't without some awkward moments for the future Marvel star.

He competed on Dancing With The Stars Australia

While starring on Home and Away, Hemsworth competed on Dancing With The Stars Australia in 2006. It's a tidbit from his past that the actor doesn't normally bring up, but during an appearance on The Tonight Show in 2013, Jay Leno surprised him with a clip from his dancing competition days.

"He lasted seven weeks on the Australian version of Dancing With the Stars," The TODAY Show reported. "And while most of his stateside fans missed out on watching his paso doble and tango too, Tonight Show host Jay Leno made sure they got a glimpse of the action Monday night. The audience clapped eagerly before the clip rolled, but Hemsworth assured them, 'Nothing to cheer about, that dancing.'"

But just a few years later, Hemsworth would land his first break in Hollywood playing the father of the most famous space captain of them all.

He played Captain Kirk's dad

In 2007, Hemsworth left Home and Away—and Australia—to pursue an acting career in Hollywood. It didn't take long before he landed a role in major blockbuster. The Thor hunk made his big-screen debut in the 2009 reboot of Star Trek, which featured Hemsworth playing Captain Kirk's father in an intensely emotional opening scene.

But despite that fast break, Hemsworth almost quit acting and moved back to Australia shortly after Star Trek. Even though he was turning heads, the roles weren't exactly pouring in. "I had a sort of nine-month period of nothing to the point where I was calling my parents. I was ready to pack it in and come home," he told Access Hollywood. "It was like, 'This is killing me.'"

It probably didn't help that Hemsworth and his brother Liam still had a penchant for fighting. Only now they weren't keeping it in the family.

He was a bit of a brawler

Just a few months after Star Trek hit theaters, the two youngest Hemsworth brothers made headlines after they allegedly got in a full-fledged fistfight at a Hollywood event.

Describing an altercation that erupted after some "late-night smack talk" with an apparently "random" stranger, TMZ reported a "two-on-one brawl." Fortunately, security broke it up before the cops were called, and no one faced any charges. It was an unfortunate move on Hemsworth's part that could've cost him his Hollywood career just as it started, but as luck would have it, he ended up signing three movie deals right on top of each other—including a horror picture written by a director who'd soon make his own splash in the Marvel Universe.

Joss Whedon encouraged him to audition for Thor

In 2009, Hemsworth filmed Cabin in the Woods, a horror movie written by Joss Whedon, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator who'd later go on to direct Marvel's The Avengers. Cabin didn't see the light of day until 2012 thanks to financial troubles at the studio, but while it isn't one of Hemsworth's most commercially successful films, it helped him make an important connection. He was encouraged by Whedon to re-audition for Thor, which had begun casting in 2009—and Hemsworth had already been rejected. But not his brother Liam.

"I came into the audition with Kenneth Branagh and thought I nailed it and then never heard anything back," he told W Magazine. "Months went by and then my brother, my little brother, Liam, was in Australia and sent a tape across and he got a call back, then another call back and then was down to the last kind of four or five people for it. I remember sitting in Vancouver, shooting Cabin in the Woods with [director] Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon. Both of them were looking at the trades at this sort of top five guys for Thor and saying, 'Why aren't you in the mix here? What happened?' I said, 'I don't know. I blew my audition, I guess.' None of those guys got it."

After a supportive phone call from Whedon to Branagh, Hemsworth was back in the mix. And the rest was almost history—but first, he needed a little help from mom.

His mom helped him impress Kenneth Branagh

After getting back on Branagh's radar, Hemsworth knew he needed a killer audition tape, and he pulled it off thanks to his mom. "I was on the 17th floor of a hotel in Vancouver with my mom reading the lines to me," he told The Hollywood Reporter, "and something great must have happened. It got me back in the room."

"We did two or three interview sessions before we tested him," Branagh said. "We pretty much knew as we were shooting the test that he was the guy. It seemed, across these meetings, he had grown into it. He understood it better. And crucially, he was at ease."

Having his mom help him land his biggest role must've been a special moment for Hemsworth. Especially considering he started acting to help out his parents after watching them struggle for years to make ends meet.

"We grew up with very little money and that kind of frustrated me as a kid listening to my parents talk about bills every week and sort of seeing the sort of weight that put on them," he told W Magazine. "I thought, 'That's it. I'm gonna make money and pay off their house.' So I thought, 'I'll be an actor,' and very naively kind of ran into that world and started auditioning."

He went a tad overboard packing on muscle

After landing the coveted role of the God of Thunder, Hemsworth threw himself into preparing for the role and quickly realized he needed to get bigger. Which he did, but apparently there's such a thing as too big.

"[The filmmakers] kept saying 'Yeah, get as big as you can, as big as you can," he told the Los Angeles Times. "And then I came back right before Christmas, just before we started the movie, and had a final sort of camera test and put the costume on and within a couple of minutes, my hands started going numb. And everyone was like, 'Yeah, that's not cool.' And I started getting pins and needles and you'd touch the skin and the blood wouldn't return to that area so quick. And I thought, 'OK, it doesn't fit.'"

According to the Times, his Thor costume was altered, but director Branagh told the bulked-up actor to "pull back" on packing on the muscles. Although you wouldn't know it from watching the movie.

He made a remake of Red Dawn

In 2012, a year after the success of Thor, Hemsworth appeared in a remake of the 1980s classic Red Dawn. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 13 percent, the movie wasn't the greatest. It also seemed like an odd follow-up for Hemsworth—and that's because it really wasn't. During the dry spell after his turn in Star Trek, Hemsworth signed on to Red Dawn three days before landing Thor. Just like Cabin in the Woods, the movie was shot before his Marvel days, yet released after his success as the God of Thunder.

"During shooting, I didn't have any clue there would be problems," he told MTV. "And then afterwards, I heard there was a holdup and they were having some delays, and now it's kind of a Benjamin Button thing. As my films come out, I get younger and less experienced."