You may know Chris Hemsworth best as Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But the 34-year-old Aussie is hanging up the God of Thunder's cape to to take a spin playing a real-life hero in the upcoming Warner Bros. drama 12 Strong.
Helmed by Danish director Nicolai Fuglsig and adapted from Doug Stanton's non-fiction book Horse Soldiers, 12 Strong tells the story of the immediate responders in Afghanistan following the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. Hemsworth plays Captain Mitch Nelson, a character inspired by Mark Nutsch, a commander of a 12-man Green Beret team who went after the Taliban.
Check out an exclusive first look at Hemsworth in the film below:
Hemsworth has wanted to tell the story of Mitch and his team for years, having read different iterations of writer Ted Tally and Peter Craig's script but previously unable to actually film the movie due to scheduling issues. "I love the story. It's a story I didn't know about," he said. "And then [I] read the book and was fascinated by the fact that it was a true story. And one that I think a lot of people are unaware of. But the aesthetic of this film, you know, we haven't seen horsemen or cavalry charges since the WWI. And so to have modern warfare and weaponry and armor on horseback. I think is visually pretty stunning and unique."
12 Strong picks up by showing the events of September 11 unfold, with Hemsworth's Mitch at home watching the attacks with his family on TV. Cut forward three weeks from there, and he's a captain leading a Special Forces team in Afghanistan, attempting to take down the Taliban.
Check out an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of 12 Strong below:
"This was an opportunity to show Americans working with the Afghan people to fight the common enemy," Hemsworth said. "We had a lot of people on set come up to us from Afghanistan and say thank you, they were saying thank you for telling a story that shows the world that we're not all terrorists. And I think there's a real levity about that particular issue at the moment around the world. So I think it's a great opportunity to show people that look, there's a whole country there, a population of people who are fighting for their freedom, the same as Americans or Australians or Westerners, due to the threat of the Taliban and Al Qaeda."
Though he's best known for his work in the genre space, this isn't Hemsworth's first time portraying a real-life person. In 2015, he starred as 19th century whaler Owen Chase in In the Heart of the Sea, and portrayed '70s Formula One racer James Hunt in Rush. Of preparing to take on this role, Hemsworth said, "I spoke to a few of the [real-life soldiers] and took a lot from all of them. I didn't want to kind of mimic anyone in particular. ... The one thing that stood out for me, from a lot of these guys, was they all had such a great respect for the Afghan people and the brotherhood they formed with the Northern Alliance guys that we're fighting alongside. And the importance of this particular mission and also importance of the presence America had in Afghanistan at the time and how we changed the whole country for that time."
12 Strong also stars Michael Shannon, William Fichtner, Taylor Sheridan, Michael Peña, Rob Riggle and Elsa Pataky. hits theaters on January 18th. Following that, you can find Hemsworth reprising his role as Thor in May 4's Avengers: Infinity War.
Terri Schwartz is Editorial Manager of Entertainment at IGN. Talk to her on Twitter at @Terri_Schwartz.