I don’t know what it is about fandom today that you have to have “Team X vs. Team Y” debates about everything from TwilightÂ to The Hunger GamesÂ to brothers ChrisÂ and Liam Hemsworth. That’s right, there are the whispers of having to choose between these two equally talented, equally cute Australian brothers, because them coexisting in Hollywood and inhabiting different spheres of geek and mainstream movie roles would just be so boring.
With Chris’ superhero epic The AvengersÂ coming to theaters May 4, when Liam’sÂ The Hunger GamesÂ will likely still be playing, it’s no surprise that the media is looking at a box office battle between the two men. It adds some texture that Chris, 28, is part of the established MarvelÂ franchise while 22-year-old Liam and the unexpected phenomenon of TheÂ Hunger GamesÂ both come across as upstarts.
But it stops being fun when the press makes things personal. USA Today reported on last week’s AvengersÂ press tour, where Chris’ co-star Robert Downey Jr.Â cheekily teased him about gearing up for some major sibling rivalry:
Robert:Â ”Don’t you feel that Liam is trying to take over your box office universe? Doesn’t he need to be corrected in some way?”
Chris:Â ”There’s a special race at the box office. He’s got a few bruises, currently, from me.” [laughs]
Obviously this is all in good fun, but the fact that we even have to make the joke just makes things a tad uncomfortable. Sure, in some photos the two look almost identical despite the age difference. Sure, they’re both in major geek-but-mainstream roles: Liam playing Gale Hawthorne for the next few years in Catching FireÂ and Mockingjay, Chris starring in Joss Whedon‘s meta horror film The Cabin in the Woods. But the truth is, you have two brothers who genuinely support one another despite being up for similar roles.
The story that always sticks with me was learning that Chris wasn’t even on the shortlist to play ThorÂ originallyâ€”Liam was. Chris “wasn’t in top form” (in his words) when he met director Kenneth Branagh, but when Branagh decided to reevaluate prior candidates, Liam — then one of four actors being considered for the role — gave his older brother tips based on his own auditions. It would have been easy for Liam to say “tough shit” and try to nab the role for himself, but instead he helped his brother get one of his first big roles.
And it obviously paid off: If Liam had played Thor, he would have been shooting The AvengersÂ while The Hunger GamesÂ went up and would have had to lose the role of Gale. (Some say that’s why Downey Jr. didn’t play Haymitch, which was one of my dream roles for him.) So can we nip this “Team Liam vs. Team Chris” debate in the bud? Because even though Chris tells outlets, “We’re competitive, but in the best way,” we should let them have their joking rivalry and not blow it out of proportion.
Now, Gale vs. Thor, that’s a whole different deal.
Photo: Vanity Fair