Whether he's taking on the role of Thor, the God of Thunder, in a wide variety of Marvel superhero films (most recently Thor Ragnarok), the great white whale of In the Heart of the Sea, computer hackers in Badhat, the Ghostbusters in the recent remake; or the Taliban in his latest film, 12 Strong, Chris Hemsworth has proven himself to be one of Hollywood's most popular leading men. His co-stars have ranged from Kristen Stewart to….the Incredible Hulk.

And now he's showing a different side to himself, serving as the leader of the first team sent to Afghanistan following the events of 9/11. "The film starts with the Towers being hit and the chaos that follows," says Chris, "and the uncertainty or the anxiety that erupted around the world and around America. We start with my character at home with his family seeing it on TV like a lot of the world did. Basically it goes to three weeks from there, where the Special Forces team that I'm the captain of lands in Afghanistan. They're the first boots on the ground, and we're the response to the 9/11 attack."

Born in Melbourne, Australia, Chris is the second of three acting Hemsworth siblings: Older brother Luke and younger brother Liam, best known for playing Gale in the Hunger Games films. Growing up, Chris says, "We didn’t own a TV, so we’d read a lot of books — fantasy novels, stuff like that. It was all about us using our imaginations, as opposed to just watching TV — which is kind of what I create now, so it’s a funny irony. There was a sense of adventure instilled in us, and we loved storytelling."

With three years on Australian soap Home And Away (which led to an appearance on the Aussie version of Dancing With The Stars) behind him, Chris relocated to Hollywood in 2007 and soon made his big-screen debut in the Star Trek movie reboot, playing the small but critical role of Captain Kirk's father. He next popped up as a red-herring character in 2009's enjoyably twisty thriller A Perfect Getaway, and then … for almost a year, nothing.

"I couldn't get hired," he recalls. "I couldn't get a job."

Obviously that changed, as proven by the following movie guide, which includes more on 12 Strong.