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EXCLUSIVE: Thor: Love and Thunder stars Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman are "thankful" they worked with Taika Waititi

''He's so talented and brings so much fun and mischief to everything.''

By Tamara Cullen and Laura Masia
Superheroes can save the world, but when it comes to matters of the heart, they're just like us: a little bit awkward.
In Thor: Love And Thunder, the task of defeating bad guys gets a little tricky for Thor (Chris Hemsworth) when his former girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) returns.
Suddenly, the God Of Thunder isn't the powerful being we know, but a man who's still in love with his ex, but pretending he isn't.
What can Thor wield now that Jane has the mighty hammer? (Image: Marvel Studios)
The latest Marvel film picks up shortly after 2019's Avengers: Endgame. Thor has decided to retire the enchanted war hammer Mjølnir and join the Guardians Of The Galaxy team on their intergalactic adventures, much to the annoyance of leader Peter Quill (Chris Pratt).
Yet Thor's longing to find inner peace isn't as easy as he hoped when a new foe emerges: Gorr The God Butcher (Christian Bale) is on a vendetta to destroy him and his loved ones – including Jane, who now holds the power to wield Mjølnir.
While their future as a couple remains in question, it all hinges on whether they make it out of this fight alive.
Natalie loved her return to the Thor franchise. (Image: Getty)
For Natalie, the chance for Jane to enjoy some hammer time was reason enough to return to the series.
"It's exciting to see her get in on the action," Natalie, 41, tells TV WEEK. "And to work with [director] Taika Waititi. He's so talented and brings so much fun and mischief to everything."
Known for her role as Padme in the global mega-franchise Star Wars, the Oscar-winning actress adds that the Marvel universe is "so much bigger".
"There's a similar love for the stories and characters [across the two franchises]," she says. "I'm so lucky to be involved in both and experience the passion people have for both."
With Love And Thunder the fourth film in the Thor standalone series, Chris says the importance of getting the script right continues to build.
"Of course, I feel the pressure anytime I make any film – especially a Marvel film, where you have fans built in, not just since the Marvel films have been made, but the comic books from 50 or 60 years ago," Chris, 38, says. "But I'm thankful to the incredible producers, writers and directors."
Unlike the first two films, which focused on the world-ending drama, 2017's Thor: Ragnarok and Thor: Love And Thunder have taken a lighter approach. The comedic reinvention has been a huge success with fans and is, in large part, due to the vision of Taika.
"Since Thor: Ragnarok, Taika reinspired the world and the characters and keeps the audience on their toes – he insists on doing something different," Chris says. "It [the storyline] has to be unique, otherwise the fans are going to go, 'No thanks – onto something else.'"
The New Zealand-born director has cleverly woven humour throughout the life-or-death plot and by doing so, has given fans reason to return to the cinema. The diabolical characters may start the fight, but the witty remarks win the war for crowd appeal.
Taika, 46, says it comes down to chemistry and playfulness on set.
Star Chris and director Taika attend a special screening in Sydney. (Image: Getty)
"We always shoot the entire script," he explains. "In a scene, we shoot what's written and then we get to play and try different things just in case there's something we've missed, or there's a better version. Chris is incredible at improvising and we often get way better stuff."
Among the Marvel favourites, such as Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, keep your eyes peeled for cameos by Matt Damon, Sam Neill, Russell Crowe, Melissa McCarthy and Chris' brother Luke.
Production took place at Sydney's Fox Studios during the global pandemic. Taika believes it was the best possible location to be.
"I have to really thank Australia and Sydney, because this was the easiest place to make the film," he says. "If we were anywhere else in the world, it would have been almost impossible. We never got shut down and never had to delay the filming, because the protocols that were in place at the time worked. When you follow those protocols, you get to go to work. It's fantastic."

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