Check Your Health

Why Chris Hemsworth’s Alzheimer’s Risk Pushed Him To Take Time Off Work

While working on National Geographic's 'Limitless,' Chris Hemsworth learned a lot about himself, including his risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Originally Published: 
Chris Hemsworth as seen on LIMITLESS, standing in an icy environment.
National Geographic for Disney+/Craig Parry

What would you do if you heard that you have a ten times greater chance than average of developing a disease that could strip you of everything you know? For Chris Hemsworth, the answer was simple: slow down and focus on what really matters to him — his family. The actor recently shared that, following a genetic screening that flagged his "biggest fear," he's taking time away from acting.

According to Vanity Fair, Hemsworth learned a lot about himself while working on National Geographic's Limitless, a docuseries that investigates the natural decline that comes with getting older and how to push back on the impact of aging.

As part of his investigations for the series, Hemsworth underwent an extensive genetic test, a tool that provides a glimpse into potential health issues down the road. Not expecting anything to come out from the battery of genetic tests, the plan was for Hemsworth to meet with a doctor to go over the results. But when his results came back, the doctor asked to speak with Hemsworth off-camera first.

In the end, Hemsworth chose to share the testing results within the docuseries, which showed he inherited the APOE4 gene from both of his parents. According to Vanity Fair, this means that Hemsworth could be as much as ten times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than the average person.

"There was an intensity to navigating it," Hemsworth told Vanity Fair of the results of his genetic testing. "Most of us, we like to avoid speaking about death in the hope that we'll somehow avoid it. We all have this belief that we'll figure it out. Then to all of a sudden be told some big indicators are actually pointing to this as the route which is going to happen, the reality of it sinks in," he continued.

Hemsworth says he's taking a step back from work — not forever, but for now — so he can focus on managing his risks and maintaining his physical and mental health. And for him, that means spending more time with his wife, Elsa Pataky, and their three kids.

"It really triggered something in me to want to take some time off," he said. "I'm going home, and I'm going to have a good chunk of time off and just simplify. Be with the kids, be with my wife."

Hemsworth reiterates that although he learned his risk of developing Alzheimer's disease is high, it's not a guarantee or a death sentence.

"It’s not like I’ve been handed my resignation, and this is what it is — and it’s up in a few months,” he said. “It’s not quite that situation, thankfully.”

National Geographic's Limitless is available to stream now on Disney+.

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