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Liam Hemsworth: A Force of Nature

The actor, surfer, environmentalist, and hardcore pullup-and-burpee addict sounds off on dating, his transformational new diet, and what life will bring with Katniss Everdeen in the rearview mirror.
Eric Ray Davidson

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It's a rare day off at home for Liam Hemsworth.

The 25-year-old star of The Hunger Games franchise—which wraps up its four-year, $2 billion run with the fourth and final installment, Mockingjay—Part 2, this month—is certainly keeping himself busy as he preps for life once the saga of Katniss Everdeen and Gale Hawthorne is behind him. In September he played a ripped young athlete who beds Oscar-winner Kate Winslet in the drama The Dressmaker, and he’s just laced up Will Smith’s old alien-ass-kicking shoes for next year’s Independence Day: Resurgence, the sequel to the 1996 end-of-world blockbuster.

But today? Today is about relaxation. In fact, it’s so chill that Hemsworth, a lifelong surfer raised among the towering swells of Australia, is currently resisting the waves of his beloved Malibu beaches, which lie just a five-iron down the road from his home. So we weren’t surprised when he told us he wasn’t hitting the weights today. What did come as a surprise, though, is that this very ripped dude says he never hits the weights. He also says he’s gone vegan—and, in the process, has persuaded his meat-loving superhero big brother, Chris, to eat more veggies. He also speaks openly about his own hardcore fitness routine (the guy’s a pullup machine), his high-profile ex-fiancée (Miley Cyrus), and the new love of his life (Miss Piggy). Oh, wait—did we mention the part about LSD?

Maybe it’s a good thing Liam Hemsworth doesn’t have days off very often.

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MF: You’re a carnivore who recently adopted a vegan diet. What ultimately made you decide to do that?

LH: My own health, and after all the information I gathered about the mistreatment of animals, I couldn’t continue to eat meat. The more I was aware of, the harder and harder it was to do. About six months ago I went and saw a nutritionist to do a blood-diet analysis. He basically told me, based on my blood type and all the other different little tests they do, that red meat was good for me, and I should eat a lot more red meat and various other foods. So I started doing that, and the more red meat I ate, the worse I felt. At the same time, I have a lot of friends who are vegan. [Hunger Games co-star] Woody Harrelson was actually one of the original reasons I became vegan, because he’s been vegan for, I don’t know, 30 years or something. So, with the facts I was gathering, and then just how I was physically feeling, I felt like I had to do something different, so I adopted this vegan-diet lifestyle. It’s been almost five months now.

It seems to be working for you.

I constantly get questions like, “How do you get your protein?” and “How do you feel?” And most of the people who ask you this are not healthy people. It always makes me so confused, because I’m like, “What are you eating? Whatever you’re eating, it’s not right…” But there are no negatives to eating like this. I feel nothing but positive, mentally and physically. I love it. I feel like it also has a kind of a domino effect on the rest of my life.

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Do you get crap from your superhero brother for skipping the steak at the family barbecue?

Chris is obviously extremely healthy and has played Thor and has had to work out a lot over the past few years. But he has a lot of digestive issues, and he’s constantly trying to figure out what’s best for his system. Through talking to me, he’s somewhat adapting, I think, to eating more vegetables and more plant-based stuff. 

Do you ever still get cravings for things? Like In-N-Out Burger or fried foods?

No, and you know what? I honestly thought I would. I never get cravings for meat. The less I eat meat, the harder it is to imagine eating it. I get cravings for cheese, though. Every time I’d go to New York, one of my favorite things to do was to go and eat a bunch of pizza. I’ve had cheese pizza, like, once in the past four months. It was in New York, and it was in the first few weeks of being vegan. I was with some friends, and we’d had a couple of beers—you walk around and there’s pizza everywhere, and it’s like, “Ah, God, I’ve gotta have a slice!”

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You have a new rescue dog. How’s she treating you?

She’s awesome. I got her about a year ago. She’s the perfect dog. I’m a big advocate of pet rescue. Especially in California. If you’re going to get a dog, get a rescue.

How are your dog-naming abilities?

This one’s called Tani. And when I first named her, I went up to one of my friend’s houses, and the first thing she said was, “Oh, cool, what’d you name her?” I’m like, “Tani.” She’s like, “Ah, is she a stripper?” And I said, “What do you mean? I’ve never heard of a stripper named Tani!” Have you ever met a stripper named Tani?

I can’t say I have! When you last spoke with Men’s Fitness, you said you didn’t lift weights—you had a sort of “the world is my gym” workout philosophy. But it looks like some weights may have made their way into your life at some point since then. Like, in The Dressmaker, you’re pretty jacked.

In all honesty, I rarely do weight work. I don’t bench-press or anything like that. And especially over the past five months of being vegan, all my stuff is really high-intensity body-weight workouts like burpees and pushups and pullups and dips. I do a lot of pullups every day, and that’s where I get a lot of my strength from. And then burpees. Burpees are good for burning fat and really getting your heart rate up. You do 20 minutes or something of burpees, pushups, pullups, and dips, and that’s your whole body. 

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Do you still box?

I haven’t for a while. I broke my arm earlier this year, which hasn’t caused me too many problems, but I stopped boxing because of that and haven’t really picked it back up. I’ve just been doing more of those body-weight workouts. But boxing’s one of the best workouts you can do. When you’re consistently boxing—I don’t mean fighting, but just doing the training—you mentally feel so strong and good. 

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You’re passionate about surfing. How does surfing in L.A. compare with surfing back home?

I grew up surfing and surfed competitively until I was 18. Surfing’s my favorite thing to do in the world. I’d rather do that than anything. If I could travel around the world and surf for a living, I would. The surf in L.A. can be really good, though most of the time here in California the swell is pretty small and it’s supercrowded because so many people surf. It constantly blows my mind when I turn up at the beach and, you know, there’s a two-foot surf and about a million people out there. That just wouldn’t happen where I grew up. We always had consistent swells, but about one-seventieth the crowd.

The Hunger Games chapter of your life is coming to a close this month with Mockingjay—Part 2. Given all the press you’ve done and the exposure you’ve had through it—a period that includes your split with Miley Cyrus [in 2013]—do you ever look back on some of your decisions and some of the things you’ve said, and cringe?

Oh, definitely. Nothing specifically, but yes. When you get thrown into this industry at a young age, you’re gonna say some stupid shit. Absolutely. It’s impossible not to. Everyone does it. But you learn from it, and you learn from it quickly. You become a lot more mindful of what you say and how you say it.

A couple of years ago you were still taking a lot of questions about being engaged to Miley. Right now, your life and your approach to celebrity couldn’t seem further from hers. Does it feel like you’ve dodged a bullet at this point?

You fall in love with who you fall in love with; you can never choose. I guess some people just come with a little more baggage. [Laughs.] I mean, look—we were together five years, so I don’t think those feelings will ever change. And that’s good because that proves to me that it was real. It wasn’t just a fling. It really was an important part of my life and always will be. She’s a free spirit. I think she’ll always surprise people with what she does, but she’s not a malicious person in any way. She’s a young girl who wants to do what she wants to do.

Back to The Hunger Games. By the third movie in the franchise, last year’s Mockingjay—Part 1, it was clear your role as Gale was getting much bigger. How does that carry into the last movie?

The movies are always played through the eyes of Katniss [Jennifer Lawrence]. But this last one is more of an ensemble, I would say. There’s this squad that gets sent into the Capitol—which is me, Jennifer, Josh [Hutcherson], and then a few other people—and most of the film is centered around us. I’d say it’s the most fast-paced and action-packed film out of all of them. It feels like you’re in the middle of a battle the whole time. Part 1 was more talking about what was going to happen. Now it feels like you’re in the middle of the battle the whole time. It’s really fun.

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What can we expect from Independence Day: Resurgence?

Hopefully, a really great film. I had the opportunity to work with Roland Emmerich [Independence Day, The Patriot, White House Down]—I’ve been a fan of his since the first one. He kind of pioneered this world-ending genre. I also got to work with Jeff [Goldblum], and it was a lot of fun. It’s that sort of moment, your first step on set, and you’re looking at spaceships and things like that. I look back to when I was 6 or 7 years old and watching Independence Day on VHS, and now we’re doing a second one—it’s really crazy.

Is there one role so far that you’re most proud of?

I recently did an episode on The Muppets! I could honestly say that that might be my favorite of all the jobs I’ve done. I want to go back and just shoot The Muppets the rest of my life. It was such a trip. It was just so funny to be staring at puppets and seriously talking to them. They don’t break character during a take. Like, if they mess up a line, they’ll just keep going in character. I’m not buying the fact that they’re Muppets. I’m seriously talking to them like they’re people. And the whole time I was really trying not to laugh, because it was just so hilarious. 

I enjoyed your Instagram post announcing your dalliance with Miss Piggy. 

Yeah, it’s a great chance to show a different side of me. I’m really not a serious guy. I feel like I’m a pretty positive influence on a lot of people in my life, and I try to be healthy and try to help the world as much as I can. I’m a complete goofball—I’m not at all a cool guy. My brothers used to call me “Diplodocus,” which is a large dinosaur. A large slow-moving dinosaur. 

This summer you drew some negative attention when it looked like you got angry at a reporter on the Comic-Con red carpet for calling you by your brother Chris’ name. What happened?

I was not even the slightest bit angry about that! It’s happened before, and it doesn’t even make me mad. All I was saying was, “Did you call me Chris?” Because you even watch the clip online and it sounds like he says, “Hey, Chris,” and he said, “Hey, I’m Chris.” I wasn’t angry. But whatever site picked it up made such a big deal about it. That was really upsetting, because I really wasn’t angry, and they made me seem like I’d blown up at this reporter, which I really hadn’t. I just thought he’d called me Chris, which has happened before. I might have had a slightly angry look on my face, but that’s just my face sometimes. 

Is dating or even just trying to take someone on a date pretty difficult at this stage in your career?

Yeah, dating’s really difficult. I’m constantly traveling, and I don’t go out to clubs or anything like that. I have a great small group of friends in my life, but I barely ever meet anyone new. It’s tough to have a relationship in this industry, though not to the point where it makes me depressed. I’m constantly working, and I love working. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything at this point—I feel like I’m focusing on the right things and prioritizing things in the right way, and I’m a healthy, happy person.

During an interview earlier this year, you surprised your publicist by pulling out a guitar and being able to play it. Any other hidden talents we don’t know about? 

I do a lot of painting. That’s how I spend a lot of my downtime, painting. I always loved art in high school; it’s like doing meditation or something. You just let yourself go for a while and focus on the moment at hand, and you can stop worrying about everything in your life. I also think that the more you stare at different color combinations, the more it makes you think differently in the rest of your life. Like, if you’re driving around and you see certain colors mixed together, you’re like, “Ah, that’s cool. Maybe I’ll try that!”

I guess that’s why people like doing acid. 

I was about to say, “Maybe I’ll do some acid next time, then see how the colors mix up!”

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