Hemsworth relished the change of pace and the new challenges. "It was incredibly satisfying to be on a much more intimate set, focused on the truth of a scene, as opposed to 'Now swing on a wire and smash the bad guy with your ax,'" he says. "The fear, the newness," Hemsworth continues, snapping his fingers excitedly, "is what keeps you on your game."

Having almost finished off the beer in the villa, we've relocated a few miles down the beach to a little surf bar that overlooks a famous point break. Hemsworth jokes about trying to figure out what to do with a visiting journalist in this idyllic place of refuge for him. His publicist suggested a hike.

"A hike?" he says in mock horror. "What is it, a date? Are we supposed to make out at the end of it?"

We settle for another round of Bintangs. Of course, no one notices the actor because everyone on this beach is tall, blond, and Australian. Hemsworth talks about coming to the beaches of Padang Padang as a kid. When he and Pataky decided to marry in 2010 after knowing each other for less than a year (the guy moves fast), they chose Sumba, a couple of islands over, and tied the knot . . . when?

"Uh, I should know the answer to this. There's a bit of a dispute . . ."

Long story somewhat shortened: A little group of friends and family descended on Sumba, and it was such a laid-back couple of weeks that no one can agree on when the actual ceremony took place. The ring his wife gave him is engraved with a date, but Hemsworth is pretty sure it was a couple of days later. "So yeah, answer about the date of my wedding: somewhere in December."

I ask Hemsworth whether he's reached a point where he can step back and see the arc of his career as the great, unlikely success it is. He knows he's lucky and doesn't want to sound ungrateful.

"There's a brief payout, and then the bar shifts again," he says, hesitating a bit. "I think that's human nature. It keeps you moving forward, but it needs to be tempered a bit, too. I've been working solidly for a couple of years now, to the point where I have to slow down and spend some time with my family."

Even now he worries that if he takes his foot off the pedal, in six months maybe no one will be calling. "You spend so long having your hand up, saying, 'C'mon, c'mon—pick me!,' there's a fear of saying no to things. It's bred into you. I get shit sent to me and I think, 'I should probably just take this.' But now I try to say, 'Hold on—do you even like it?' I do have a little control now. That's the transition—I'm not at the mercy of someone else so much."

Hemsworth takes a long swig of beer and adds with a laugh, "And that is just as scary as it is liberating."

His wife and daughter and pals are back at the villa packing up, and I'm starting to feel a bit guilty about occupying the prime afternoon hours of a rare weekend break. It's almost time for Hemsworth to fly back to the set in Jakarta, time to leave Dreamland for a few months of constant, grueling work.

I ask him about the fear. Is it really something he feels even now, when he's here, on the cusp or the apex or the summit or whatever it is you call getting exactly what you've always wanted—with all the plaudits and possibilities and perils that come with it?

"Of course," he says. "The fear is: 'Am I gonna be found out? Am I any good?' The preparation is something I do obsessively, because the fear of being caught out is the worst for me."

But there's more to it. Hemsworth's also afraid he won't be found out, that all the hard work he puts in is entirely unnecessary, and that he has something of a charmed existence. He's trying to listen to friends who tell him to relax and take more weekends like this, minus my intrusion. "But I'm like, 'No, no, no.' The fear is: Why did it happen so quickly? Then you go, 'What's the catch?'"

• • •


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