Drew Goddard doesn’t write for actors, but the moment he finished Bad Times at the El Royale, his story about seven people colliding in a sketchy motel, he reached out to Chris Hemsworth.
Hemsworth, who appeared in Goddard’s directorial debut Cabin in the Woods just after his first turn as Thor, agreed to play the most dangerous character in “Bad Times,” a charismatic, would-be cult leader.
The writer-director spoke to Variety about reuniting with Hemsworth, the pleasure of working with Cynthia Erivo and Lewis Pullman, and the future of his X-Force project.
How did you find Louis Pullman? He’ll be pretty new to many audiences, and he’s as surprising and impressive as [Cynthia] Erivo.
He was another one where I just had a very specific thing I was looking for. [His character, the El Royale employee] Miles is integral to the story, and we needed someone that can take the audience on a real journey, in terms of emotional performance. So it was one of those good old-fashioned casting searches. After meeting with lots and lots and lots of actors, Lewis came in and you just felt that immediately. The last time that happened, quite honestly, was when Chris Hemsworth walked in for “Cabin in the Woods.” You’re just looking for actors who inherently fit the role — and then also transcend the role. Louis had that sort of magic.
Can you just text from Chris Hemsworth now and say, “Hey, I got an idea. Do you want to talk?”
[Laughs] We have a very healthy relationship, that’s for sure. We’re very fond of one another.
Hemsworth plays a Charles Manson-type character, what interests you about a figure like that?
For me, it was all about finding something different for Chris. Chris got cast in “Thor” in the middle of [making] “Cabin in the Woods,” so I got to see this young actor just launched into the stratosphere. It’s been really fun to see how he has grown and changed, and yet, how he has also stayed exactly the same. He’s still the same wonderful, hardworking, emotional performer that I met almost a decade ago. I knew that it was time for him to do something different. I was excited to write something that would give him a chance to explore darker territory. And I think he was probably eager to get to play something that is a little left of center from the sort of stuff he usually plays. So it very much came together as we created this character of Billy Lee.
Is it fair to say that writing something for Chris was one of the primary starting points for the script?
The truth is, I don’t really think about actors when I’m writing, but every time I finish a script I look at it and the first thing I think is, “OK, who could Chris play?” When I’m writing I try to only think about the characters. But once I finished, he’s definitely one of the first people I called. I just love working with him so much.
Read the full interview at www.variety.com