The Australian actor, who is 39 years old, got two copies of the gene ApoE4 from both of his parents. He found out about this when he took tests for his Disney+ documentary series Limitless.
Hemsworth told Vanity Fair in an interview that those tests confirmed his “biggest fear.” They showed that he is one of only 2% to 3% of people who are up to 10 times more likely to get the disease than people who don’t have both copies of the gene.
Hemsworth told Vanity Fair, “It’s not like I quit,” but he did say that working on the show, in which he tests his body and looks for ways to live longer and healthier, “really made me want to take some time off.”
“If you look at Alzheimer’s prevention, the benefit of taking preventative steps is that it affects the rest of your life,” he said. “It’s all about managing sleep, stress, food, movement, and fitness. It’s mostly the same tools that need to be used in the same way every time.”
He clarified that this was not a diagnosis: “It’s not a gene that makes everything certain, but it’s a strong sign. I think people thought of it as more important ten years ago.”
The actor said that Darren Aronofsky, who made the documentary series, and Peter Attia, one of the doctors on the show, talked about how the diagnosis would be shown. At first, the plan was for the actor to get all of his genetic test results live on camera. But when they got the results, Aronofsky told the actor privately.
After that, Hemsworth was given the option of removing all references to Alzheimer’s from the show, but he said he thought it was important to include the fact that he was genetically more likely to get the brain disease that gets worse over time. He wanted his audience to become more aware of and understand how to take “preventative steps.”
He told Vanity Fair, “My main concern was that I didn’t want to manipulate it, make it too dramatic, or try to get people to feel sympathy or whatever for entertainment.”
Hemsworth also told the magazine that his grandfather is being treated for Alzheimer’s at the moment.
Hemsworth has a part in the new Mad Max movie Furiosa, which just finished filming earlier this month. He said that he planned to take a break from acting after he finished his other contracted work and the publicity tour for Limitless.
He will go home to Byron Bay to spend time with his partner, actress Elsa Pataky, and the couple’s three children. “I’ll have a lot of time off and just take things easy. Be with my wife and my kids.”
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