Life without limits

Published March 7, 2023

Poster for Limitless with Chris Hemsworth, featuring Chris in a runner’s starting pose facing the camera

In 2021, Disney+ released a television special with Chris Hemsworth, where the Australian actor met and travelled with some experts to understand sharks in more detail - their nature, the threat they actually are compared to the image of them and, more importantly, the growing threat we pose to them.

At first I couldn’t quite make sense of this show and the casting decision, but then I remembered that these streaming services are completely obsessed with sharks for reasons I have yet to understand, and then Hemsworth being part of the Marvel universe would have those Disney links in place. So I gave it a watch and actually it was pretty good. Hemsworth maybe wasn’t a natural presenter but he was likeable and interested and, you know, he’s pretty easy on the eye.

Fast forward a year and Hemsworth has a full series on Disney+, this time focusing on various areas that might help to extend his life. Hemsworth is clearly very, very fit and healthy, but even with that there are things he can do to push the body and extend his life. Pushing the body is key, here, as each episode gives Chris a ridiculous challenge that highlights and works on the area in question, but is also pretty terrifying for everyone involved.

In an effort to talk about how staying calm and reducing stress can lengthen your life, Hemsworth is tasked with walking out on a crane hundreds of metres high, despite a fear of heights. In an effort to show that fasting (controversial but the science is growing) can be beneficial, he’s given the task of four days without food, only broken by being able to catch his own fish for supper on the fourth day.

I thought these episodes were really eye-opening and interesting. By the end, Chris is usually won over by the experts and the experience and details how he will try and introduce elements of these training features into his own daily life. Easier to do when you’ve got a Hollywood lifestyle, I’m sure, but even small changes can help improve health and wellbeing.

The series ends with a slightly different style episode that I actually didn’t like so much. It focuses on accepting that aging will happen and death will come - and even though the point of this episode is to shine a light on what is an uncomfortable topic, I really found it very difficult to watch. He talked to people who had found new leases of life as they got older, but also those who knew that getting older was a gift and that cancer would probably mean they wouldn’t have the luxury. Very tough stuff.

Last episode aside, though, this was a beautifully shot, fascinating series that highlighted areas that I hadn’t necessarily thought about. They pushed it to the extremes but that has made it stick in my mind more than a regular run-of-the-mill ‘scientist says do this’ show, so I’d call that a success.

It’s not clear if Hemsworth will do more of these non-fiction series’, and if he did, what direction he would go in. Sharks, done. Health, done. What’s next?

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