Chris Hemsworth makes for a solid horseman as Capt. Mitch Nelson, leading his troops into modern battle equine-style in 12 Strong.
But there was the time shooting the action-drama opening Jan. 19 (which dropped a new horse-filled trailer Wednesday) that Hemsworth started an out-of-control horse ride with his cast.
"Yeah, I’ll take complete blame for that one," says Hemsworth, currently starring as his short-haired demigod in Thor: Ragnarok.
Hemsworth has made it clear that some of the actors in the 12 Strong ensemble — which includes Michael Peña, Trevante Rhodes and Michael Shannon — were not great horsemen.
That's fine since 12 Strong depicts the true story of modern Green Berets, the first soldiers in Afghanistan after 9/11, who find the only way they can thwart the Taliban in a key battle is by traveling horseback through the mountainous region.
Doug Stanton's 2009 best-selling historical account Horse Soldiers, on which the movie is based, showed that some of the real soldiers needed rudimentary horse lessons. Like, these are reins.
For some of the actors, being bad riders was good.
"We didn’t need to look like the best horsemen, but rough, dirty and unpredictable," says Hemsworth. "And that’s how it felt most days."
But during one key shot, Hemsworth went inspirational. While director Nicolai Fuglsig urged caution with controlled riding, Hemsworth felt that the scene was a "a little lame and a little weak." It needed something else.
"I kept saying to the other guys, 'Come on, I think we’re going to have to get the horses into a gallop just to look a little more impressive,' " Hemsworth recalls. "And everyone was like, 'Yeah, let’s do it!' "
So Hemsworth, who is fond of riding with his wife Elsa Pataky, kicked his lead horse into a gallop. The rest was chaos.
"The horses just went off. They were completely out of our control," says Hemsworth. "One of the boys fell off and luckily landed in a big pile of sand off to the side."
The actors brought the horses under control without further incident. But the crew was not happy.
"They were all yelling, 'Whose idea was that?' " says Hemsworth. "I nervously kind of raised my hand and said, 'Yup, my bad.' "
But the apology didn't last for long.
"I very quickly asked, 'Did we get the shot?' Which they did," says Hemsworth. "But some of us suffered for our art."