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It's hammer time again for the mighty Chris

Big movie premieres are a little like a travelling circus, with the clowns and star attractions mugging it up for the masses. And that was certainly the case when Marvel's Avengers Assemble held its European premiere last Thursday evening at London's Westfield Centre.

With eight of the movie's lead actors in town, there was plenty of star power around. It was interesting to see how the different celebrities dealt with the baying and -- after almost two hours of pomp and high-fives -- restless crowd.

Prodigal son Robert Downey Jr took it all in his stride, while Scarlett Johansson warily tried to laugh off all the usual sexbomb questions. Watching smart actors such as Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner and Tom Hiddleston attempt their best quarterback-who-just-won-the-finals impressions was hilarious, while veteran Clark Gregg and relative newcomer Cobie Smulders were clearly just delighted to make it to the subs' bench.

The man who had the biggest weight of expectation on his shoulders, though, was Chris Hemsworth, the Aussie hunk who broke through last year with Thor.

According to US film industry analysts Fandango, Avengers Assemble is the most eagerly awaited movie among young men now, while the Marvel film hit the number two spot for women, with Snow White And The Huntsman in pole position -- which also stars Chris Hemsworth.

Not that he seems bothered. And a glance at the large bulge his wife of four months Elsa Patakay was carrying as she joined her hubby on the red carpet on Thursday night gives you the reason why.

"The baby's due any day now," says Hemsworth, when I met up with him at London's Claridge's Hotel. "So all this, it's kind of just white noise to me. My time is spent reading baby books and, right now, my mind is simply on Elsa, and the baby."

I distract him with talk of his $300m movie. Was there a point in last year's six-month shoot when he knew Avengers Assemble was going to be kick-ass?

"You don't know, do you?" says the 28-year-old actor. "You know you have a great script and you know you have a great director, but, until all the pieces of the jigsaw are up there on the screen, you can never really know.

"It's especially hard to tell when you're using so much special effects. The fight between Thor and The Hulk, for example -- Mark Ruffalo and I didn't do one scene together for that. That was Mark on a green stage, and me on one of the sets, and both of us just punching the air. It was ridiculous. It's incredibly satisfying to see it all come together. 'Oh, wow, I was fighting The Hulk!'."



turbulence

With the third instalment of the X-Men movies having reportedly hit turbulence as the various stars squabbled over their characters' screen time, there was always a grave danger that the ego clashes that Joss Whedon shows on-screen with Avengers Assemble could have happened off-screen too. According to Hemsworth, that wasn't an issue.

"I think it might have been had the script been weak," he says. "If Robert, or Scarlett, or whoever, had been given a weak role, I could see how they might kick up a fuss, but this was a script that gave everyone some room to move, some space to prove their worth.

"It was funny and touching, and all those things you kind of pray for when it comes to a big action blockbuster. Because we know the mighty battle scenes will kind of look after themselves; it's actually caring about those involved in the battle that makes for a great movie."

Avengers Assemble is in cinemas now


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