Some of the most successful entrepreneurs have been born out of the fact that the companies they created were passion projects. Chris Hemsworth is a shining example of just how important emotional investment and belief are when you’re building and growing a company.
The actor might be known best as Marvel heavyweight Thor, but after recently selling his fitness app Centr, reported to be valued at more than US$200 million, Hemsworth’s clout in business is not to be underestimated. In fact, his earnings from his business ventures significantly dwarf those of his Hollywood career.
Hemsworth set up Centr as an expert-driven fitness, nutrition and mindfulness platform in 2019, and he was able to impressively build the value of the subscription app very quickly. It supplies daily planners, training programs, meal plans, nutritional guidance and guided meditations to build a strong body and mind.
HighPost Capital purchased the business in March 2022, at the same time as buying up fitness equipment maker Inspire, with the plan to combine the expertise of both. Hemsworth will continue to be deeply involved in all aspects of Centr, as the second-largest shareholder in the combined business.
Speaking about the takeover, Hemsworth highlighted how it would grow the company going forward. "I look forward to partnering with HighPost and Inspire to continue the success of Centr, inspire people to lead healthier and more active lives, and increase our strong subscriber base worldwide by developing outstanding new content and expanding our offerings," he said.
"Centr was created to provide people with carefully curated and integrated fitness, nutrition and mindfulness programs, guiding beginners and more experienced users in achieving their unique health and fitness goals."
Becoming a Hollywood Heavyweight
The concept for Centr – and also Hemsworth’s standing as an inspiration for people who want to be the best version of themselves – was born from his first passion, acting. Although he had always been celebrated as something of a heart-throb in his roles, landing the part of Thor in 2011 meant prepping his physique as well as his lines.
Through sheer hard work in the gym and dedication to his diet, Hemsworth managed to bulk up his body. And he has put in the hours to maintain this look through his movie franchise deal, which he recently extended for another three projects.
"Over the years if I looked at it, if I didn’t put in the work, if I didn’t get to this level for this character – particularly with Thor – I knew I was going to be disappointed walking onto that set and not feel as confident to perform and play that character," he said.
"There’s some real honesty and truth to looking at myself in the mirror and saying, ‘This is my goal, this is what I am after, I know I can achieve it, I’ve just got to put in the work.’"
His focus and drive, a key characteristic of many successful entrepreneurs, has served him well both on- and off-screen. His star power has certainly been boosted; he has gone from a reported US$150,000 or the first Thor film to upwards of US$15 million plus back-end royalties for his role as the God of Thunder, making him one of the highest-paid Marvel actors.
Outside the franchise he is also a highly sought-after actor. In 2019, Hemsworth was named Hollywood’s second-highest-paid actor with a salary of US$76.4 million for his roles in Avengers: Endgame and Men In Black: International.
His priorities remain the same with building his acting brand as they are when it comes to Centr: passion and family first.
"For a lot of the films I have done, I was trying to work out what an audience wanted and do they want to see me in this or that? I’ve now just tried to simplify it and go, ‘Does this speak to me in some way? Do I have something to say as this character? And will it be an enjoyable experience?’ If I’m going to be away from my family and my kids, it better be worth it," he said.
Finding the Perfect Fit
Before selling Centr, Hemsworth had already built quite the personal fortune and was estimated to be worth US$150 million. It’s thought that his endorsement deals with both TAG Heuer and Hugo Boss have come with seven-figure salaries.
There have doubtless been plenty more offers on the table but Hemsworth has remained true to himself and chosen those that resonate with his personal beliefs, too. Originally signed to promote the Hugo Boss fragrance range in 2017, Hemsworth now acts as a global ambassador for the clothing brand, with a sustainable clothing range on its way.
"Chris perfectly exemplifies the modern man of today: self-confident, authentic and approachable," company spokesperson and board member Yves Müller explains.
And for Hemsworth there was a personal connection: "I had Hugo Boss cologne given to me when I was, like, 16, by my mum. It was one of my first fragrances – and one of the few I’ve ever had."
His collaboration with TAG Heuer also came about quite naturally after CEO Jean-Claude Biver discovered Hemsworth was already a fan of the brand.
"They gifted me a watch during the shooting of [Rush], and then I purchased watches for the team as a thank you for wrapping the film, and Mr Biver heard about this [purchase] and thought I’d be a good fit, and we started an official relationship. I just loved their watches, so it started quite organically," Hemsworth said.
And Biver said signing Hemsworth was a no-brainer. "Chris is loyal to the brand and the perfect combination – great man, great father, a successful actor and Australian, which is an important market for us."
Working for Love not Money
Although Hemsworth has frequently talked about how he loves to push himself out of his comfort zone and really reach when making life choices, like a true entrepreneur, his relationship with his fortune can be a complex one.
"I did not want to be broke, like we’d been broke when we grew up. I wanted to take care of my parents and my family," he said. But now that he is wealthier than he probably ever thought he would be, he realises the importance of staying grounded – and extending that to his kids.
"I remember saving up for a surfboard when I was younger. The surfboard was 600 bucks and I saved up for a whole year with dad’s help. I didn’t even want to surf on it for fear of damaging it," he recalled. "It taught me so many lessons about appreciation and working hard for something.
"I don’t want them to feel like they’re privileged in any way. The fact that we have money and their parents are famous, that somehow they’re special, that scares me because we grew up with no money."
Certainly, he has been a hardworking patron of many charities and a philanthropist, his work recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2021, setting an example to his children in giving back. And although he could easily retire and lead a very happy life, at 39 he feels he has a lot left to achieve.
"I’m always motivated to be better – whether that be a better person or father, husband, friend, work colleague," he explains. "I think we all have that duty and obligation to never get too comfortable and just [ask], ‘What else can we give and do? What positive effect can we have on things?’ I guess that comes from my parents and my upbringing, but for whatever reason it’s always been there in my centre and I think that’s always kept me in check."
The fact that Hemsworth has a humble and approachable air only adds to his bankability. There is no doubt that, with his quiet drive and desire to prioritise his passions, we will be seeing a lot more from "Chris Hemsworth: Entrepreneur" in the future.
Celebs Becoming Successful Entrepreneurs
Jay-Z has used his diverse business portfolio to shore up his fortune and make him a billionaire. From his creation of Rocawear in 1999, the 40/40 Club bar chain, entertainment company Roc Nation, buying streaming platform Tidal and stakes in Armand de Brignac Champagne, the rapper has proven he has a business brain, as well as musical one.
Kate Hudson has been busy off-screen with a range of business interests that started when she co-founded activewear line Fabletics in 2013, which is now valued at US$500 million. In 2019, the actor launched HappyxNature, a clothing brand created from recycled fabric and plastic, and more recently she has diversified into beverages with King St Vodka.
Rihanna became the first citizen billionaire in Barbados this year, as her Fenty Beauty make-up brand and lingerie line Savage X Fenty saw enormous growth. The singer was unhappy with what was available in the market, so created the critically acclaimed products.
Ashton Kutcher has followed his passion off-screen, which has led to a reputation as one of the savviest entrepreneurs in tech. His love of the industry led to him teaming up with entertainment manager Guy Oseary and billionaire investor Ron Burkle in 2010 to create A-Grade Investment, which was valued at more than US$100 million after only three years. After investing in the startups Skype, Airbnb and Uber, the actor has since set up an additional venture fund, Sound Ventures.
Sean Combs has spread his business net wide with interests across entertainment, fashion, fragrances, beverages and more. His total net worth is approximately US$900 million.
Gwyneth Paltrow was mocked when she launched lifestyle website Goop. But her plan in 2008 to bring her love of new-age spirituality, targeted cosmetics, and unusual diet and lifestyle offerings to market has shown she has plenty of entrepreneurial savvy, as it is now valued at US$250 million.
Jessica Alba launched The Honest Company in 2012, providing consumers with safe, non-toxic household and baby products, and was valued at around US$550 million in February 2022.