It’s fair to say that the last two years have not been too busy on the work front for Spanish actress Elsa Pataky – on top of parts in British thriller All Things to All Men and the sixth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise there has only been her role in the yet-to-be-released The Wine of Summer, which also marks her debut as a producer.
But then again she’s had other things on her mind, such as twice becoming a mom with actor-husband Chris Hemsworth, the second time to a set of twins. “I’ve followed my ambitions and I have worked where I’ve been able to, but since 2012 my energy has gone practically 100 percent into my family,” she says in Madrid, where she has come to shoot a short promo for lingerie firm Women’Secret. “I think it’s important to enjoy the moment. Unlike other women I am lucky enough to be able to be with my children 24 hours a day and I don’t want to waste even a second.”
Pataky seems more than happy in her latest role as wife to Thor star Hemsworth, whom she married at the end of 2010. They are now one of the most in-demand couples in showbusiness, hitting the headlines every time they leave the house. That’s mostly thanks to the vertiginous professional rise of her husband, who has become one of the top-five highest-paid stars in Hollywood, with earnings of €29 million last year, according to Forbes magazine.
I was Elsa Pataky for a long time and I don’t mind being Mrs Chris Hemsworth”
“We have swapped roles,” she explains. “Until not long ago, he was the husband. During the time we lived in London [when Hemsworth was shooting the two Thor films and The Avengers] it was me they stopped for photos, and he had to take the picture. Now Chris is at a wonderful moment in his career and I am there to support him. I feel very proud to be his wife. I was Elsa Pataky for a long time and I don’t mind being Mrs Chris Hemsworth – although that does sound a bit old-fashioned.”
Despite having always felt a bit nomadic, moving their luggage from hotel to hotel, the Hemsworth-Pataky family is now finally and happily installed in Los Angeles, in their €4 million Malibu mansion. It sounds luxurious, but that’s not quite the case. “Deep down you know this city isn’t yours, that it is not your home. Our way of life, of enjoying and seeing things, is totally different. In that sense, comparing Los Angeles to Madrid is awful. It has some great things, of course, but I’ve always thought it takes you into a solitary life,” says the star of Bigas Luna’s Di Di Hollywood, in which she played a Spanish starlet trying to make it in L. A. And neither has she managed to find a place for herself in Hollywood since she first moved there in 2004. “You can work, but forging a long-term career is difficult if you don’t speak perfect English, without an accent. That’s why they pigeonhole us [Paz Vega, Penélope Cruz] in Latino roles, something that is even harder for me because they don’t see me, I don’t even look the type.”
Forging a long-term career in Hollywood is difficult if you don’t speak perfect English without an accent”
The problem Hollywood has with its moms – witness the declines suffered by the likes of Jennifer Garner and Jessica Alba since they became mothers – only complicates the situation. “As soon as you pass 30 and become a mother, you’re no use,” she says. “You stop being young, you don’t sell. There are very few lucky ones who can go on performing as the years clock up – ask any actress. At the same time men can work at any age. The Hollywood industry is very cruel to women.”
That someone who still sports a teenage figure at the age of 38 is saying this invites even further pause for thought. But looking after herself and staying healthy means she’s able to go on offering her “Patakys” – the gesture she has made famous of showing off her back on the red carpet, which even Spain’s Queen Letizia has imitated. “I found out about her ‘Pataky’ when photographers wanted to take a picture of the back of her dress. I felt very flattered. I sent her a copy of my book and she replied with gratitude,” says the actress, who makes sure she keeps up with events back home by reading the Spanish press online. “Of course I know [former justice minister Alberto Ruiz-] Gallardón has resigned,” she says. “And I love our new queen. I admire her very much.”