Chris Hemsworth Is the New Face of Australia


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Chris Hemsworth, the new global ambassador for Tourism Australia, takes a selfie with a fan.

Credit
Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

“Would you rather dance naked for Donald Trump, or would you rather have Donald Trump dance naked for you?” Curtis Stone, an Australian chef and television personality, asked a countryman, the film star Chris Hemsworth, on Monday night.

Mr. Hemsworth, who appeared amused but caught off guard, demurred. It was a moment his public relations handlers could have done without.

A number of notable Australians had gathered at Celsius in Bryant Park on the night before their country’s national holiday, Australia Day (Jan. 26), for an event announcing Mr. Hemsworth as the new global ambassador for Tourism Australia.

Guests included Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop; Andreja Pejic, a prominent model; Luke Mangan, a leading chef in Australia; and the actor Sullivan Stapleton, a star of the NBC drama “Blindspot.”

Reporters hoping to speak to Mr. Hemsworth were warned that several topics were off limits. Those included his film work and the recent rumored engagement of Miley Cyrus to Mr. Hemsworth’s brother Liam, a star in the “Hunger Games” series.

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The model Andreja Pejic.

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Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

But Mr. Stone, who was the event’s M.C., is what Australians would call a larrikin, someone with a cheeky sense of humor who enjoys breaking the rules.

“If you could perform in a band,” he asked Mr. Hemsworth from the stage, “would you rather perform with Kiss or Miley Cyrus?”

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The event took place at Celsius in Bryant Park.

Credit
Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

Mr. Hemsworth steeled himself and, after several beats, answered in a commanding, accented baritone, “Mioly Siorus.”

Mr. Hemsworth joins a parade of Australian actors promoting travel to the country. That parade includes Hugh Jackman (ambassador for Qantas airlines) and Naomi Watts (who recently promoted the Australia route for British Airways). And many Americans may still recall the run of Paul Hogan, the star of “Crocodile Dundee,” as the face of Tourism Australia from 1984 to 1990, during which he popularized the slogan “shrimp on the barbie.”

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Julie Bishop (right), the Australian minister for foreign affairs, with a guest.

Credit
Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

But Mr. Hemsworth’s remarks suggested he had come to bury that campaign, not to praise it.

Asked by Mr. Stone what “myth” about Australia he would most like to correct (this is when he was sticking to scripted questions written for him by the event’s organizer), Mr. Hemsworth replied, “I can remember first coming to L.A. and many people thinking that we honestly rode kangaroos across Sydney Harbor Bridge.”

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Guests included Luke Mangan (center), a leading chef in Australia.

Credit
Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

He added, “The hangover from ‘Crocodile Dundee’ is somewhat dated.”

Australia Day is a midsummer holiday, so the tall piles of snow left behind by New York’s weekend blizzard were a novelty for most of the guests. “It’s the first time I have experienced this kind of snowstorm,” said Ms. Bishop, who is the deputy leader of the Liberal Party and often mentioned as a potential prime minister. “It was thrilling and exhilarating.”

She took it as an opportunity to publicize the Australian climate. “It’s so timely for us to be promoting this in the middle of a blizzard,” she added. “Come down to Australia: sun, surf, beaches, wonderfully warm and friendly people.”

But Ms. Bishop was just as enthusiastic about New York. “The vibe, the excitement,” she said. “The feeling of being in the middle of the most exciting city on earth, the epicenter of fun.”

If the prime minister thing doesn’t work out, perhaps she could be a tourism ambassador for New York.



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