"Do you ever stop to look at the birds?” Elsa Pataky asks with a smile. It may seem like an odd question, but under the circumstances, it isn’t at all. The actress and model has just arrived in Spain from her home in Australia and plans to repeat the 24-hour journey within days.
It’s an exhausting schedule, but she looks fabulous. That’s because she’s filled with enthusiasm for the project that brings her here, but also eager to get back to her husband, actor Chris Hemsworth, and their three children. And when Elsa asks about the birds, it’s a clue to her success in life.
“I’m always looking at them,” she says. “I’m on the move all day, so I force myself to stop and see the little things that bring happiness.”
At 47, she’s as committed as ever to her career, but she’s more serene, she says, because she’s better able to prioritise. She’s in Spain for a project that means a lot to her – teaming up with Biotherm.
Sporty and committed to ocean conservation, Elsa couldn’t be a better fit for a beauty brand known for its marine-based products. Its push for “health betterment” – looking, feeling and acting better – is certainly something she shares. Here, she tells us about her personal goals, her fulfilling family life and her approach to ageing.
Elsa, you’re as busy as ever…
“I’m always full of energy, but I’m living each day as it comes. As you get older, your ambitions are no longer the same. It’s about trying to do things consciously so they fulfil you, not rushing through them as if they were part of a schedule.”
Do you still set yourself challenges?
“If I do, it’s for the children to be happy. They’re growing up – India is 12 this year and her twin brothers, Sasha and Tristan, will turn ten. They have a lot of questions about life and you don’t know if you can give the right answers to everything, but you have to try.”
You’ve just teamed up with Biotherm in Spain…
“I’m really pleased to be part of a brand with which I share so much. I love its expertise, its products and their sensuous qualities; Biotherm is all about natural beauty, like me.”
And water is in the brand’s DNA…
“Biotherm shares my love and respect for the ocean. Together, we’ll continue to raise awareness about the need to protect it.”
What can you tell us about your personal beauty routine?
“In the morning, I take a cold shower to get my circulation going. Then I cleanse and moisturise my face and massage my body with a firming cream. That’s about all I have time for, because by then the children are awake, but I never go out without sun protection.
“Since I was a little girl, I’ve seen how my mum takes care of her skin. I hope to pass it on to my own children – not only my daughter, but the boys, too.”
Do you share products with Chris?
“Chris takes good care of his skin. He spends a lot of time outdoors, so he protects it a lot. Sometimes we share one of my serums.”
How are you coping with ageing?
“Age gives you maturity, wisdom and experience, and I wouldn’t trade those for anything. That said, if you asked me whether I’d like to have the skin I did in my 20s, of course I would.”
There’s a concept called “well-ageing” – having a healthy approach, physically and mentally…
“That makes sense. Striving to look younger is stressful, and stress ages you, so it’s counterproductive. It’s better to say: ‘I’m going to do everything in my power to feel good and be healthy,’ but accept the passage of time.”
How do you take care of your mental health?
“I think therapy – talking about the emotional baggage we all carry, with a person who knows how to help – is liberating. I’ve done it.”
What are your fears?
“I’m afraid of losing vitality; I want to be able to keep up with my children and do the sports I like. To maintain my fitness, I’m doing Pilates and a lot of weights. I push myself, but fitness has always been part of my life. I enjoy it, and that’s something I share with Chris.”
Your home in Byron Bay is perfect for enjoying the outdoors…
“The first thing the kids do when they get up is check to see if there are any waves – if there are, they grab their boards and go surfing with their dad before school.”
What other pastimes do you have?
“I’ve taken up painting. I take classes with my mother and my daughter, who paints beautiful pictures. I carry my watercolours everywhere, including on planes.”
India has inherited lots from you...
“We’re very similar. Whatever the sport, she tries to be better than her brothers. I was the same; I used to wrestle the boys at school.”
Chris decided last year to spend more time with the family. How has that worked out?
“We’ve always looked for times to take a couple’s break, but knowing that he’s at home and I can count on him for everything is great. You get used to it!”
You’ve been married for 13 years. Are you still a great team?
“Yes, but it’s not always easy. Marriages require a lot of time and work: they’re built little by little from good moments, incredible moments and other, more difficult ones. I think that’s beautiful. I’ve learnt a lot – to be less stubborn, to calm down and to get to know my husband.”
What is his real-life superpower?
“He’s a superdad, a wonderful father.”
And if your romance was a movie, which one would it be?
“The NeverEnding Story!”