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Hugh Jackman in X-Men

Today, the workouts actors have to do to prepare for their superhero roles are well known for taking a long time and being intense. Few actors get away with not at least doing some kind of workout. But when superhero movies were just starting to gain popularity, it wasn’t as well known, which is why Hugh Jackman had no idea how long it would take him to get in shape to play Wolverine in the first X-Men movie.

Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway recently interviewed each other recently for the Variety segment called Actors on Actors. The conversation of the tough superhero workout came up since Anne Hathaway learned it all too well on The Dark Knight Rises. Hugh Jackman, for his part, recalled how that wasn’t totally on his radar at the time. Here’s what he had to say:

There’s a couple of split screen shots going around the Internet that show the difference. The first day I had to have my shirt off. And Bryan Singer didn’t see anything at the time but later said, ‘OK I gotta shoot your from here up [the neck up] and have the camera low. I remember looking at the comic books – I’d never read the comic books before – so I’m looking at the comics and I’m like, ‘Uh, how long do I have to get ready for this?’ They said, ‘Well we’re shooting in three weeks.’ I remember thinking, ‘Oh, three weeks!’ I’d never buffed up for anything really. I was like, ‘I think three weeks I can buff up if I really hit it hard.’ No.

Go ahead and look up “Wolverine then and now,” and you’ll see the split screen shots Hugh Jackman is talking about. The difference in his physique is startling. Clearly back then, the superhero body expectation hadn’t been firmly established yet. Now, save a few actors that can get away with it, most superhero actors have put on muscle.

Of course, trying to bulk up in three weeks wasn’t going to happen, which Hugh Jackman hilariously understands now in hindsight. Since some scenes in X-Men did require him to work out more, Hugh Jackman explained how long it actually took him:

The scene that introduces my character, they moved to the end. So it took me six months. Of course, by the time I finished Logan I was almost 50 so it takes even longer.

Over the 17 years that he played Wolverine, Hugh Jackman radically changed his body to fit the superhero character. When it was time to end things with Logan, though, it sounds like he didn’t mind the workouts so much as the diet.

Now that Hugh Jackman is officially done as Wolverine, another actor will have to step up and tackle the tough workout and diet required to bring the character to life. Whoever that person is, hopefully those in charge will give him more than three weeks’ notice about the workout.

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