Plenty of stars have bulked up or undergone insane procedures to remain focused while in character. Hugh Jackman marks himself as one of the most extreme examples of that trend, and he does it every time he plays his most iconic role. When Jackman needs to get ready for a Wolverine film, he dives in head first. Obviously, a huge portion of Jackman’s preparation comes in the form of an intense workout regime and diet, both of which allow the actor to physically prepare for the role.
In honor of Jackman’s final Wolverine film, Logan, it’s time to look back on the 17 years Jackman has devoted to this character. The evolution of his career has come alongside the evolution of this character, and Jackman has never missed a step in the role, even when the film around him crumbled. Jackman loves Wolverine, and he’s devoted his body and soul to doing the character justice.
Here are 15 Crazy Ways Hugh Jackman Prepared For Playing Wolverine.
15 Cold Showers
Jackman’s physical preparations for the role of Wolverine are impressive, and they deservedly dominate this list. Of course, Jackman is also an actor, and we all know that they do odd things in the name of authenticity. For Jackman, the character doesn’t really emerge until he’s taken a cold shower, one that gets him good and agitated before he starts filming.
While this doesn’t do anything to Jackman physically, it’s the kind of mental preparation that helps turn a friendly, likable Australian into the agitated, angry Canadian character that Jackman has played so well over the course of his career.
Cold showers aren’t the most comfortable thing in the world, so even this requires some commitment from Jackman, who bears them in order to better understand his character. He wants to inhabit Logan, and become the man who’s lived over 200 years, and seen all sorts of horrors. It’s just another example of his true commitment to the role.
14 Sets of 100 Pushups
Even many people who consider themselves fit would probably drop their jaws when they heard that Jackman was capable of doing 100 clap pushups in a row. These push-ups are incredibly taxing, as they require pushing your body high enough into the air that you can clap your hands and catch yourself on the way down. A typical person isn’t capable of doing ten clap pushups in a row, let alone 100.
Jackman’s ability to do that insane number suggests not only that he built up incredible strength, but also that he was committed to doing the long and often grueling work required to prepare for the film. It takes a long time to do 100 pushups, and there’s plenty of time for your mind to give in to the pressures of finishing early, or taking the easy way out. Jackman pushed through, and the results were always evident on screen.
13 Growing Out the Mutton Chops
For the first X-Men film, Jackman opted for prosthetic mutton chops. It was a mistake he never made again. For every film in the series since, the icon of superhero cinema has grown out the signature Wolverine facial hair naturally. As Jackman prepares his body for the role, he must also prepare his face. For Logan, Jackman extended the mutton chops, and grew a full on beard for the role. That beard is essential, in part because it suggests just how disheveled the character has become since we last saw him.
Jackman growing the the facial hair might seem like a small thing, but it reflects just how committed Jackman has become to the role over the 17 years that he’s played the character. Jackman doesn’t just show up on set and start performing. Instead, he becomes the character in such an indelible way that many of its fans can’t imagine any other actor inhabiting the role.
12 Actually Doing the Intricate Fight Choreography
Tom Cruise is famous for doing his own stunts, but few realize that Jackman often falls into that camp as well. The actor believes that doing these scenes makes the experience better for audiences, and it also allows the camera more liberty to film the action in a coherent manner. Of course, there are some stunts that Jackman can’t sufficiently complete, but the fact that he’s so interested in his own stunts is suggestive of the kind of experience that Jackman wants his audiences to have.
Oftentimes, this fight choreography is also helpful for Jackman because it functions almost like an additional workout. The actor is only capable of performing the intricate choreography because he’s in such perfect shape, and his work on the set reinforces the workout that he’s likely gone through earlier in the day. What this ultimately means, though, is that Jackman is likely to be truly exhausted after filming a Wolverine movie where workouts and stunts are the norm.
11 Intermittent Fasting
While Jackman’s diet was already fairly intense, it was accompanied by an inability to eat whenever he wanted. Often Jackman was restricted to eating inside of an eight hour window, typically from 10 am to roughly 6 pm. This means that not only did Jackman have really long days, he also went hungry for long stretches of his days, which were typically spent on set.
Most office employees understand how painful it is to try to get work done on an empty stomach, and that’s without the kind of mobile work that actors are often required to perform. On top of that, Jackman’s body was also strained by workouts, which meant that he usually burned way more calories than the typical person over the course of a day. Jackman’s diet is already fairly intense, and it’s coupled with the kind of fasting that honestly makes it difficult to understand how he was able to accomplish anything while on set, let alone giving the kind of performance Jackson delivers.
10 Alternating Between Bulking Up and Cutting Weight
Because Jackman’s training process is so long, the actor has time to bulk up during the beginning of his regime, and slim down towards the end. This process is called bulking and cutting, and it requires an incredible amount of discipline, among other things. The trick with Wolverine is that the character is incredibly ripped, but he’s not huge. He’s strong, but lean.
That balance was one that Jackman tried to strike with his trainer every time he was preparing to play the character. This often meant eating less on days when he wasn’t working out, and it also meant that Jackman had to keep up his workouts with less food as he got closer to the end of his prep. Jackman wanted Wolverine’s muscles to look cut, and so he trained for maximum definition. Jackman’s carefully calibrated diet certainly helped him achieve this effect, and it’s ultimately what made his Wolverine so iconic.
9 Use of Protein Supplements
Many body builders use protein supplements to help them build muscle, and Jackman is no exception. In order to build the kind of raw muscle he needs to play Wolverine, Jackman took supplements before and after his workouts. Pre-workout, Jackman took a supplement called Animal Pump, a compound which is high in creatine and helps give the body the energy necessary for muscle creation. After his workouts, Jackman would use a supplement called Animal Nitro, which actively promotes muscle growth.
Both of these compounds heightened the productivity of Jackman’s workouts, and they allowed him to get into incredible shape on what were often tight deadlines. When Jackman was forced to transform into Wolverine following his work on Les Miserables, the timetable was shortened because of a tighter schedule. Without the help of supplements, Jackman might not have been as ripped as he wanted to be when he arrived on set for the first days of shooting.
8 Lifting to Muscle Exhaustion
While many workouts stress muscles, Jackman’s often exhausted totally. This meant that Jackman would lift incredibly heavy amounts and do shorter sets, usually only 1-5 lifts. This allowed for more muscle building, but was also much harder on Jackman’s body, and would often exhaust his muscles completely. A typical workout strains muscles, but it isn’t designed to tire them the way that Jackman’s workouts do.
This kind of workout is undoubtedly more efficient, and it works well in concert with Jackman’s diet, which is high in protein, and gives his body a chance to replenish and expand all of the muscles that he works on continuously.
Jackman’s all-out training style speaks to the way he wants Wolverine to look on screen, and to the kind of raw animal presence that’s a holdover from the comic books. Wolverine’s muscles jut out. They’re not smooth and toned-- they’re much more terrifying than that, and that’s what Jackman’s physical training brings to the role.
7 An Insane Lack of Sleep
Jackman would often work out incredibly early in the morning, sometimes as early as 4 AM. While this wasn’t explicitly a part of his workout plan, it was necessary if he was going to be able to film on the same day. This kind of early morning workout provided the actor with plenty of energy for his days on set, but it also meant that he often only got five or six hours of sleep on a given night. Working as an actor can mean incredibly long days, and that’s without the extra time that’s often allotted for a workout.
Jackman got enough sleep to get through his days on set, but between the physical exhaustion of working out and being on set for long hours, each film takes its toll on his body. Jackman would likely argue that this added stress is absolutely worth it, and that the results speak for themselves. While that may be the case, exhaustion is not a particularly rewarding experience, although it may have contributed to Wolverine’s edgy personality.
6 Three Hour Workouts
Three hours is a long time to spend doing anything, and that’s especially true of the kind of intense physical training that Jackman regularly took part in. For most, an hour spent at the gym is enough to spend the rest of the day free of guilt. Unfortunately, an hour didn’t cut it for Mr. Jackman, who often tripled that amount of time for his daily workouts. This kind of commitment means that Jackman often worked on several series of muscles over the course of a single day, and certainly worked his body to the point of exhaustion.
Days on set are often overlong as it is, and that’s compounded here by the fact that Jackman often has to incorporate a workout during periods in the day when he would usually be resting. Of course, Jackman’s general air of exhaustion may contribute to the character, especially in films like Logan, where Wolverine is supposed to be exhausted by the life that he’s led.
5 Six Months of Prep for the Role
For the first X-Men film, Jackman underwent an intense, two-month workout to get physically ready for the role. While the training certainly helped, Jackman ultimately decided that it wasn’t nearly long enough to get as physically prepared as he wanted to be for the role. While it's hard to argue that Jackman looked out of shape in that first film, his muscles didn’t have the definition that he would give them in later installments.
What this meant for Jackman was an extended preparation process that involved more workouts in order to push his body to the place that he wanted it to be. Jackman used that time effectively, giving his muscles more definition and allowing time to cut weight so that his muscles are not buried under a layer of water and fat. The half a year Jackman typically dedicates to preparation for playing Wolverine hasn’t always paid off in terms of quality films, but it’s always made his physical form striking.
4 Carefully Calibrated Diets
Working out the way Jackman does certainly provides him with a calorie deficit, and his attempts to gain muscle mean that Jackman must more than make up for it everyday. Unfortunately, working out the way Jackman does doesn’t give the actor license to eat whatever he wants. His diet is carefully controlled, and is made up of foods that are high in proteins, but low in fats.
Naturally, this means that Jackman got to enjoy all of the meat in the world, but it was usually steamed and devoid of any condiments or other additives. Jackman’s diet also forced him to carb cycle, which meant he would eat meals which were rich in carbs on days when he was working out, and would eat more low carb meals on rest days. Jackman was forced to eat plenty of very healthy meals, and had to be quite strict. His Wolverine body couldn’t come from workouts alone.
3 Water Dehydration for 36 Hours
Jackman only engages in this fairly crazy routine before a shirtless scene. Before these scenes, Jackman deprives himself of water for a full day and a half. This selective dehydration is designed to cut away much of the body’s water weight, which is often held in between the skin and the layer of muscle. When Jackman dehydrates, his muscles begin to cut against his skin to a greater degree, and become much more easy to see as a result.
36 hours may not seem like that long, but that kind of dehydration can be debilitating, and it’s remarkable that Jackman is functional and capable of performing in spite of this lack of fluid. Hopefully he’s able to perform the scene quickly, and get the water that he’s been depriving himself of. Jackman’s commitment is crazy, there’s no doubt about that. He’ll even deprive himself of necessary life sustenance for the role.
2 Taping a Stone to His Heel
A regular, old-fashioned actor’s trick, Jackman taped a stone to his heel everyday while shooting Logan, one which Jackman said reminded him of how battered and bruised Logan is supposed to be in the film. This trick is one that Jackman picked up from British actor Jim Broadbent. The rock isn’t a debilitating thing, but it’s the kind of small annoyance that’s also fairly difficult to ignore. It’s always present, which gives Jackman a constant reminder of his character’s physical and psychological burdens.
While this may seem like a fairly small thing, it reflects the seriousness that Jackman has always brought to the character. He understands that the challenges of playing Logan are more than just physical, and that if he wants to do the character justice, he has to carry the psychological load as well. Jackman treats Logan like a human being, and it’s undoubtedly why he’ll be remembered for years to come.
1 1000 lb. Deadweight Club
Among the remarkable things Jackman has done on a daily basis to get in shape for Wolverine, he also managed to join the 1000 lb. deadweight club, an impressive feat that’s suggestive of the actor’s raw strength. This designation means that Jackman deadlifted a total of 1000 lbs. over the course of a single series, an impressive feat that proves the versatility of Jackman’s strength, as well as his commitment to attaining the kind of strength that makes him seem superhuman.
For Jackman, the split came from 355 lb. squats, a 235 lb. bench press, and 410 lb. deadlift in the same series. The raw strength and resilience required for this achievement says everything you need to know about the way Jackman prepares to play Wolverine. He goes all in, and does the hard work that’s required for the kind of results he really wants. Actors mold themselves mentally, and the best ones do the physical work as well. In that regard, Jackman is certainly an elite.
Do you think Jackman's work paid off on screen? Or did he take it too far? Sound off in the comments!