Hugh Jackman’s Superhero Transformation: Dance, Discipline, and Dedication

The Wolverine actor shares insights on his intense physical preparation for his return to the role, with Ryan Reynolds praising his incredible commitment.**

For Hugh Jackman, getting back into superhero shape was both a challenge and a triumph.

In an exclusive interview with Ryan Reynolds for PEOPLE’s first-ever collectible side-by-side covers featuring the Deadpool and Wolverine stars, Jackman, 55, discussed the rigorous transformation required to reprise his X-Men character for the first time since 2017.

Reynolds, 47, was astounded by Jackman’s physicality. “Just the sheer relentlessness you showed with stunts and choreography was unbelievable,” he says. “Your background in song and dance made you hit those marks with such speed and confidence. It didn’t matter if you were 25, 35, 45, or 55. It was lightning.”

Reynolds added, “Watching you put on what looked like a clinic on stunt work was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen,” to which Jackman responded with gratitude.

Jackman credits a significant part of his physical prowess to stunt coordinator Brian Smrz, who introduced him to incorporating dance training into his action sequences. Despite initial soreness, Jackman found the process enjoyable and beneficial for both his body and mind.

“When I came back to it, it was really fun and I was thrilled. My body was a little sore at the beginning, but I was thrilled that my body was still responding. And I realized how good it is for your brain. But the hardest bit…the food,” Jackman admitted, highlighting his struggle with bulking up to play Wolverine.

“I have to eat a lot,” Jackman continued. “For my body type, I’m naturally skinny. Getting the size on is the hardest part. It drives me crazy.”

Reynolds chimed in, “Yeah, the five, six meals a day sounds appealing to some, but it’s not the kind of food you’d actually enjoy.”

Even after 17 years of friendship, Reynolds found Jackman’s on-set athleticism both impressive and intimidating. “We’d change things quickly and try different approaches, especially with the physicality. Your dance background really showed. There were times I thought, ‘No way this guy’s pulling his punch.’ I felt like I’d be decapitated by Hugh Jackman,” Reynolds joked. “When Hugh Jackman is coming at you at 150 Australian miles per hour, you feel like you’re not going to survive.”

Directed by Shawn Levy, the highly anticipated Deadpool & Wolverine hits theaters July 26.

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