This feature originally appeared in a 2009 issue of Muscle & Fitness

When you peruse the Hollywood man-scape for the leading men that fit the Muscle & Fitness mold, there are very few with a better physical makeup than Australian-born Hugh Jackman. This week, audiences are filling theaters to see Jackman, 40, in the scenery-charged epic Australia. 

For this role, Jackman has once again whipped himself into action-hero shape, but appears a bit leaner than his signature role, Wolverine, in the X-Men movies. But with X-Men Origins: Wolverine hitting screens in May, it won’t be long before audiences see the more muscled version of Jackman’s physique back in action.

Recently named by People Magazine as the Sexiest Man Alive, Jackman took some time out to chat with M&F about his training and diet for his most recent role.

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M&F: When you have a physical role like this what do you do to train and prepare—do you have a trainer or follow a special diet?

Hugh Jackman: Definitely. I go to the gym in the morning as much for a state of mind as for a physical state. When you work with [director] Baz [Luhrmann], you might be doing close-up kissing at 8:30 or jumping over a six-foot fence with a horse. You don’t know, and that is the thrill of it. It’s something I love.

Early on in my career I made the mistake of turning up after waking at 11. Now it’s about having the state of mind where from the first frame you’re ready to go. In terms of physicality and what you eat, it’s very important because the protein diet as we know it is pretty much what these drovers lived on. When they were out there they didn’t eat a lot. They were quite lean, very strong, and quite muscle-y.

So what did you eat?

A lot of steamed chicken. It’s important before you train. And these guys [drovers] did that too. Gotta have some food in your belly before you work.

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Did you go to the gym?

When we were in the Outback I had a caravan [trailer] with a fireplace, and next to it a rack of free weights. I suppose you could call it a portable gym. But we were literally on the dirt with a few weights. It was pretty much all-body stuff. It was about being able to be malleable and physical, because those guys out there are strong. They can be thrown off a horse, land on the ground and get straight back up again. So you have to be flexible.

How did this compare to how you prepare for Wolverine?

Wolverine, I have to eat a lot more, train with a lot heavier weights, and get my naturally lean body a little bigger.

Do you have to work harder now that you’ve turned 40?

Yes. You don’t get away with your errors anymore so you’ve got to be a little more disciplined.

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Do you work with a trainer?

Yeah. It’s funny even calling him my trainer ’cause Mike and I have been mates since I was 18. He’s actually a fantastic trainer, but it’s an odd relationship. He’s just the most competitive guy in the world, and he’ll be trash-talking me the whole time: “I’m gonna smash ya!”—all that ridiculous teenage boy behavior. That’s what we’ve turned into.

Wolverine comes out in May. What was that experience like?

It was fantastic; great director, very strong, and has a great understanding of journeys and arcs and characters. These movies live or fail by their attention to the characters and the story. All the other stuff, the powers, which is terrific, is not at the heart of it. It’s the themes and the characters and the struggles. I do miss Halle Berry, though!

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