Hugh Jackman is no slacker. But that’s no surprise to anyone even passively aware of the great physical and emotional feats the Australian actor puts himself through for roles — whether it’s playing a 19th-century convict on the run in Les Miserables or inhabiting the brutish physicality of Wolverine in the X-Men franchise, Jackman commits to his characters without abandon.

To kick off Entertainment Weekly Radio, which launched on SiriusXM (channel 105) today, Entertainment Weekly’s editor-in-chief Jess Cagle spoke to Jackman about his most challenging role to date and his crazy Wolverine diet.

Jackman’s had a number of demanding parts for both the stage and screen, including his Broadway turn as Peter Allen in The Boy from Oz. “By the time I finished that year I had stress fractures on my feet. I was having to ice four times a day. That was pretty arduous,” Jackman said. But his work on Les Miserables still beats out the real stage experience. Jackman told the audience that the part of Jean Valjean was his most emotionally, vocally, and physically challenging role. “I really had to have two different bodies in that film within a three-month period,” he said. All the work paid off, though, considering the fact that Jackman scored his first Oscar nomination for his performance. “It’s the kind of difficulty that you want as an actor.”

Even though his Les Miserables starvation diet sounds quite harrowing, Jackman admitted that his “Wolverine diet” was the hardest to adhere to. Just take a look at him on the cover of EW’s latest issue. Abs like that don’t come from a few sit-ups. “I’m quite a skinny person by nature so I’m eating ridiculous amounts of food,” Jackman said. “I quite like everything I ate, but it’s more bland. It’s chicken breast, but steamed and no salt, and steamed spinach.”

Bland chicken is one thing, but his feeding scheduling makes the regimen all the more insane. “What I do is I eat everything in an 8-hour period…It’s called the 16-8 diet. For 16 hours of the day I fast, so I don’t eat. So between 10 in the morning and 6 at night — this is why I’m burping because I ate a steak literally before I came out — I eat 5,000 calories and then I eat nothing,” Jackman said. “I literally talk to myself like I’m training: ‘One more mouthful, come on man, you can do it. Just one more mouthful. Half a chicken breast to go and you’ve got it! Only two meals left.'”

It is somewhat comforting to know that even someone as multi-talented as Hugh Jackman needs to work pretty hard to become, well, Hugh Jackman.

Click here to check out the full programming schedule for EW Radio.

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The Wolverine
  • Movie
  • 136 minutes