Like many an ac­tion star, Aussie Jai Court­ney needs to keep in top phys­i­cal con­di­tion – but keep­ing his body buffed up isn’t al­ways sim­ple

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES - VICKY ROACH

He might be the fas­tris­ing Aus­tralian star, but if Jai Court­ney is go­ing to take his shirt off in front of the cam­era, he needs two weeks no­tice.

“It’s amaz­ing what hap­pens in the lead-up to those scenes,’’ says the star who bares all, briefly, in Ter­mi­na­tor Genisys.

“You’d think once you get in shape, main­tain­ing that is just about train­ing and eat­ing clean. But it’s not that sim­ple.”

Or­di­nary Joes who have been feel­ing some­what in­ad­e­quate, lately, in the face of the pro­lif­er­a­tion of beef­cake im­ages fea­tur­ing sharply de­lin­eated six packs and deep V-cuts will surely take con­so­la­tion from the fact that even Court­ney doesn’t re­ally look like his big screen im­age – most of the time.

“The only peo­ple ready to look in elite phys­i­cal shape when they take their clothes off are peo­ple whose job it is to be that way,’’ says the straight- talk­ing ac­tor who grew up in the north-western Syd­ney sub­urb of Cher­ry­brook.

“And when you are shoot­ing 14-hour days and strug­gling to find time to hit the gym, it’s amaz­ing how quickly that dis­ap­pears.”

To get into “peak” film­ing con­di­tion, Court­ney’s in­tense phys­i­cal prepa­ra­tion in­cludes drink­ing eight litres of wa­ter a day and a pro­tein-rich diet that con­sists pri­mar­ily of fresh salmon.

“There are all sorts of tricks. It’s a very weird world. ”

Hav­ing al­ready carved out a rep­u­ta­tion for him­self as a cred­i­ble ac­tion hero in films such as Jack Reacher, with Tom Cruise, and A Good Day To Die Hard, with Bruce Wil­lis, 29year-old Court­ney’s pow­er­ful phys­i­cal pres­ence in the fourth film in the Ter­mi­na­tor fran­chise is a good match for seven-time Mr Olympia win­ner Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger.

But the ac­tor says his ver­sion of Kyle Reese, John Con­nor’s fa­ther and Sarah Con­nor’s love in­ter­est, ac­tu­ally rep­re­sents a slimmed-down ver­sion of his nor­mal self.

“That was me in an ef­fort to be as least phys­i­cally im­pos­ing as I could. That’s me try­ing to get skinny. I had to ac­tu­ally drop a bunch of weight for Ter­mi­na­tor Genisys,” he says.

“In fact I am about 20kg lighter (in the film) than I am now, which is re­ally hard to main­tain. It comes with the ter­ri­tory we are work­ing in nowa­days and the pres­sure to be as ath­letic as pos­si­ble.”

Although he is star­ring op­po­site a Hol­ly­wood leg­end in his latest out­ing, Court­ney says there were sur­pris­ingly few con­ces­sions to be made.

“It’s al­ways fun when you get to work with some­one who is in­cred­i­bly fa­mil­iar to you from their work. The fear is they will dis­ap­point you in some way, but for­tu­nately for me it’s never been the case.

“Arnold was great. I think it re­ally hit home that we were mak­ing a Ter­mi­na­tor film dur­ing the ta­ble read where he ut­tered some re­ally iconic lines. It was a re­ally cool mo­ment.”

More re­cently seen in the apoc­a­lyp­tic teen fran­chise Di­ver­gent and An­gelina Jolie’s World War II epic Un­bro­ken, Court­ney says while he re­mains re­spect­ful to his A-list men­tors, he can’t do his job if he is over­awed.

“The first film I got in the States was Jack Reacher with Tom Cruise and I had this im­mense fear that I wasn’t go­ing to live up to the ex­pec­ta­tion that he had,” he says. “I knew he had seen my au­di­tion, and as a pro­ducer on the movie he had also cast me in it, but I re­mem­ber show­ing up think­ing f---, what if I don’t de­liver?

“I’m not re­ally sure how I over­came that, but it was the first and last time that I felt that pres­sure. I think once you get go­ing, and if you are putting the work in and things go well, it’s easy to let go of.”

Court­ney’s own suc­cess is harder to man­age. On the back of a hit, he says, there’s a lot of pres­sure on the all-im­por­tant fol­low-up pro­ject.

“As the cliff rises, it gets rock­ier, and the ter­rain is even more un­steady,’’ he ob­serves.

“I think that sense of para­noia in­fects ev­ery­body. It’s re­ally hard to get to a place where you are re­ally es­tab­lished and you can af­ford to have hits and misses and there is a real ca­reer go­ing on.

“I am work­ing on my 10th or 11th film right now but I feel like I am just get­ting started and that it’s (still) very del­i­cate, that if they don’t all work out, then all of this will dis­ap­pear to­mor­row. How true to re­al­ity my in­ter­pre­ta­tion of it is, I don’t re­ally know. But it’s very hard to re­lax in this busi­ness.”

Pic­ture: PARA­MOUNT

Aus­tralia’s Jai Court­ney plays Kyle Reese in

Ter­mi­na­tor Genisys

– shar­ing screen time with Arnie.

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