MAKING IT LOOK SO EASY
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
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.”
Australia’s Jai Courtney plays Kyle Reese in
– sharing screen time with Arnie.