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Hugh Jackman Owes His Wolverine Physique To Chicken, Not Steroids

Hugh Jackman may love playing the ferocious Marvel superhero Wolverine, but apparently not enough to endure chronic pain, unpredictable mood swings, or a shorter life span. These are all side effects commonly associated with taking a vast array of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) collected under the loose umbrella term "steroids."

Generally speaking, illegal steroids are used by those seeking to dramatically increase their muscle mass in a shorter period of time (though they still need to train rigorously and diet accordingly). It has been long speculated that many of Hollywood's muscle men are on some sort of drug regimen, with most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe boasting body transformations rivaled only by Billy Batson. In 2021, Vox described the use of PEDs as an "open secret" in Hollywood, while Arnold Schwarzenegger — arguably the most famous action hero of all time — has been open about his use of steroids throughout his early career (via NBC News).

Jackman specifically has been the target of steroid rumors, with some fans alleging the actor used gear to maintain his Wolverine physique throughout his unparalleled 17-year run in the "X-Men" franchise.  A sourced article from Total Shape – whose author opined that Jackman's Wolverine physique was technically possible through natural means — effectively summed up the aspects that fuel said rumors, namely his age (especially in relation to his presumed testosterone levels), vascularity, and noticeably flushed skin in certain scenes. According to the actor himself, however, these assumptions about his alleged steroid use are far from true.

With apologies to chickens everywhere...

In an interview with the eponymous host of HBO's "Who's Talking To Chris Wallace?" Hugh Jackman stated very clearly that he had never taken illegal steroids in his career (via Variety). "No," he said plainly, before continuing, "I love my job ... [but] 'I don't love it that much.'"

In their conversation, Jackman spoke carefully about his peripheral experience with steroids, seemingly implying that he had known and spoken to former users (possibly those in the entertainment industry). "I got to be careful what I say here," he began, "but I had been told anecdotally what the side effects are of [taking steroids]." Apparently whatever side effects he heard about were enough to make him take the natural route, separating him from a reportedly growing pool of actors who took up 20% of the market at the beginning of the 2010s (per The Hollywood Reporter).

Referring to his approach as the "old school way," his strategy consisted of — you guessed it — eating a lot of chicken. "If the deity has anything related to chickens, I'm in trouble," he joked, having earlier apologized to "all the vegans and vegetarians and to the chickens of the world." Whether or not Jackman achieved his physique without the use of PEDs is arguably of no concern to anyone but himself and his physician. On the other hand, considering that those presenting as masculine struggle with body image as much as anyone else, it may be useful for actors who achieve such transformations to be more open about the unrealistic measures they had to take throughout the process (as Rob McElhenney and Kumail Nanjiani have done to some degree) — whether that be access to drugs or merely the resources of a major film studio.