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How Zazie Beetz Got Ripped To Play Domino In Deadpool 2

Zazie Beetz was as surprised as anyone when she landed the role of super-lucky mutant Domino in Deadpool 2. The German-American actress was well-known to fans of Donald Glover's hit FX show Atlanta, but prior to that she'd only had a handful of roles, mainly in low-budget projects. "I never really pictured [this] would be my trajectory," she said of making the huge jump into the superhero genre. "I was nervous, because you sign onto a franchise and you're contracted with them to continue on with the story, and you don't really know what you're signing up for. But I liked the idea of introducing the live-action version of a character."

If she was still feeling those nerves by the time the shoot came around, then they certainly didn't show. USA Today called Beetz the "captivating standout" of Deadpool 2, and Vanity Fair agreed, proclaiming her "the best thing" about the R-rated sequel. She slipped into the role like she was born to play it, but in reality, getting to where she needed to be for the part required a lot of hard work. This is how Beetz got ripped to play Domino in Deadpool 2.

She pushed herself harder than ever before

She appeared in disappointing disaster thriller Geostorm in 2017, but her minor role (she played a data analyst named Dana) didn't require much in the way of physicality. She's never needed to hit the gym for the part of former grade school teacher Van in Atlanta, either. When she signed on to play Domino, however, Beetz knew it was going to take a whole lot of training, much more than she'd ever done before.

"It was a lot," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "Especially because in my routine day-to-day, I didn't really work out that much. So it was a huge transition emotionally and physically... Just something I hadn't felt before. [I'd] never really brought myself that far." Speaking to Shadow and Act about her training experience, Beetz revealed that the mental side of it was just as hard as the physical side. "The training ends up becoming this mental and emotional experience as well," she said. "I had to do a bunch of rethinking and re-adjusting of my sleep schedule and my eating schedule, and that takes your whole day."

She trained for four hours every day

Beetz also told Shadow and Act that she had to train for "about four hours a day for many months" to make sure that she was ready for the long days on set and the physical demands of making a superhero movie. "I'm going to be shooting guns, I fight and a lot of that movement is full body and physical," she told IBT before production on Deadpool 2 began. "You're doing that for 12 hours a day and they just want you to have the stamina."

When she spoke to Entertainment Tonight about the tragic on-set death of her stunt woman Joi Harris, Beetz also revealed that seeing how dedicated leading man Ryan Reynolds was really helped her to remain focused on her goals. "I'm training a lot and I am naturally not one to gym, so it's been a learning experience," she said. "But also, honestly, it's amazing kind of watching Ryan [Reynolds] do his thing because you think like, 'Oh, he has the mask on and you can ADR all of it' or whatever, but he's genuinely, incredibly talented and really just can do it. It's pretty impressive to watch."

She saw quick results

During her interview with IBT, Beetz reiterated just how grueling her training schedule was, but she also revealed she'd been spurred on by seeing the results of those long, hard days in the gym pretty quickly. "I'm doing strength conditioning, so that's like working out everyday, which has been really hard," she said. "But it's also really good. It's amazing how fast your body adjusts and changes and the stuff I'm lifting is already heavier and recovering better."

According to Superhero Jacked, Beetz most likely started her day with a series of stretches and a light jog before diving head first into the hard stuff. A typical session could include up to 30 pushups, 30 pull-ups, 30 deadlifts, 30 leg presses, 30 box jumps, 30 dips, 30 dumbbell chest flys, and 30 shoulder front raises. When you read the entire schedule from start to finish, it becomes easier to understand just how she got ripped so fast.

She found the weight training 'very boring'

The weight training might have worked wonders for Zazie Beetz in a short space of time, but that doesn't mean she enjoyed it. In fact, she's gone on record as saying that she found this aspect of her regimen "very boring" (via CinemaBlend), much preferring the combat prep she did first thing in the morning. "I was doing two hours in the morning of fight training, and boxing and choreography," she told Shadow and Act. "It's kind of like learning a dance — martial arts, mixed martial arts — and then in the afternoon I did a bunch of weight training."

Beetz revealed that she found the fight training "a lot more fun" because it kept her mind active, unlike the highly repetitive weight lifting sessions that would follow. "You're using your mind when you're sparring, and it's a whole body experience, and it's sort of this cardio mixed with knowledge and you're learning how to kick and you're learning how to punch and you have to adjust your body," she explained. "With weight training, it felt very monotonous, and it felt like a challenge just all the way through and it didn't feel as mentally engaging."

She was trained by Don Saladino

You might not know Don Saladino by name, but chances are good that you've seen his work. "Many publications have coined me 'the superhero trainer,'" the renowned fitness expert told Dragon Door. "About eleven years ago I was introduced to actor Hugh Jackman, and got him ready for his roles in Australia and Wolverine. Since then I've worked with literally a melee of celebrities. Now I'm known as the guy who gets people 'superhero ready' for movie roles." Saladino's client list includes Marvel stars Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) and Sebastian Stan (the Winter Soldier), and he's also been used by Ryan Reynolds and his wife Blake Lively.

Saladino started training Reynolds for his starring role in Deadpool 2 in February 2017, which was how he became acquainted with Beetz. Despite finding her weight training boring, Beetz admitted that she loved working with Saladino, and the feeling was very much mutual. "Gonna miss this one as our Deadpool 2 prep is complete!" Saladino said in an Instagram post of the pair together in the gym. "Absolutely loved the work she put in. Can't thank her enough for being just an awesome human being. Good luck Rockstar!"

Saladino turned her into an 'a** kicker'

When PopSugar caught up with Saladino after the release of Deadpool 2, the sought after personal trainer was more than happy to go into more detail about his work with Beetz. He revealed that when he first assessed her, he found that she was actually "pretty athletic" to begin with and didn't require "a ton of cardio" despite being so gym-shy. Because she came to him with a naturally lean body, Saladino decided that he would concentrate primarily on strength training to get her looking more like a superhero. As he put it, "What we needed to do for the role [was] we had to turn her into more of an ass kicker."

Saladino admitted that the style of training he recommended for Beetz usually intimidates his female clients, but if she wanted to become Domino in the timescale they were working with, this was simply the best way to go about it. "Picking up things like kettlebells and doing things like squats and split squats — it's the stuff that works the best," he said. "It elevates the heart rate the most, and it's not linear and so one-dimensional like how most people train."

It was a 'huge adjustment'

Going from someone who barely knew what the inside of a gym looked like to training flat-out for months was a "huge adjustment" for Beetz, but she knew exactly what she signed up for when she agreed to take on the role. If she's dedicated to anything, it's her craft, so when times got hard she leaned on her professional pride to stop her from giving in. "I kept thinking, 'This is my job right now and I have to do this to do the best work that I can,'" she told RTE.

This wasn't the only adjustment that she had to make for Deadpool 2, either. As soon as the news that she'd be playing Domino broke, Beetz was catapulted to an all new level of fame, a level she knows there's no coming back from. "I've been talking a lot to my boyfriend [actor David Rysdahl] about this, we both feel — because it affects the both of us — that we're crossing this bridge that we're burning down that we can't go back," she explained. "I've kind of gone back and forth a bunch of times feeling panicky about it and then feeling like I'm just going to accept whatever's going to happen."

She ate a vegan diet

Because Beetz is a vegan, her diet didn't really change all that much during her Deadpool 2 training, but what did change was the amount of food she consumed and when she was allowed to eat it. "You have to change how you eat, and it also takes away your energy," she told Shadow and Act. "I really empathized with kids doing sports and school at the same time because it's hard to focus because you're exhausted. Doing that alongside shooting and prepping and all that stuff, it's a lot of work, but it was also really cool."

Veganism and body building aren't things that are ordinarily associated with one another, but having a plant-based diet can actually have many benefits during periods of training — believe it or not, Chris Hemsworth (Thor) went vegan when he was filming The Avengers. For Don Saladino, Beetz being a vegan wasn't a problem. The personal trainer simply advised her to "continue making good food choices and eating quality foods," which she did. The actress often hints at her low-waste lifestyle and plant-based diet on her Instagram feed.

It was all worth it

Playing Domino left its mark on Beetz, quite literally. She told USA Today that she has a scar on her chest from a stray shell that hit her during a shootout scene. She also passed out from exhaustion at one stage, overheating in her "wildly impractical" leather bodysuit in the middle of a fight sequence. Despite all this, she believes that everything she went through in preparation for Deadpool 2 was absolutely worth it.

"On my first day of doing action I was so nervous because I was like, 'Oh God, I hope this has paid off,'" she told RTE. "We had been working so much, and I was thinking hopefully it'll look good and I remember doing the first take and then seeing the playback and I was like, 'It's f*****g amazing!'" From that day forward, Beetz remained grateful for all the help she received and was proud of all the hard work she put in during the months prior to shooting. "I wouldn't have been able to do what I did do in the movie without all the practice," she told Shadow and Act. "It is really empowering, even if it's fake to do the combat scenes."