Hugh Jackman & Richard Armitage: Transformation

I am watching  a repeat of the Hugh Jackman interview on the 60 Minutes tv show and thinking again about how much he has in common with Richard Armitage as an actor. In the interview, Hugh talks about how he transforms himself for his roles. He says his body is one of his “tools” as an actor, as is his voice. Which is clearly the way Mr. Armitage also views his “tools”. (Wait, that didn’t sound right…)

hugh-jackman-wolverine-chestWolverine – Hugh Jackman transfomed

RA Cold Feet chest

Richard Armitage as Lee in “Cold Feet

I can’t find the interview right now, but I remember that Richard Armitage talked about how the script for Cold Feet called for someone with a “6 pack” abdomen, so he felt he had to produce one.

Developing the voice as a “tool” of an actor is also something both Armitage and Jackman have in common. Mr. Armitage has spoken about how much work he put into creating Thorin Oakenshield‘s dwarf voice – see  this interview .

As actors, Jackman and Armitage speak about their craft very similarly. As people, they couldn’t be more different. Jackman is a family man, through and through. He is very close to his dad and siblings and he tries to never spend more than 2 weeks apart from his wife and children. Armitage is a very private man who doesn’t ever speak about his private life, except to occasionally mention his brother’s family, and his love and respect for his mother and father.

I have been thinking about how actors transform their physical selves for their art, and how difficult it is for me, as a non-actor to transform my physical self for any reason. I have been struggling for months to lose weight. So far I have lost about 30 pounds, but I have at least another 30 to go. Phew! It is so hard! How the heck do these actors have the ability to lose and gain weight and muscle on such a regular basis?? I tell myself that if it was my JOB to lose weight, I guess I would be able to do so more easily. I guess that’s why I’m not an actor. LOL!

Do you find it easy to transform yourself in any way in order to accomplish a goal? I sure don’t.


From New York City. Anglophile, theater-goer, love books, music and LIFE.
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33 Responses to Hugh Jackman & Richard Armitage: Transformation

  1. Servetus says:

    Hate to say this, toots, but the reason it’s harder for you than for them is that you’re not a guy. Men have a much easier time with short term weight changes than women do. It’s been observed repeatedly.

  2. Lori H says:

    Congrats on the weight loss! It is very difficult to transform yourself. You have to give it to HJ & RA and others who have done this. BTW, I like the way they utilize their tools, too. *smiling innocently*

  3. marieastra8 says:

    Really??? Is it that guys have an easier time? I always thought it was just that actors have the time and money to do it. Interesting.

    • Servetus says:

      It has to do with the relative differences in body size and the relative propensity to develop muscle mass, which is apparently different between the sexes. Because men are larger, they have greater muscle mass, so even their resting metabolism needs more calories, and when they exercise, they need more calories than women to get the same things done. If you’re following a weight loss plan that stresses cardio over muscle building, you might consider one focused on developing muscle mass. (Most women don’t want to “get muscles” when they lose weight.)

      • marieastra8 says:

        I did weight training a few years ago. That is what they taught us – that developing muscle helps you lose weight. This time around I’ve been focussing on changing my eating habits. Smaller portions, more healthy choices, rather than focussing on exercise. Do men develop muscle mass more easily?

      • Servetus says:

        relative to women, yes — that is, women are somewhat more likely tend to store additional calories as fat (has to do with the reproductive function of the female body / nursing) – women carry 10 percent more of their weight as fat than men do — even obese men carry proportionally more of their extra weight as muscle than as fat (which is another thing that makes it easier for them to lose).

  4. Servetus says:

    I’m also sure that having time and money helps. Somebody paid those SAS guys who trained Armitage for the John Porter role; that can’t have been cheap. And if *all* you’re doing is changing your body shape (as opposed to working 10 hours a day on some other task that has you sitting), that has to make it easier.

    I remember when Oprah lost all that weight the first time, part of the program was that she hired a personal chef (“Rosie”). Some people were really outraged — they said, well, if someone else cooked and portion controlled all my meals (and invented healthy versions of them), I’d lose weight, too … the basic American diet is really very unhealthful.

    • marieastra8 says:

      Wow! So interesting! Thanks, Serv! I guess on transformations other than physical, weight/muscle, we’re pretty much on par with men. Like voices. Or ability to change behavior?

      • Servetus says:

        I don’t know that there’s any biological difference that would suggest a disparity in willpower 🙂

        Changing the pitch of your voice is extremely hard. Armitage made a smart remark about that in that interview that Heirs of Durin posted last week.

      • marieastra8 says:

        I imagine so. I’ve never attempted to do that1 😀 I have attempted to change my behavior. It is quite difficult. You really have to be self-aware to do that.

      • Servetus says:

        FWIW — I think behavior modification is *really* poorly understood, and that includes in psychological research. Most parenting advice on changing behavior is really not very helpful, from what I’ve observed, for instance. And what affects one person’s behavior may have no influence on another person’s.

        This is my opinion: I’m successful in changing my behavior either when the carrot outweighs the stick (the positive benefit of change so significantly trumps the current habit that I’m irresistibly drawn to the changed behavior and the old behavior stops being attractive) or there is really absolutely no other choice than to change (e.g., I always used to eat dinner on Friday at X Restaurant, but it doesn’t exist anymore). Incentives between on the spectrum for behavioral change don’t really exist for me. This means when I want to change something, before I start to change the behavior I have to modify my state of mind about something. And that can be really difficult for me.

      • marieastra8 says:

        I think a lot of behavioral change lies in the eye of the beholder. I may not think my behavior needs changing, but others may think it obvious that it does. I’m thinking here about something like addiction. Addiction tells me that I am okay, while all around me know I am not. Behavioral change depends on my belief that my behavior needs to be changed. As you say, if I believe that my behavior should be changed (i.e., the carrot is more appealing than the stick) then it is more likely I will change that behavior. ?

      • Servetus says:

        We’re back on the terrain here of your use of words like “obsession” to describe what you’re going through — from my perspective, “addiction” may not be a useful word, because it implies an attachment to something so severe that it is self-damaging. I’m living again with an addict at the moment, so I would say that both perspectives have to be valid, that is to say, I would say my addiction to Armitage is acceptable, but my father’s addiction to alcohol is damaging. My father would say that his addiction is not harmful, but saying that is ignoring prima faciae evidence for the way it has damaged all of his close relationships over the years. It is harmful to him and others. So maybe we need a redefinition of addiction? Or another word?

        I mean — is your obsession / addiction self-damaging? Or harmful to others? If someone who observes you from outside says, your interest in Armitage is self-destructive to you, are there rational grounds upon which that statement make sense? it’s possible, I suppose. Someone said of me several years ago that I was spending way too much time watching (and rewatching) television programs. My perception is that Armitagemania has improved my life (so that if there are some disadvantages, they are outweighed by the big advantages), whereas I don’t see exactly how that would apply to drug addiction (unless one were willing to say something like addiction prevents one from killing oneself).

        For me, it’s not just that the carrot is better than the stick. You raised the issue of weight loss, for instance. Objectively most people would probably agree that there are many advantages to not being overweight — health, social, personal, etc. You are aware of these, no doubt, and you care about the issue so you are trying to do what you have to do to lose weight you think is excess. But that’s not sufficient to make you do what would be potentially necessary to lose all the weight (drop everything, exercise like mad, eat nothing, remove all the stressors in your life that potentiate weight gain). That points out that (a) any desired behavior modification doesn’t happen independently of other factors around you, like metabolism, constraints on time, budget, sociability, etc. and (b) it’s not enough simply to know that the carrot is there, that (say) it’s better to be at an ideal weight than overweight. For me, anyway, the carrot has to outweigh the current situation or the stick (the penalty for not pursuing the carrot) by such a significant proportion that it becomes impossible to even consider not pursuing the carrot.

      • marieastra8 says:

        Yes. I was commenting/thinking of addiction to something, not applying it to my “obsession” with people, places, things, or Armitage. I have personal experience with addiction. I know that there are self-destructive behaviors that result from addiction. I do not classify my “obsessions” as such.
        I have personal experience in behavior modification. I have changed my own self-destructive behavior. I do not know if it is harder for men or women to change self-destructive behavior. I think it is a different thing to think of transformation from one relatively healthy state to another relatively healthy state (i.e. losing or gaining weight for an acting role) as opposed to transforming an ingrained unhealthy, self-destructive “addictive” behavior to a healthy one. They are different things, and I don’t mean to make it seem that they are the same. “Addiction” has a very different meaning to me than “Obsession”. And again, I apologize for any derogatory connotations to my use of “obsession”. Truly obsessive behavior is not a joke.

      • Servetus says:

        I personally think how we talk about things is important for transformation, but you should use the words that help you most. I think that in this case, though, there’s something about the wish-object that *constitutes* the carrot. (At least for me.) So one could ask oneself what that is — or why these specific cases of personal transformation fascinate you (as opposed to other ones).

      • marieastra8 says:

        Yes. The physical transformation is most important to me right now. I would love to be able to concentrate on losing weight in the way that HJ and RA seemed to be able to transform themselves into buff, muscular bodies for the roles they played. I do keep them in mind while I am eating my cottage cheese and yogurt! LOL! I think to myself, Damn, if they can do it, so can I!! LOL!!

  5. guylty says:

    As someone who has struggled with weight issues all her life, I had been wondering about the way Armitage gains and loses weight seemingly effortlessly, too. Especially when he lost 1 stone for Lucas North – from an already slim man, to a rather skinny one. How the hell??? I reach a plateau despite still being mildly overweight, but how can he lose weight when he’s already slim??? Yeah, life’s unfair, I understand that now after reading Serv’s explanations.
    So, all the more reason to congratulate you on your weight-loss to date! You are doing great – keep the momentum going. (And I’ll take inspiration from you and give myself a little push to come back to my feelgood-weight.)

    • marieastra8 says:

      Mmmm Lucas. Skinny, but in a good way. 😀 Thank you so much for your encouragement! The older you get, the harder it seems to be to drop those pounds. I am determined to do it, though, no matter how long it takes me!! That plateau thing SUCKS!! :/

      • guylty says:

        Yeah, everything becomes slower the older we get. Metabolism, weight-loss, brain activity 😉 Outside motivation is hugely important, I find. I am on the same mission at the mo, so I know how important it is to support. And I think you have the right attitude – it’s not about losing the weight fast (even though we would all prefer that) – it’s about losing it *at all* and *for good*. Small steps with reachable goals! And non-calorie treats along the way. (Gee, I wish I’d follow my own, good and unsolicited advice *haha*) You will do it.

  6. marieastra8 says:

    LOL! Def brain activity! I’m sure we will BOTH be amazing in our ability to stick with the program! I keep thinking of how I would like to look were I to ever run into RA in NYC. 😀 LOL!! Dream on…

  7. Well I dont know about slowing down, I suppose I have yet to hit the “slow” stage… you ladies do know that if you just watch what you eat you’ll be just fine right? Here’s what I look like: I will be 39yrs old tomorrow July 11th, I have had 3 children, I weigh 103lbs, stand at 5’5″, and I am a double 00 =) I loathe fast food, it is disgusting, and very bad for you too… thats how people got to be so huge… eat well, and you will live well.. you can find me on Facebook at or on Twitter Blackmtncommanche @Copperthekid feel free to stop by and say hi… and as for Richard Armitage: you are a wonderful person, I would love to meet you and hang out, but until I can get on an airplane without running for my life lol I will not be able to meet you in England.. sometime this fall I plan on conquering fears so I will pop up in London soonish for a visit so be there roflmao hugs to all have a great day!! All my love, CtK aka CoppertheKid, Westcoast Guardian

    • marieastra8 says:

      Thanks for the comment, Copperthekid! Yes, eat well and live well. It’s all in the definition. 😀 Don’t we all wish we could meet RA in person and hang out. No guarantees he will be in England anyway. Waiting with bated breath to see where he will turn up next!

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  9. Servetus says:

    I read a long interview w/Jackman today while in a hospital waiting room — Good Housekeeping, I think? Made me think of you.

    • marieastra8 says:

      LOL! Glad it brought you some distraction from your circumstances. What did you think about Jackman? Haven’t read the interview.

      • Servetus says:

        I thought the stuff about his own childhood (mother on another continent; religious upbringing) was v. interesting as well as his attempts to make sure he never spends more than two weeks away from his own kids/wife.

      • marieastra8 says:

        Yes. That is Hugh. I actually spoke to his mother. She was very guilty about abandoning the family, but he forgave her. His wife is lovely. Much older than him, but he adores her. His wife and kids are def his priority in life. I guess it comes from his experiences as a child.

      • Theresa says:

        When did you speak to Hugh’s mother? And how? Very cool!

      • NYCPAT says:

        LOL! Long story but it was at a performance of The Boy FromOz!!

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  11. Theresa says:

    I think it is hard for either sex to transform their bodies drastically. It is also not healthy for actors to continually fluctuate in weight.

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