To create a sculpted physique for his film projects, Jonathan Majors has to watch what he eats when training. But diet be damned – sort of – when his mom is cooking.
“Here’s the thing, I’m just going to make sure that Thanksgiving is the cheat day. It’s just going to go down,” the 33-year-old actor says with a laugh.
Majors, who stars as real-life Black aviator Jesse Brown in the Korean War drama “Devotion” (in theaters now), packed on 10 pounds of muscle to rule as Kang the Conqueror in Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” (out Feb. 17). Then he got bigger and more ripped to co-star alongside Michael B. Jordan as ex-con boxer Damian Anderson in “Creed III” (March 3) and then got even bigger to play bodybuilder Killian in the upcoming “Magazine Dreams.”
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Transforming himself for roles has been part of Majors’ process for the past two years – and is a far cry from being a teenage athlete in Texas or the drama school student who danced, stretched and took yoga classes.
“I enjoy it. There’s so much learning to be done,” Majors says. “We take our bodies for granted. Like our brains, they have capabilities of unknown potential and, within our art form, they are integral to the presentation of the story.
“They say the body is a temple. Well, if you go with the spiritual practice of acting, I believe it is.”
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When he’s running lines to himself while working out, “something will happen. It’s been told to me that I’ll shift and all of a sudden it’s Damian or it’s Kang or it’s Killian that’s hitting it.
“Those characters are real or are trying to become real for a moment and they start to show up. That’s just a very cool thing to experience.”
Director Peyton Reed reports that Majors would arrive on the “Quantumania” set and “do laps around the stage” in his Kang suit. “He was ready with his physicality and the way that sort of manifested, you felt him sort of putting his power on in the morning – like the way you’d put your pants on or put a shirt on. It was fascinating to watch.”
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The next role that will necessitate a body shift: playing hoops icon Dennis Rodman in the upcoming “48 Hours in Vegas,” a drama about the time Rodman was playing for the Chicago Bulls and went to Sin City in the middle of the 1998 NBA Finals. . Majors bought “proper basketball gear” recently when he was at a Nike store in London and feels that everything visual about Rodman is important, from the hair to his physical shape.
“If you look at Rodman compared to other ball players in his time, he’s quite beautiful. His body is stronger than the other guys,” Majors says. “The more chaos that’s happening outside, the more essentially powerful he begins to look and move.
“I’m quite interested in that, the internal and the external. So stay tuned.”
While specialized training for roles is “the best thing in the world,” Major acknowledges there are headaches. And he’s usually thinking about his next meal. But pushing himself to exhaustion regularly is working out for his well-being.
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“Trust me, it’s a good feeling to wake up in the morning and hop right up and be ready to go,” he says. “It’s a good feeling to see the car take off and know you can catch it, or be on the plane and see somebody struggling with their bag and be like, ‘Oh, what? No problem.’ “
Majors is definitely going to feed that machine when he and his 9-year-old daughter participate in Thanksgiving, although his favorite dishes have changed over the years. “When I was growing up, I wanted just the turkey,” he recalls. “But then it became the ham. I think now I’m kind of in the dressing phase and the collard greens. Little green, little carb. That’ll get you through.”
Eating right is still on the table, too: “I’m going to go home and tell my mom, ‘Hey, Mom, let me have some sweet potatoes.’ And she’s going to freak out. I’ve never liked them, but with all this diet and stuff, sweet potatoes have become a thing. They’re good for you, it’s a superfood. So maybe we’ll see how that goes.”
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