Jai Courtney On Seeking Out New Challenges, Hitting New Peaks

Jai Courtney on seeking out new challenges and hitting new peaks

The Aussie actor and host of ‘The Summit’, spills on navigating a Hollywood career, the challenges of bulking up and shredding down for movie roles and why his latest show has inspired him to keep taking chances

THE JAI COURTNEY who appears on my computer screen during a video call to his new home in upstate New York is some way removed from the one who last spoke to Men’s Health. That was way back in 2014, when Courtney featured on our cover during the rollout of his sci-fi film Divergent. It’s a time he looks back fondly on.

“Things were pretty busy back then,” says the 38-year-old from Sydney, who at the time was still getting used to the machinery and theatrics that accompany the launch of a Hollywood blockbuster. “I remember doing that shoot in Sydney and I think I had my bike there. Things were really picking up and I was moving around a lot. I probably was in halfway decent shape. That comes and goes depending on where I’m at and what I’m focused on.”

A decade later and Courtney, who went on play pivotal roles in multiplex monsters like Terminator Genisys and Suicide Squad, has transformed from hot young up-and-comer to grizzled Hollywood veteran, one who knows just how tricky it can be to plot your path through tinsel town.

“There’s angst around whether that next role even comes in, what that thing becomes,” says Courtney, who’s speaking to Men’s Health today on The Turning Point podcast. “You just don’t have a lot of control in this business. The control is with someone else. There’s no job security in what we do, and there’s a lot of misunderstanding about it. Even actors you perceive to be killing it, it’s all job to job. There’s no resting. There’s no, Oh, well, if nothing else ever happens, I’ll be sweet. You wouldn’t, you’d be fucked. So, you’re constantly fighting for it and constantly trying to do good work.”

The physical nature of some of Courtney’s roles mean he knows better than most how his body responds to dedicated training and targeted nutrition, though he admits it’s harder to get in matinee-idol shape as you get older.

“I feel like you get denser and just as men, we know how it goes, you expand somewhat,” says Courtney. “It’s funny, I was unpacking some stuff the other day, and there’s suits that I was wearing probably 10 years ago when we shot that cover. And I tried to put a jacket on just to see if they were even relevant for keeping in the car and I was like, What the fuck? I couldn’t even get my shoulders in. I was like, Who is this guy? I feel like changing shape for something in the lead up to it is a blast. That’s fun. There’s a creative energy around that. But it gets tough when you’re maintaining it. That’s where the challenge lies.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jai Courtney (@jaicourtney)

Powerfully built, Courtney finds it easier to add bulk than slim down. “I’m a bigger dude, I’m never skinny ever,” he says. “I hold size quite well. The challenge is really just staying fit because if I stop moving, it really starts to grab on. But for Terminator, I got really small and that was pretty gruelling. That was probably quite an antiquated approach. Now there’s so many philosophies in fitness and nutrition and what to do, but I mean this still works. It was a lot of low impact cardio, fasted cardio, which is a mind-numbing process, but no one can deny the benefits of walking empty. It’s really effective for getting body fat off. And so, there was a lot of uphill treadmill for a couple of months, three months probably before that film. And then I was eating almost exclusively wild caught salmon and shitloads of tomatoes. I was using nuts for fats. It wasn’t necessarily a fun way to do it, but it doesn’t always have to be.”

Courtney’s currently hosting season 2 of The Summit on Channel 9. While a veteran behind the camera, presenting a reality show represented a new challenge for the actor.

“It’s a different energy for sure,” says Courtney, “but The Summit really was the show that allowed me to consider stepping into that role. I was a little nervous, to be honest, because I haven’t really played in that space, but they sold me on how cool this thing could be. And it delivers. It’s so much fun to make.”

In case you missed season one, the show tasks contestants to ascend to the top of a mountain, undertaking various tasks along the way. Each contestant has a backpack with a portion of the grand prize of $1 million. It challenges the contestants to look within themselves to bring out their best, something Courtney says struck a chord with him.

“It’s action-packed and really tough on the contestants, but it’s really special because they all go through a life-changing experience,” he says. “For some of them it breaks them and they have to confront some heavy truths about what they thought they were capable of. And for some, it’s exactly that and they’re able to overcome massive obstacles in their lives. And that’s an incredibly powerful thing, when you can push yourself past what you think is possible and have a breakthrough, then you move on and you can tackle other things in your life with a renewed sense of confidence and possibility.”

Courtney should know. He’s made a career out of doing just that.

The Summit season 2 airs Sundays –Tuesdays at 7pm on Channel 9 and 9Now.

Listen to Jai’s episode on The Turning Point podcast:


Jai Courtney Shares The Fitness Hacks Behind His Bulk

How Travis Jeffery got ripped for Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

By Ben Jhoty

Ben Jhoty, Men’s Health’s Head of Content, attempts to honour the brand’s health-conscious, aspirational ethos on weekdays while living marginally larger on weekends. A new father, when he’s not rocking an infant to sleep, he tries to get to the gym, shoot hoops and binge on streaming shows.

More From