How Will Poulter Got Jacked To Play Adam Warlock
When the trailer for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" dropped, we finally got our first look at Will Poulter as Adam Warlock, the superhero who was genetically engineered to be the perfect man. Not only is Warlock a powerful character and an important part of the Marvel canon, but he’s also one of the MCU’s most long-awaited arrivals, having been teased way back in a post-credits scene in 2017’s "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2." For Poulter, that means some massive shoes to fill — along with an equally massive physique to build. Although the "Midsommar" and "Dopesick" actor isn’t known for being jacked in any of his previous roles — with his turn in "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch" even sparking a wave of online backlash for his seemingly unhealthy appearance — Poulter rose to the challenge as if he truly was more than human.
Following his casting by director James Gunn, Poulter got to work, exercising and dieting to transform himself into an impressively buff specimen that looks ready to arm-wrestle Chris Hemsworth’s Thor himself. Let’s explore the method behind that muscled-up madness as we share how Poulter got jacked to play Adam Warlock.
Following a rigid routine
As many actors have attested, the creation of a superhero physique is an unbelievably grueling process. Bulking up and shaping up is hard work for anyone, especially when it means transforming, for example, a comedy actor like Ryan Reynolds into Deadpool, or the diminutive Natalie Portman into the Mighty Thor. Will Poulter’s superhero upgrade is no exception, and the actor has opened up about the challenges involved in his "rigid" routine.
In an interview with the Independent, Poulter mentioned how his whole life essentially became training, consisting of "a lot of gym work and a very, very specific diet." He also explained the sacrifices involved in spending so much time exercising and eating, saying, "The whole social side of your life has to take a back seat. I’m in a routine that is so rigid that being able to go out for dinner with friends is not something I’ve been able to do." For Poulter, like anyone who jumps headlong into building a cinema-worthy superhero bod, the process is as much about what you can’t do as it is about what you have to do.
Poulter started immediately
If there is any one fact that will surprise you about Will Poulter’s transformation from regular human to superhero, it’s likely to be how fast the actor moves. Piecing together the timeline of his involvement with "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," it’s clear that he wasted no time in beginning to bulk up.
The first news of Poulter’s casting in the role came on October 11, 2021, via Deadline, and was confirmed the same day by James Gunn. Within two short days, the actor had already revealed that he was getting in shape. In an interview with Flip Your Wig on October 13, 2021, Poulter said that he had started the process of physically becoming Warlock, and it showed even then. Poulter’s arms were visibly larger than normal, and though he (in typical Poulter fashion) humbly attributed his growth to simply trying to keep busy during the pandemic, it’s almost a certainty that those biceps were a product of his training. Given that Poulter was short-listed for the role around two months previously (according to Deadline), it’s likely that Poulter was working out before the world even knew he had landed the role.
A series of diets
As Hugh Jackman once told Men’s Fitness, "The way you wanna look is 70% determined by your diet and only 30% by your training," and you simply have to trust the words of a man who went from singing on Broadway to slicing as Wolverine. Will Poulter certainly agrees, as the majority of his responses when asked about his newfound musculature are about eating instead of exercising.
Poulter didn’t eat indiscriminately, however. As he told the Independent, his trainers kept him on "a very, very specific diet" which often entailed "quantities of food you wouldn’t necessarily want to ingest. And other times not enough food. I’ve gone through a series of different diets over the last few months." Though he didn’t get much more specific due to Marvel’s policy of being — as Poulter put it — "all secret squirrel," he at least confirmed that he was given separate diets for building mass, then cutting fat, and then maintaining weight. His interview with GQ went much the same way: Poulter avoided any specifics about his diet, but did bring a protein shake with him for the interview — a 10 a.m. interview — which, as reporter Ben Allen noted, "speaks volumes."
One thing at a time
Like a lot of high-profile actors, Will Poulter seemingly spends most of his life in a state of perpetual work. Case in point: most of the information about his Warlock workouts has come in the midst of interviews about his series "Dopesick." According to Poulter, however, when it came time to become Adam Warlock, he set everything else aside and made the transformation his life.
Speaking with GQ, he asserted that Warlock was his only occupation at that moment, saying he was "definitely locking in and training my focus on that role and that role alone." In other words, as he told Variety, "It was actually my job to just to kind of train and eat." An interesting expression that supports Poulter’s dedication to the routine is his repeated use of the phrase "I went away" (or some variation) when discussing his process. He makes it clear that, to a large extent, he shut himself off from the world and just focused on working out, consuming calories, and building muscle mass. For someone whose career potentially enables them to take on multiple projects at the same time and earn some major cash from each, his commitment to training solely for one job is admirable.
Probably the most common sentiment that Will Poulter expresses when discussing his metamorphosis into Adam Warlock is how much studio support he had throughout —and how grateful he is for it. Essentially every time he’s asked about his newly bulging biceps, he cites the financial, physical, and mental support that Marvel and their affiliates gave him throughout the entirety of the process.
As Poulter told the Independent, preparations like his are only made possible by the "financial backing of a studio paying for your meals and training." He later echoed the sentiment to Us Weekly, saying, "I was incredibly well supported and couldn’t have had more help in the respect of the diet and the training that was required. That was key. Certainly not something I went away and did on my own." He also mentions his trainers often, citing them as curating his workouts and creating his different diet plans. Despite all his "secret squirrel" avoidance of discussing particular exercises, meals, and schedules, it’s apparent that no matter what he did, he did it alongside some of the best trainers that Marvel could get — which, given the studio’s history and status, likely means the best trainers anyone could get.
Mental health comes first
One specific aspect of Poulter’s evolution into Adam Warlock has drawn more attention and appeared in more headlines than any other: his emphatic assertion that mental health is more important than anything else when undergoing such a strenuous endeavor.
In particular, one quote from his Independent interview has sat at the center of the media focus, in which he states, "The most important thing is that your mental and physical health has to be number one, and the aesthetic goals have to be secondary, otherwise you end up promoting something that is unhealthy and unrealistic … I’m in a very privileged position in that respect, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone do what I did to get ready for that job."
The quote has drawn its share of analysis and praise, but regardless of what anyone else believes, it’s clear that Poulter deeply values his mental health and went into the process of building a new body in a thoughtful, holistic way. For Poulter, who plays a genetically-engineered superbeing in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," the transformation process itself had to be super — and engineered just right.