Hugh Jackman returns as the grumpy Canadian in this summer's "The Wolverine."

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Hugh Jackman returns in "The Wolverine" as the X-Men mutant

The big question for him in the summer movie is one of mortality

Jackman ate 6,000 calories and trained for three hours daily in preparation

"The Wolverine" will be darker but just as action-packed as previous "X-Men" films

CNN  — 

When we think of the perfect summer blockbuster, we think of action – and July’s “The Wolverine” will have more than enough, star Hugh Jackman says.

The 44-year-old is back for another round as the ferocious mutant Logan/Wolverine, but James Mangold’s take is somewhat darker than its predecessors.

As the trailers have shown, the typically sly Logan appears to be in a pretty serious funk as he’s haunted by thoughts of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). When a man whose life he once saved summons him to Japan, the ageless mutant is presented with an offer of mortality as a so-called expression of gratitude.

“He’s sort of interested in it, because if your life is not great and there is a lot of regret and pain, would it be great to live on and on?” Jackman said of his character’s dilemma. And yet, as Wolverine hints in the trailer, the time hasn’t come where he has nothing left to live for.

Fans are anticipating seeing the iconic “X-Men” character put up an intense fight against his foes – part of which happens atop a bullet train, as previews have shown.

“The only bad thing about filming a scene on the bullet train is that the wind machines are so powerful that when you watch it back on the monitor, you’re like, ‘man, I got to get a facelift because there’s just skin flying everywhere,’ ” Jackman joked. “When I was lying on that train, I would just get pushed back – and a couple of times, I just fell off of the train.”

But, as a guy who loves the “popcorn element” of summer movies, he knows those sorts of action sequences are what audiences are hoping for.

“Yes, (‘The Wolverine’) is a character piece, and I would say it may be a little darker in tone than the others, and it certainly feels a little different, (but) it’s just as much fun,” Jackman said. “The action is probably in this is more inventive than we’ve ever had before.”

CNN’s Nischelle Turner spoke with Jackman about how he bulked up once again, his character’s vulnerable side and why Wolverine makes a pretty solid wingman for a teen.

CNN: Looking at you, the only thing I can say is, “Wolverine is back!”

Hugh Jackman: He’s back, and I couldn’t be happier. I never in a million years would’ve thought (that) I’d still be playing this character (12 years later). It kind of really is shocking to me, but at the same time, it’s such an instant gratitude, because I love this character.

CNN: So you know him now, really know him?

Jackman: I hope so. I feel like I do. I certainly feel proprietorial over him, and, you know, I have now read a lot of (the) comic books. Being someone who had never read the comic books, when I first heard about the audition, I was like, ‘They want me to play Brian Maddox?’ who is the lead of this Aussie rock band called the Uncanny X-Men. … So I knew nothing. It’s been a great ride.

CNN: This picks up after “X-Men 3,” so we do know that Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) has met her demise – but I’ve seen the trailers. She’s there!

Jackman: I don’t want to give away too much. She is there in the way that loved ones are always there … in a very real way, she’s there.

CNN: Is it safe to say that Wolverine, especially in this movie, is a little bit of a sensitive superhero?

Jackman: He’s certainly more vulnerable.

CNN: He’s a broken man, a bit.

Jackman: Oh, yeah. I mean, Wolverine is the toughest superhero. I may be biased, but I think he’s the toughest. He doesn’t necessarily have the strongest powers on paper, but … he’s the one guy who you don’t want to be on his bad side. In this movie, however, you kind of see the toll of that; we start with him questioning everything. His life has been dominated by pain, by regret, mistakes …

CNN: He loses the love of his life.

Jackman: (He) loses the love of his life, (and) we’ve seen that impact. He’s one of those people where whenever he gets close to someone, bad things tend to happen. So in a way, not only for himself but for the world, he decides to just completely go off the reservation and sort of deny who he is and be like a recluse.

CNN: But there is something that’s bringing him back

Jackman: There is something bringing him back. … He just can’t help himself, you know? I think the thing I love about him is, you know, he’s reluctant, he doesn’t want to get involved, he’s not an idealist, but at the end of the day when there is an injustice, he can’t help but rise to the occasion.

CNN: He’s such a great character. (Playing him) had to raise the cool factor by 20 million with your kids.

Jackman: It does, yeah. Except now my son’s turning 13, and he’s like, “you’re really nothing like Wolverine, are you?”

CNN: Does he use that to attract girls?

Jackman: This is very weird, but on some level, I’m kind of a wingman for my son, who’s turning 13. This sounds very politically incorrect, but it’s weird because most of the time, he doesn’t want to talk about it with me. He doesn’t talk about it much; he just wants me to be Dad. But I spotted him at the beach a couple years back, and he was talking to some girl who must have been 14 or 15. I was like, “Hmm … like father, like son.” And all of a sudden, he’s pointing at me, and he walks over towards me. And he’s sort of walking ahead of the girl, he’s about 20 yards in front of the girl, and he’s going, “Dad … Wolverine. Just give an autograph, will you?” And I was like, “OK.”

CNN: You sealed the deal for your son!

Jackman: For my then-11-year-old son! I know! If you see me in bars in about 10 years time, stop me!

CNN: Does the process of bulking up ever get tedious? I mean, there’s muscles everywhere.

Jackman: I’ll be honest with you, I kind of love it; I love the challenge of it. My personality is, ‘I have to be in better shape than the last time.” … I feel really blessed to have the role, and I want to do it better every time, and so for me, the physicality of Wolverine is everything. I’ve realized it’s preparation, it’s time. Like in some of the old movies, you could see I didn’t have time to prep. And I’m 44 now, so I need the time.

CNN: How much time did you spend getting ready?

Jackman: Three hours a day. I had a mentor, Dwayne Johnson, the Rock. We’re mates, and I said, ‘Mate, I need to know what you do.” And he said, “Tell me you’ve got six months? … You need six months to do this.” He told me the diet – 6,000 calories – (and that) you have to train like no one else.

CNN: What does 6,000 calories a day consist of?

Jackman: It’s six meals, with each meal having some kind of protein – chicken, steak, fish, eggs – a lot of it. Brown rice. If you’re lucky enough, as you’re bulking, you get brown rice or sweet potato. And then in the last month, I cut all the carbs out, and then it’s a lot of steamed veggies. It’s pretty plain, there’s no salt, very little seasoning. And that’s the big that gets hard.

This is what I learned: When I started, I used to think, “You want to be bigger? You want to be in better shape? Train harder, train harder, train harder!” It’s not not (that), it’s the food. Seventy percent of the way you look is your diet, 30% is your training. So if there’s anything you’ve got to concentrate on, it’s the food.

CNN: When you’re done, what’s the first thing you go for?

Jackman: Lasagna, ice cream, desserts, pizza … All that stuff.

CNN: That’s probably one of the happiest days of your life.

Jackman: So good. I love it so much. I eat pretty much everything.

“The Wolverine” opens in the U.S. on July 26.

CNN’s Breeanna Hare contributed to this report.