Will Poulter is catching people's eyes with his muscular build and impressive height projected on the big screen as he joins the Marvel world in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Even as people get to know him as the "genetically engineered perfect being" that is Adam Warlock, the 30-year-old actor is still warming up to his evolved appearance and how it's being perceived.
"It's quite odd, because I've sort of formed my personality around looking a certain way," Poulter told the New York Times. "Psychologically, I’'m still 5-foot-4 because that’s what I was at school. Even being tall is something that I'm still getting used to!"
It's been a journey for the actor who gained notoriety when he starred as an awkward teen in We're the Millers and was subsequently perceived to be similar to the persona of the scrawny virgin character. And while the film premiered 11 years prior to his latest, audiences have yet to catch up.
"People are acting like I played Kenny Miller in 2013 and then woke up and now I look like I do, like there was some strange and mystical explanation behind it," he said. "I just grew up, like every other human being on Earth."
Poulter is far from the first person who has seemingly undergone a physical transformation before taking on a superhero role — actors Chris Pratt and Kumail Nanjiani previously received attention and praise for their own. And the British actor assured readers that it's not a quick process.
"If you want to do it in a way that's safe and is entirely natural, you have to be prepared to spend a long period of time doing it," he said, explaining to the publication that he began lifting weights and implementing a regular fitness routine at the start of the pandemic. "There's no way that I could've got into the shape that I got had I not been working out for a number of years prior and built up foundations."
He tells Yahoo that although it was "obviously hard, hard work" to maintain the necessary regimen, he benefitted from having the support of Marvel without being "put under any undue pressure" throughout the process.
"For any person in day-to-day life trying to do a big sort of physical transformation, you know, they're very costly, both in terms of time and money. And obviously I had the backing of a studio, so I was in a uniquely privileged position," he explains. "I got to assemble a team of people who really took care of me and helped me do it in a way that was safe and natural and prioritized my mental and physical health long term and, and ultimately didn't erode it that too much."
The positive impact on his mental health is something he feels is important to talk about.
"Obviously, there's a lot of pressure out there on young people, both men and women, regarding body image. I'm being kind of careful in the words, but if you're going to promote the process by which you achieved said body goal, I think you have to be fully transparent about how you got there," he explained to the New York Times, adding that he's felt frustrated by conversations implying he's taken other routes to get in the physical shape that he's in. "Does it bug me that anyone might believe that, or think that I went about it in a different way that would contradict what I'm an advocate of? For sure. But I guess it's about learning to relinquish your control over that sort of thing and just hope that there’s enough people who know what's up."
It's difficult with the "rumor mill," as he calls it. "My own mum was sending me something from someone being like, 'Has Will had plastic surgery?'"
Despite the accusations, he's focused on not letting either the negative or positive responses get to his head.
"It shouldn't inform how I treat myself, because I don't know those people," he said of the ways commenters online have both made fun of and praised him for his appearance. "One of the dangers with social media is we can conflate things that exist online to the real world without even questioning it."
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