Growing up in suburban Sydney, Jai Courtney watched Bruce Willis kick ass in the original Die Hard movies. “They were just classic action films,” he remembers. “John McClane was definitely a hero of mine.” Things have come full circle for the Aussie actor: Courtney plays John Jr. in the franchise’s latest installment, A Good Day to Die Hard. (Courtney was tight-lipped about whether he gets to say “Yippee-kai-yay, motherf—er,” but he does reveal that the action-packed sequel is “absolute carnage and chaos—and I doubt it will disappoint the fans.”)
Good Day (or is it G’Day?) continues into a good year for Courtney that started when he played a villainous sharpshooter who tussled with Tom Cruise’s titular protagonist in December’s Jack Reacher. Courtney says it was “pretty surreal” to work with such Hollywood heavyweights as Cruise and Willis—both of whom are still among the fittest actors in the business. “Tom and I had a chat once on set about his philosophy of ‘keeping the motor running,” Courtney says. “While we were getting set up for another shot, he was [working out] in the gym. There was a gym on the Die Hard set, too, so Bruce also had that mentality. And I’ve adopted it as well.”
In the past, Courtney has kept his motor running by engaging in sports and outdoor pursuits. “I trained in swimming, and when I was 12, I started rugby and played for 10 years,” he says. “These days I don’t get time to commit to anything wholeheartedly. The last time I played rugby, I busted my nose bad and that’s incentive not to get down and dirty in the park anymore.”
These days, Courtney constantly changes up his workouts. “I’m not someone who has a lengthy attention span, and that applies to my exercise routine as well,” he says. Courtney does a lot of TRX Suspension Training or “gets creative” with a simple setup in his living room consisting of a Swiss ball and dumbbells.
For two years, Courtney was an unemployed actor, using his savings to commute from Australia to L.A. for auditions. Now, with two high-profile projects under his belt, Courtney’s days of relative anonymity are inevitably numbered. “I’ve been approached by a couple of people who’ve recognized me from Jack Reacher. It’s great…when the feedback’s positive,” he says, with a chuckle. “I don’t know if I look forward to the day when I can’t go out and get a cup of coffee. I kinda hope that day never happens.” If things play out the way we think, Courtney might have to consider brewing his cup of joe at home.