You may still need a jacket to go to the theater, but Hollywood has declared the start to the summer movie season, and X-Men's Hugh Jackman is already seeing his star rising.
Jackman's turn as Wolverine in the original X-Man three years ago was a star-making performance. This weekend the sequel X2: X-Men United heralded the start of summer action movie releases in fine style, debuting with $85.85 million domestically.
That's the fourth-best opening-weekend gross ever and a 58 percent increase over the original blockbustser.
Still, Jackman told Good Morning America that it's hard to think of himself as a muscle-bound action hero. To get in shape to play Wolverine, he even jokes that the studio had to whip him into shape with a personal trainer and nutritionist.
"I think they thought of an Australian's version of a diet is six beers a day instead of 12," says Jackman, 34, who shows a lot more of himself in the new film, including one chase scene when he's running down a tunnel virtually nude.
"I was assured that I was backlit very heavily," he jokes. "I'll have to check it out on the DVD." Is Jackman Too Beautiful to Kid Himself?
Jackman might not find it easy to make fun of his looks. Last week, he was named to People magazine's list of the 50 most beautiful people, with the magazine saying he possessed "the sexiest smolder in superherodom."
Jackman hasgrown his hair long, shedding his X-Man look. In his new film Van Helsing, set in 1898, he plays a vampire hunter. But he says he has a bigger reason for the new look: "My wife loves long hair," he says.
"My wife braids my hair at night," he says. "It's not very sexy."
In the new X-Men movie, Jackman is reunited with Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as mutants with superhuman abilities that include telepathy and shape-shifting.
The sequel teams good and bad mutants against a human enemy who has hatched a plan to destroy their race.
Teenagers can relate to the mutants, Jackman says. "This movie is a lot about accepting people who are different," he says.
But beyond that, X-Men is a good time. On the set, while in his Wolverine costume, Jackman admits that he put marshmallows on his claws to get a laugh out of his cast members. More Box Office Marvels to Come
The X-Men boost at the box office couldn't come at a better time for Hollywood, which has been in a slump so far this year.
Even with the big opening this past weekend, the top 12 movies grossed $140.8 million, off 7.6 percent compared to the same weekend last year, when Spider-Man debuted and set a weekend box office record at $114.8 million.
The first two Harry Potter movies had the second- and third-best openings, $90.3 million for Sorcerer's Stone and $88.4 million for Chamber of Secrets.
X-Men is based on a Marvel comic book title and follows a string of superhero-inspired movies, including Spider-Man, Daredevil and Blade II. Marvel's The Hulk opens next month.