Fitness

Jupiter’s Legacy Actor Ian Quinlan On His Muay Thai Training

In the new Netflix hit Jupiter’s Legacy, based on the works of iconic comic book writer Mark Millar, audiences got to follow the world’s first superheroes and supervillains and their children as they navigate the dynamics of family, power and loyalty over the decades. Born as the bi-racial son of the world’s greatest supervillain, Ian Quinlan portrays the enigmatic Hutch—a character who has had to learn to fight without the privilege of the superhuman powers his father felt he should have been born with. 

The New York Native, who trained with legendary Muay Thai fighter and world champion Coban Lookchaomaesaitong, talks to us about stepping up his fight training in preparation for the role, learning to take a punch, rediscovering his strength, and what martial arts have ultimately taught him. 

Let’s talk about your former Muay Thai training. How did you get into it to begin with? 

I like to stay active for sure. And I love a challenge. I think working out is a great way to stay healthy and fit, however, after many years of trying different workouts I found myself getting bored of lifting weights just to be able to lift heavier weights. It became a numbers game and I found myself highly unmotivated. So I decided to challenge myself and try my hand at a martial art and ended up at Muay Thai.  

Had you done any other martial arts before?  

I had done some Seito Karate growing up but was never truly committed to it. Tried boxing a couple times but felt Muay Thai was more all-encompassing as it involves legs, knees, and elbows. It’s called the art of eight limbs for that reason. 

Who had you been training in Muay Thai with? 

I trained with a man named Coban Lookchaomaesaitong at his gym in New York [now closed due to covid]. The man is a Muay Thai legend and world champion. I believe he retired at 23 with 273 fights under his belt. But he’s also super chill, a joyful human, and down to earth. Imagine if Michelangelo the Ninja Turtle taught you how to fight! 

“Once I booked Jupiter’s Legacy, I knew that there would be some fight sequences. With my character having no powers, I realized these fights would be very hands on—raw and gritty—and that I’d better be prepared for anything.”

How did you step up your training once you had been cast in Jupiter’s Legacy? 

Once I booked Jupiter’s Legacy, I knew that there would be some fight sequences. Also, with my character having no powers I realized these fights would be very hands on—raw and gritty—and that I’d better be prepared for anything. So I went from training three to four times a week for an hour to five to six two-hour sessions, plus taking Coban’s conditioning classes. I also started sparring, which in my case means I practiced learning to take a punch. It was intense but worth it.  Some of the trainers there are comic book fans, so when I told them the news about booking the show they were like, “So I guess we gotta kick your ass then, huh?”

Ian Quinlan on leo edit
Courtesy of Netflix

What about the character made you feel you would needed to train harder? 

Hutch is a guy with no powers who grew up in a world of people with superpowers—super strength, invulnerability, etc. Also, this is a guy who has probably had to fight for everything he’s ever had. That spoke a lot to me. I wanted this guy to look like a scrapper because he’s had to be. I believe there was a time he didn’t have his power rod—a device that allows him to teleport anywhere in the world with just a word. So I wanted him to look like a guy who has probably had to sprint from the law or danger on several occasions. Most likely the law! [Laughs] He also has a tremendous amount of drive, as he is on a quest to reunite with his father by any means necessary. I wanted to show a man who has the sheer grit and determination to achieve what he sets out to do. 

What did you feel you learned about Muay Thai that you hadn’t previously? 

I loved working out with Nick Robinson, our conditioning trainer for the show, and the cast. Nick is a tremendous trainer, and when I told him about my love of Muay Thai, he created a workout to compliment it which aided my goals for the show and character and ultimately made me a much better fighter. The things I learned from Muay Thai I will forever take with me in life.  First off is the cultural aspect. Muay Thai is to Thailand what soccer is to Brazil. Maybe even bigger. Kids start fighting incredibly early to provide for their families. Coban himself did that actually. He saw a group of fighters make easy money at a local exhibition at a fair and then went home and made a heavy bag by filling a sack with rice. He taught himself till he got sponsored and could provide for those he loved.  

What also drew me was the community. I wasn’t lifting by myself, staring at my form in a mirror with headphones. I was working out with different people every class, all at varying levels. Some were better than me. Some were not. But we were all there to make each other better.  That extended into the personal, which was a particular revelation to me. Fight sports tend to be a great catalyst to “work out your issues,” and while you might find some people working out their anger, I also found a lot of people trying to rediscover their strength. People literally duking it out with tragedy, loss, insecurity—and the community is here for it.  I had one guy punch me in the face during a sparring session and then place his hand on my shoulder and gently say, “Can I tell you something? It’s okay for you to go at your own pace.” I remember a particularly difficult point in my life. I ended up crying in a workout session in front of this seemingly “hard” man. He said, “You good?” “Yeah. It’s just been a hard week,” I replied. He said, “That’s okay. We’re just gonna work that shit out. Forget the combo. Just listen to my voice and hit what I call out.” He got me through. I thought he was going to shame or ridicule me, but he carried me through the rest of the session. It’s this mix of conditioning and wrestling with the blows life throws at you that has kept me going for all these years. 

“One thing they teach you early on in Muay Thai is that anger is your enemy. When you’re angry you hold your breath, you get sloppy, you leave yourself open. You have to learn to channel it towards something positive if you plan to win. I think that’s something Hutch had to learn very early on.”

How did you incorporate your training into the role? 

Though he presents an air of effortlessness, I think Hutch is battling a lot. His father and he are estranged, I think he resents the Union and the Utopian for all of it. But he also has found a solid family in his crew who are his ride-or-dies and have had his back since childhood. One thing they teach you early on in Muay Thai is that anger is your enemy. When you’re angry, you hold your breath, you get sloppy, you leave yourself open. You have to learn to channel it towards something positive if you plan to win. I think that’s something Hutch had to learn very early on.  

How involved were you with your fight scenes or stunts in the show? Did you work with a double or a stunt man?

It was a good thing I trained because I was given an hour to learn the fight sequence a couple days before shooting. Then it was two, fifteen hour days of straight up grappling while shooting to capture the scene. Wardrobe had several shirts on standby because I kept sweating through them. I had a stunt man, Brent Jones, who is incredible! He did all the really dangerous stuff—don’t want to spoil it! He would watch the takes on screen and then come over to give me pointers to make sure I really nailed the scene. I was so thankful to have him on set, as well as the instruction of our fight choreographer Phil Silvera, his right-hand man Micah Karns, and the entire stunt team who were great scene partners.  

Ian Quinlan on leo edit
Courtesy of Netflix

How has the role affected your perspective on your training?

I would actually say my training helped inform Hutch and create a more three-dimensional character. 

What is it about Muay Thai and martial arts you are drawn to? 

Honestly, failure. I was straight-up trash for the first two months! [Laughs] And that was really humbling. But pushing through that discomfort to get to where I am now was well worth it in the end. I also feel I have a healthier relationship with my body as a result. What helped me personally was it got me out of my head. I stopped worrying about how much I could bench or squat and started learning form, how to flow, rhythm, and balance. I think there’s a trap to working out. Worrying about whether your biceps are big enough, your abs are defined enough. In this context, I was learning to fit my body towards a purpose. My purpose was not my body. 

Ultimately, what are your fitness goals?  

I love challenges that also leave me feeling enriched mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.  For example, I’ve started surfing since Covid. I went to Hawaii for a month in March. Again, I’m still not good at all. But it’s helped me get over my fear of the ocean—I’ve even learned to love it—as well as being a catalyst for me to learn about the culture and heritage of Pacific Islanders. It also burns a ton of calories and shreds your upper body.  

IAN TRAINING AT COBAN’S MUAY THAI CAMP

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As Hutch Hutchence on Netflix’s Jupiter’s Legacy

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