Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman: The “Deadpool & Wolverine ”Stars Reveal 'Secret Sauce' to Their 17-Year Friendship

Reynolds says his 17-year friendship with Jackman is like his marriage to Blake Lively in one key way

Even superheroes like Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman need to phone a friend sometimes.

Famous for their faux-feud sparring on social media — and primed to take over the summer movie season with their bombastic, R-rated Deadpool & Wolverine — off-screen, the witty duo’s real-life friendship is profound.

“We rely on each other for the real kind of advice that you want,” Reynolds says in this week’s cover story, which marks PEOPLE's first-ever collectible side-by-side covers featuring both stars.

On July 26, their 17-year bond culminates in the third installment of Reynolds’ raucous franchise, and the first project to reunite Deadpool with Wolverine since the two first met on the set of Jackman’s film X-Men Origins: Wolverine. (It also marks the first time Deadpool’s raunchy shenanigans have entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)

Inside the issue, on stands Friday, the two stars interview each other, opening up about how they offer one another rock-solid support while navigating impressive Hollywood careers, fatherhood and life’s tougher moments.

"There's probably fewer friends in our life that you can say anything to, the stuff you're ashamed, embarrassed, anything,” Jackman, 55, tells Reynolds, 47.

Related: A History of Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds' Ongoing Feud from Trolling Birthdays to Spoofs

<p><a href="https://www.instagram.com/guyaroch/" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="externalLink" data-ordinal="1">Guy Aroch</a></p> Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds

Guy Aroch

Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds

“And ever since I've known you, and I would say in particular in like the last five, 10 years, we've had more time where we go for our walks because you're an unbelievable listener," adds Jackman. "So you can tell me anything and I can tell you anything, and I don't feel like you're going to be judging or necessarily giving me the answer: ‘Do this.’ And I think that has been the key.”

The feeling is mutual. “I think the secret sauce to a long-lasting Hollywood friendship is not too dissimilar to having a partner or a marriage,” says Reynolds, speaking to Jackman.

“I am genuinely rooting for you, all the time. I want you to win. It’s the same way I feel about Blake. As I'm rooting for her, I know she's rooting for me, and it's why we're so connected.”

<p><a href="https://www.instagram.com/guyaroch/" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="externalLink" data-ordinal="1">Guy Aroch</a></p> Covers of PEOPLE's June 10, 2024 issue

Guy Aroch

Covers of PEOPLE's June 10, 2024 issue

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Reynolds still hasn’t forgotten the unexpected warmth he found back in 2008 when the two stars first met. The actor, who shares four kids with wife Lively, had arrived in Sydney as an unproven X-Men entity about to debut his rapid-patter take on Deadpool for the first time. The Jackman vehicle was the biggest film the actor had ever been in, and he’d been hired just weeks before.

Walking on set for the first time, “I was blown away.  And I was nervous as hell,” recalls Reynolds. “I was walking through the trailers, jet-lagged, disoriented, feeling really green and kind of out of my depth, and there was no script to look at. It was just like, what's going to happen?”

He continues: “And I heard my name, ‘Ryan!’ in between these trailers as I was walking. And it was you. Just the fact that you knew my name meant so much to me. And you came over, you gave me a big hug and you said, ‘Welcome aboard.’ ”

Related: Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman Are ‘Electric’, Says Deadpool 3 Director Shawn Levy (Exclusive)

<p>Jay Maidmen</p>

Jay Maidmen

Cut to Deadpool & Wolverine. “And I remember the first day of this [movie] and you came, and you did the same thing,” grins Jackman. “You came over and you went, "Steve!"

Reynolds adds with a laugh, “Greg? No, don’t tell me.”

But watching Jackman operate on that early set, says Reynolds, ultimately taught him what it meant to lead — and how to pay kindness forward, particularly in how the Wolverine star is inherently gracious to “not just the people that can change your destiny, but everybody.”

Still, for Deadpool & Wolverine Reynolds had to persuade Jackman to revive the X-Men character that he’d firmly put to bed with 2017’s critically acclaimed Logan.

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The role represented both existential challenges (Reynolds had to figure out how the film would make sense for fans who had said goodbye to the beloved character) and physical demands, with Jackman committing to an intense exercise regimen.

“I had got to the point probably 10 years ago I was like, I'm not enjoying it. It was hurting. It was tough," Jackman says. “But I've had a break, and I've been doing a lot of dance. I've been doing stage shows. And so when I came back to it, it was really fun.”

Reynolds would come to marvel at Jackman’s commitment to hitting his mark.

“When Hugh Jackman is coming at you at 150 Australian miles per hour, you feel like there's no way you're not going to be dead in four seconds,” notes Reynolds. “And I will never forget that. And thank God I'm in a mask, because under the mask my face is going, 'Oh God!'"

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