Any man who plays Tarzan needs to be tough, but it wasn't the gorillas or tribal warriors that were Alexander Skarsgard's biggest threat.

The Swedish actor had to face a beating from Australian actress Margot Robbie who plays Jane to his Tarzan in the upcoming movie incarnation of the familiar tale.

Naz is boxing pretty
Best mates and babies for Shorty star

However it was all in the name of passion as Skarsgard says the injuries came from their sex scenes.


Robbie also revealed to the media that she actually punched her co-star during these passionate moments, but Skarsgard says there was method to this madness.

"There is a sex scene in the movie when they return to the Congo village where Jane grew up and it's the first sex scene in the movie.

"Soon after that they're torn apart and the drive is for them to get back together, so it's important to make it a passionate moment," Skarsgard said.

The actors were encouraged to go a little bit further by the film's director, David Yates.

"We shot the scene and he (Yates) wanted it to be primordial so, from behind the camera, he would scream 'Margot, claw him, pound him, hit him', because he was like 'It's Tarzan and Jane. When they have sex, it's got to be out of this world'," he said.

"So yeah I was slightly bruised and I got scratches and stuff."

Skarsgard, who spends quite a large proportion of the film shirtless, put a lot of work into getting in shape before filming.

"Lots of weight-lifting and chicken breasts, the first phase was just to kind of bulk up and put on weight, so I ate and worked out," he said.

However, he also took the slightly less conventional route of working with an award-winning British choreographer, Wayne McGregor.

"He (McGregor) has his own ballet company and I'm sure I was quite a challenge for him - for someone who normally takes on the greatest ballerinas of the world to take on someone who can't touch his toes," he said.

In the film, Skarsgard plays a nuanced Tarzan who at one point lives as Lord Greystoke in London before he resorts to a more primal state on his return to the Congo.

This meant he needed some very specific training. Run-of-the-mill gym work and weight-lifting just wasn't going to cut it.

"Wayne and I had so much fun discovering the physicality of Tarzan, it was a lot of yoga and pilates," he said.

"Once he's (Tarzan) back in his natural habitat, you have to feel that he's home and that he can move through the jungle with the apes in a very dynamic and athletic way."

The Legend Of Tarzan opens in New Zealand cinemas on June 30.