He’s dated Salma Hayek (in real life), romanced Jennifer Lopez (in An Unfinished Life) and married Reese Witherspoon (Sweet Home Alabama), but these days, Josh Lucas is – attention, ladies – available. “I’m sickeningly and boringly single at this point,” the actor, 34, told PEOPLE. “I’m tired of it.” But his looks (and acting chops) haven’t gone unnoticed by Hollywood: He stars in the college basketball flick Glory Road and the deep-sea adventure Poseidon. Lucas talked with PEOPLE about his love life and his secret to getting in character (beer!).
First, what happened to your left arm? Why are you wearing a cast?
(For Poseidon) I was crawling on the side of a wall and I got hit by a water cannon. It just knocked me 20, 30 feet backward through the air onto my hand. I tore these ligaments. I ve got two pins right there (pointing to his hand.) I just had surgery about three days ago. So I m pain-killered out of my mind as we have this interview.
Oh my gosh, that s awful.
Yeah, it s rough.
Tell me about the character you play in Glory Road, coach Don Haskins.
The odds were against him. There s no way anyone would ever think that this little tiny mining school with no budget for recruiting could take the game and go all the way to the national championship. When (fans) tuned into this game in 1966, for the very first time the audience watched an all black team play and all white team.
I understand you bulked up with beer for your role as coach Haskins.
It was really just trying to get as much carbohydrates into my body as possible in order to build up as quickly as I possibly could. Haskins came up to me and he patted me on the belly when I first started this movie. He said, “If you re going to play me, son, you better start drinking beer.” He s a big man. His players referred to him as “the fat man.”
Was it difficult putting on the weight?
Well, we shot the movie in New Orleans. Drinking beer and eating New Orleans food every day is a pretty great thing to do. There s no real challenge there. It s not like going to the gym every day.
So do you have a favorite beer?
Well, Haskins, he s a Budweiser man. So I tried to stay in that vein as well. Budweiser and tequila were the two things I keyed into. My method drinking is what I was doing.
Any unplanned side effects from the drinking?
I ve still got love handles. That s my unplanned side effect.
Did making Glory Road, inspire any new love for basketball for you?
Really what it comes down to is what a great coach can inspire. It s the same thing as a great director can do with a film. They can take a good actor and make them great.
Have to ask: Do you still talk to Salma Hayek?
I do. She and I have maintained a great friendship, which I m very, very lucky to have. She s an extraordinary person.