‘X-Men’ packs a punch for Lawrence and McAvoy

In this May 9, 2016 file photo, Jennifer Lawrence and James McAvoy pose at the screening of the film "X-Men Apocalypse" in London. “X-Men: Apocalypse” opens in U.S. theaters on May 27. (AP)

LONDON (AP) — It always hits the cast hard when they realize they’re back on the set of “X-Men.” Quite literally, they’re going to get punched.

Jennifer Lawrence and James McAvoy return to their superhero roles for a third time in “Apocalypse” — opening Friday — to face the threat of an ancient mutant, intent on destroying the world.

In a recent interview, they agreed that it’s the moment when they start getting beaten up that they know they’re back in character as Raven / Mystique and Professor Charles Xavier.

This is the latest big screen adventure for the two, after “X-Men: First Class” (2011) and “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (2014).

Lawrence added that she also feels like she’s back in their comic book universe again once she’s standing on the Cerebro set in Montreal.

This time around, she was trying hard not to laugh at McAvoy saying his key line: “I’ve never felt power like this before.”

“I could not make it through,” Lawrence said. “None of us could make it through a take. But they didn’t come out that way. I thought I would laugh at that line in the theater and I did not.”

The new movie, again directed by Bryan Singer, includes new faces playing old, well-known “X-Men” characters, with Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, Tye Sheridan and Alexandra Shipp taking on the roles of Jean Grey, Psylocke, Cyclops and Storm, respectively.

When asked if there were any initiation rites for the freshmen cast members, Lawrence and McAvoy said the newbies got a pummeling, too.

“I mean we all hit everyone, and we hit each other, so it’s hard to tell what’s hazing and what’s just general abuse,” said Lawrence.

Still, they handled the physical side of things much better than the hair and makeup part, since “X-Men: Apocalypse” is set during the 1980s.

“Not a fan of the hair,” admitted Lawrence. “I feel like I looked like ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter,’ just because of ’80s hair, not because of who was doing my hair. The clothes I was OK with.”

McAvoy didn’t have to deal with ’80s hair for long because Professor X famously goes bald.

“Nearly every director I’ve worked with since making ‘X-Men’ has gone like, ‘I really like you with a shaved head.’ So it’s been quite hard to get my hair to grow back because every movie I’ve done I’ve got to buzz it again,” said McAvoy.

But both agree that these characters could be their jobs for life, working with the well-established “X-Men” team and a continually evolving story line.

“It’s my pension plan,” joked McAvoy.