Taylor Lautner became an international movie star his lead role in the mega-popular Twilight saga, but it wasn’t all a supernaturally good time.
In a recent episode of his podcast The Squeeze, the 30-year-old actor opened up about the body image struggles he grappled with as a result of the five-movie franchise. Lautner famously depicted Jacob Black, the hunky, frequently shirtless werewolf vying for love from Twilight‘s protagonist, Bella Swan (played by Kristen Stewart), from 2008–2012. For the role, he was “forced to be in a gym multiple times a day, six days a week” and eat a staggering 3,200-calorie diet.
“It was my entire life,” Lautner shared. “In the first movie, I was 140 pounds, and in New Moon, I was 175. So yeah, that wasn’t my natural body. I had to work very hard for it and very, very hard just to maintain it.”
“When I was 16 through 20 years old, starring in this franchise where my character is known for taking his shirt off every other second, no, I did not know that it was affecting me or going to affect me in the future with body image,” he added. “But now looking back at it, of course it did, and of course it is going to.”
After filming the final Twilight film, Lautner wanted nothing more than to “[rebel] against the gym.” Naturally, his body began to change: “What happens when you don’t want to see a gym? You start losing the eight pack. I started having more normal of a body.”
Lautner wasn’t bothered by the loss of his chiseled abs. He recalled filming the 2016 movie Run the Tide and playing a character who wasn’t “supposed to be a bodybuilder or ripped guy in any way.”
At the time, the actor thought he looked fine. However, Twilight fans on the internet had a different outlook.
“But then seeing [my body] online where they put the side-by-sides of me shirtless in the ocean in a scene from that movie compared to me in Eclipse or whatever and being like, ‘Wow, he’s let it all go.’ I was like, ‘Oh, man. Did I really let it all go?'” he recalled. “I didn’t think I looked that bad.”
The deluge of criticism took a massive toll on Lautner’s mental health. Ultimately, it forced him to prioritize his holistic wellbeing above his physical appearance. He thanked his loved ones who helped him through that journey — including his wife and The Squeeze co-host, Taylor Dome Lautner.
“Your body can look unbelievable, you can be ripped, shredded, whatever you can lose weight, you can put on muscle, and if you’re not healthy mentally, then that’s all for nothing because that can work against you,” he told listeners.
Lautner isn’t the only male celeb to open up about how getting in shape for a role was harmful to his wellbeing. Last month, Abbott Elementary star Tyler James Williams spoke to Men’s Health about how an ultra-strict fitness routine caused his body to shut down when he was in his early 20s…and led to his eventual diagnosis with Crohn’s disease.
Let these cautionary tales serve as a reminder that Hollywood’s unrealistic body standards are dangerous for everyone, not just women.
“Don’t find happiness in what you want your body to look like,” Lautner concluded. “Don’t think just because you lose the 20 pounds or put on the muscle, you’re going to wake up and look in the mirror and all of a sudden be happy. That’s not where you should be finding value.”
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