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If you watched TV in the mid-00s then chances are you've seen Jesse Metcalfe with his top off.
Playing John Rowland, the hunky gardener who the women in Desperate Housewives couldn't get enough of, his image was everywhere. But now, in an interview with i-D, Metcalfe has explained the pressure he felt at having to show his body so often and being expected to stay in shape constantly.
"Having your shirt off in every episode of Housewives brought a lot of pressure. Everyone expects you to stay in that shape 24/7, 365. That’s not realistic. That’s why paparazzi catch actors between projects looking ‘out of shape’ – they’re taking time off and that includes the gym. You can run your body into the ground working out, not to mention the other things male actors do to stay fit."
Metcalfe admits that his celebrity status happened almost overnight, and while there were definite advantages – "photoshoots, interviews, a lot of free things" – there were also massive downsides, and, he said, it was a lot to deal with for a young actor in Hollywood.
"I definitely wasn’t ready for so much exposure so quickly. I was 26, and I think [my] meteoric rise coalesced with the rise of the internet. It was like a tidal wave. Everything was getting thrown at me, and I was enjoying myself, but it was never something I had control over or made conscious decisions about. It was more that it was happening to me."
Metcalfe told i-D that he dealt with his fame by doing "a lot of drugs and alcohol". "It was pretty grotesque," he said.
Metcalfe isn't the first actor to criticise the unrealistic demands placed on male actors. Speaking back in 2018, actor Rob McElhenney sarcastically took a swipe at the lengths modern Hollywood stars have to go to in order to achieve the perfect body.
He said: "Look, it’s not that hard. All you need to do is lift weights six days a week, stop drinking alcohol, don’t eat anything after 7pm, don’t eat any carbs or sugar at all, in fact just don’t eat anything you like, get the personal trainer from Magic Mike, sleep nine hours a night, run three miles a day, and have a studio pay for the whole thing over a six to seven month span. I don’t know why everyone’s not doing this. It’s a super realistic lifestyle and an appropriate body image to compare oneself to."
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