How Actor William Jackson Harper Stays in Shape For His Shirtless Scenes


As an actor, William Jackson Harper is a grasp of his craft. The 41-year-old from Dallas, TX, earned his stripes in quite a lot of smaller roles together with “30 Rock” and Regulation & Order earlier than taking pictures to worldwide fame as Chidi in “The Good Place,” a gig that earned him a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for his work.

With Harper now taking the lead in Season 2 of HBO Max’s “Love Life” (premiering Oct. 28), M&F talked with the person himself to search out out whether or not he’s a romantic guy at heart and the way he prepares for these nerve-wracking scenes that require him to get a little more intimate.

In “Love Life” season 2, the main target shifts from Anna Kendrick’s character Derby Carter, over to William Jackson Harper’s portrayal of Marcus Watkins, a damaged man that finds himself all of a sudden thrust back into the dating scene. So, is the actor a romantic soul off-screen? “No, by no means,” laughs Harper. “And my girlfriend will vouch for that. I don’t assume by way of romance, a lot as I simply attempt to make my accomplice pleased after I can. I did pull off this one actually nice shock party for her. I’m pleased with that and she or he was very touched by it.”

Harper is a revered thespian with loads of stage expertise, and he’s additionally conscious that performing is as a lot bodily as it’s emotional. By no means was his extra evident than when a shirtless scene in “The Good Place” set pulses racing and went viral on the web. Now, with scripts requiring him to reveal extra flesh in “Love Life,” Harper lets us in on the method.


Failing to organize is making ready to fail

“I’ve to try to stay in shape throughout the year,” he shares. “And sure, I’m panicked as quickly as I learn these scripts. I’m much more strict with myself when taking pictures, in a manner that might be described as punitive [laughs]. However I do attempt to keep at a sure baseline all year long in order that it’s no so intense.”

Harper says that his dietary habits are fundamental, and that his go-to strategies for leaning up are the tried and examined ideas of increasing protein intake whereas decreasing carbs. “I taper off how a lot I eat, through the course of the day, in order that by the top of the day I’m not shoveling a bunch of meals in my mouth,” he says. “I typically attempt to keep away from easy carbs, however as a result of I do work out, you want [some carbs in your system] to make use of, with the intention to get by the exercise, construct a bit of muscle, and perhaps simply have the vitality to truly get your physique to do issues. So, I’m going decrease carb, however I simply don’t go within the ‘basement’ the place I’m strict about consuming zero bread or zero positive aspects.”

William Jackson Harper will get critical

A number of weeks out from a scene that requires Harper to take his shirt off, the actor begins to tighten the management on what he’s consuming. “I actually do ramp up the protein consumption,” he says. “I attempt to maintain [meals] to lean proteins and vegetables, for the time that I’m taking pictures, and often for a stable month to a month-and-a-half, upwards to 2 months earlier than, as a result of I additionally know that after I’m taking pictures, the weight loss program stuff will get rather a lot more durable to keep up. And likewise, the exercises get a bit of more durable to keep up.”

Harper says that it’s all about stability. He likes to work out and throws cardio into the combination with the intention to assist him keep on monitor together with his health targets. He additionally tracks his macros through the use of Snap Kitchen to be sure that he’s getting the correct quantity of vitamins. The readymade menus are additionally handy for Harper when taking pictures lengthy hours, taking the effort out of designing and making ready wholesome meals. As for the fitness center, the actor makes 5 to 6 visits per week. “I often do cardio two to 3 occasions per week, the place I’ll run someplace between 3 and 5 miles,” he says. “I weight prepare three to 4 occasions per week.” Harper splits his exercise days, specializing in completely different physique elements. He additionally likes to make use of his personal body weight as a part of his total health routine, so situps and pushups are staples.

Harper makes use of bodily kind as artwork

Simply as Harper studied the craft of conveying emotion to be an efficient actor, he’s additionally conscious that the bodily kind that he takes up on-screen is crucial to his portrayal of every function that he takes on. When he’s pushing himself to discover a explicit aesthetic, Harper calls on his long-time private coach, Anwar Carrol. Harper isn’t seeking to be the subsequent Unbelievable Hulk, however many followers have been calling for him to play Superman. “I simply comply with [Anwar’s] recommendation,” says Harper. “He actually pushes me. He’s nice and I like working with him.”

The actor is appreciative that his job requires him to remain in form, as a result of he enjoys the benefits of feeling healthy and energized. As for his extra intimate scenes, Harper is conscious that placing on an genuine efficiency means stepping out of his consolation zone. “Yeah, it’s embarrassing and difficult,” he laughs. “I hate taking my shirt off! I hate it, ha! However, you already know, there’s a sure pleasure that you simply get out of going through the stuff that you’re afraid of.”

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